Is God Listening?

Job 27-28 and Psalm 75-77

For the first time in this blog’s 5 year history a very FORTUNATE miscommunication on my part has led us to not just ONE devotion writer today but TWO NEW devotion writers. So, no apologies from me…enjoy them both! It is my pleasure to bring to you two exceptional young men and their thoughts from God’s Word today.

From Elijah New – a high school student I recently had the privilege of meeting when he offered to help with a big job while everyone else was off enjoying a late night party at FUEL youth camp. And, with his internet out last night, he could have used it as an easy excuse to not send in a devotion, but instead he used his mom’s phone and got the job done. THANKS, Elijah!

“Then Job continued his discourse and said, ‘As God lives, who has taken away my right, And the Almighty who has embittered my soul. For as long as life is in me, And the breath of God is in my nostrils, My lips certainly will not speak unjustly, Nor will my tongue mutter deceit. Far be it from me that I should declare you right, Till I die I will not put away my integrity from me. I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go. My heart does not reproach any of my days.” Job 27:1-6 NASB

When I read this it didn’t take long for me to see how strong Job’s faith was. And I think we need to look at this as an example of what our faith should be. In Matthew 17:20 it talks about if you have faith the size of a mustard seed then you can move mountains. Imagine being able to put all of your trust into something or someone. Because that‘s what we see here with Job. He didn’t know why he was being tested but he still held firm in his faith. Just like we should through the good and the bad.

-Elijah New

AND – from Mason Kiel, an impressive college student whom I have had the pleasure of watching grow spiritually over the years. Thank you Mason for taking on the job with short notice on one of your last and few truly summer days.

Today’s passage reflects on the chapters of Psalm 75-77 and Job chapters 27-28. Each of these Psalms are written as musical poetry, for the purpose of exalting or praising God. Diving straight into the word of God we can see that Psalm 75 is about the power of God, his strength and majesty unquestionable.

“We praise you, for your Name is near; People tell of your wonderful deeds. You say, ‘I choose the appointed time; it is I who judge with equity. When the earth and all it’s people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm. To the arrogant I say, ‘Boast no more,’ and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horns. Do not lift your horns against heaven; do not speak so defiantly.’’” Psalm 75:1-5

Psalm 76 is about how God brings down those who attack him and lifts those who praise him. We can read of the rightful power God has to judge us with when in Psalm 76:4 it begins:

“You are radiant with light, more majestic than mountains rich with game. The valiant lie plundered; they sleep their last sleep; not one of the warriors can lift his hands. At your rebuke, God of Jacob, both horse and chariot lie still. It is you alone who are to be feared. Who can stand before you when you are angry? From heaven you pronounced judgment, and the land feared and was quiet— when you, God, rose up to judge, to save all the afflicted of the land. Surely your wrath against mankind brings you praise, and the survivors of your wrath are restrained. Make vows to the Lord your God and fulfill them; let all the neighboring lands bring gifts to the One to be feared. He breaks the spirit of rulers; he is feared by the kings of the earth.” Psalm 76:4-12

We can see that God delivers to those what they deserve and loves those who fearfully worship him.

The final passage is that of Psalm 77. In this chapter, the song is calling to God in distress and questioning His presence. I encourage you to read the whole Psalm for yourself, but these few verses below relate so well to the story of Job.

“Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” Psalm 77:7-9

The story of Job is perhaps perfectly mirrored by these several Psalms. The first point being that God is all powerful. The second is that regardless of what we believe, God is in complete and total control. Lastly, when we call to God, and it feels like He isn’t there or isn’t listening, remember that He is. Even when Job was diseased, alone, and poor beyond belief, he had faith in God and God ultimately gifted him greater than ever before. The next time it feels like God isn’t listening, remember to trust in Him regardless, give Him praise and sing Him Psalms, and He will bless you!

-Mason Kiel

Thank you God for sending both Elijah and Mason to SeekGrowLove today! It is exciting to see such quality young people digging into Your Word, sharing Your truth and wisdom and serving the Body of Christ in new and often challenging ways. Help us be a light reflecting You today while showing complete faith in You. May we seek You always.

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Job 27-28 and Psalm 75-77

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

How to Banish Your Fear

Psalm 56

Psalm 56 3 NIV

Like Psalm 34, which we highlighted yesterday, Psalm 56 for today was also written when the Philistines had seized David in Gath.  And just like yesterday’s psalm, this one starts with David begging God for help.

Then, in verses 3 and 4, David says this, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?”

I see a pattern here that David liked to repeat:

  1. He acknowledged his fear, “When I am afraid.”  Fear is a natural reaction when in danger – either real or perceived.

  2. David then made a deliberate decision to trust God.  This is not a normal reaction, it is an intentional decision, flying in the face of the natural fear.

  3. David praised God for delivering him – before he had been delivered.  (In this case, David praised God’s word, but often, he just praised God.)  When David did this, he was stepping out on faith, believing God would answer his prayers.

  4. Finally, in the assurance God would help him, David banished his fear, “I will not be afraid.”.  Notice he chose to not fear what mortal man could do to him.

This reminds me of Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:28, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul.  Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

This is a pattern I have also tried to follow in my own life.  Many times, I have cried out to God, confessing my fear. I have then made a deliberate decision to trust that whatever God has for me is best, whether I know it (or like it) or not.  Then praise God for his promise that all things work together for my good – because I love God. Finally, with God’s help, I let Him lift my burden off my shoulders, whether it is fear, or whatever else it is.

With the fears swirling around now, whether Covid-19, or unemployment, or difficulty finding what you want at the grocery store, or …  You have a choice. You can succumb to fear, or you can follow David’s example.

I challenge you to try this pattern with whatever makes you fearful today.  Then you can say, like David wrote in yesterday’s reading from Psalm 34:8, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” And from today’s reading in 56:11, “In God I trust; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?”


–Steve Mattison
Today’s Bible reading, Psalm 56,120, and 140-142 can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+56%2C+120%2C+140-142&version=NIV
Tomorrow we return to 1st Samuel (chapters 25-27) to read of the next events in David’s life as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

In Difficult Times

Psalm 34

Psalm 34 4 NIV

In yesterday’s lesson, I neglected to point out a story from 1 Samuel 21 that is relevant to today’s reading.  When David ran away from Saul, he escaped to Gath (enemy territory) so Saul wouldn’t keep chasing him. The king’s servants pointed out that David was the man about which they sang, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.”

David took these words to heart and was very much afraid, so he pretended he was insane –  scratching on the doors, and letting his saliva run down his beard. When the king saw this, he thought David was crazy, and sent him away.

David wrote Psalm 34 after this experience.  Here are some verses that stand out to me.

V 3, “Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.”

V 4, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”

V 6, “This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.”

V 7, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.”

V 8, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”

V 12-14, “Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.  Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”

V 15, “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry;”

V 19, “A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all’

We need to be quick to praise God for whatever he does for us, just like David did.  It’s easy to cry out to God when times are tough, but sometimes it’s harder to remember to praise Him and let others know what He has done for us.  This is important too.

What I really like about this chapter are the multiple times that David points out that we will experience difficult times, but God sees us through those times.  I like the image conveyed by verse 7. When I’m going through a hard time, it’s comforting to imagine God sending an angel to protect me. This doesn’t mean I won’t have difficulties, but God sees me through.  God is attentive to the righteous.

In verse 8, I picture David saying, “I’ve been through some hard times, but I’ve remained faithful to God, and God has pulled me through.  I want to encourage you to develop a close relationship with the Lord. Once you experience that relationship and experience His helping you through those difficulties, then you too can understand how good God is.”

I have to echo David’s words, because I’ve been there.  So I encourage you too, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”

–Steve Mattison
Today’s Bible reading (Psalms 7,27,31, 34, 52) can be read, or listened to, at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+7%2C27%2C31%2C+34%2C+52&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be more Psalms written by David (56,120, 140-142) as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Pouring Out My Soul

1 Samuel 1-3

1 Samuel 1 15c NIV

Raise your hand if you are in the habit of writing out your prayers.

I am not consistent with the practice, but whenever I do, I’m glad that I did. I’ve gone back and read some of my past prayers and I wonder who in the world wrote them. It’s like I’m a different person when I write out my prayers. As I write out my thoughts while praying, I spend much more time acknowledging God and less time on my own wants. When I write out my prayers my words are more intentional than when I speak. When I write out my prayers my ideas seem to be more in alignment with who God wants me to be compared to when I ramble on in my own mind without recording my thoughts.
As I read 1 Samuel 2, I take in the words of a woman who fully expresses who she has experienced God to be. He is her Rock, her God. God is one who knows her heart and strengthens her when she stumbles. God blesses her and sends thunder against her enemies.
I am thankful that this particular prayer was recorded for us to read. It’s an encouragement for us to persist in prayer. It reminds us of who God is and of his power and might, his peace and his love, his provision and his holiness.
If you are already in the practice of writing out your prayers, spend some extra time this week, going back and reading previous prayers. What have you learned since? How have you changed?
If you do not already write out your prayers, I encourage you to spend some time this week, recording your prayers. How do your written prayers compare to your verbal prayers? What might you gain or learn from the process?
Keeping a prayer journal is a discipline that has many benefits. Learn from Hannah and spend time praising God.
Bethany Ligon
Today’s Bible reading, 1 Samuel 1-3, can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+1-3&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be 1 Samuel 4-8 as we continue on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Don’t Forget – Give Thanks

FREE THEME WEEK – Psalms!

Psalm 150 6

This week we’ve been looking at seven different types of psalms, musical prayers that have been used for thousands of years first by the people of Israel and then by the Church as part of our worship and devotional life.  The first two types of psalms we looked at were wisdom and royal psalms.  The second two types of psalms were lament and imprecatory, these were a bit more challenging- not all of the psalms are about happy themes.

Today we are going to look at much happier psalms, the psalms of thanksgiving.  These are, perhaps, some of the better known psalms as they speak joyfully in praise of God.

The very last psalm, ends the psalms in a resounding crescendo of praise and thanksgiving”:

Psalm 150

Praise the Lord.

Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

 

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.  These psalms speak for themselves about the joy of worshipping our great and powerful God.  God is worthy of our praise and thanksgiving.

Romans 1:21 gives the consequences of one who fails to offer to God the thanksgiving God deserves: “ For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”  How tragic to fail to give to God the glory and thanks he so richly deserves.  A number of Biblical theologians see in this passage Paul’s reference to the rebellion of Adam and Eve in the garden, who failed to show thanks to God for the good gifts of creation and chose instead to listen to the voice of the serpent calling them to aspire to be like god.  Failure to give thanks to God is the original sin of humanity.  It may also be referencing Israel’s original story of the Exodus.  After God frees Israel from slavery in Egypt, they enter the wilderness, and while God is giving his instructions to Moses on Mt. Sinai, his people are down below making a golden calf to worship.  They trade the worship of God for idols made by human hands.  When we choose to worship anything in place of the one true God we are guilty of idolatry.

Throughout the psalms we are called to reject the original sin of not giving thanks to God and to worship God alone.  Worship is one reason that the Church gathers regularly.  We are not to forsake gathering as the Church for the purpose of worshiping God (Hebrews 10:24-25).  The psalms provide a rich and extensive songbook for us to use in our worship, both as a Church when we gather and in our times of private worship.  I read the psalms everyday as it helps me to join that several thousand year old congregation that joins together to worship and give thanks to God.

-Jeff Fletcher

 

Worship God with your Heart and Voice

Acts 16 25

Free theme week: Worship
Chapter reading for the day: Acts 16

Singing is usually the first thing that comes to mind when people think of worship.
However, singing is not just some common and mundane practice that believers do
when they gather, say on a Sunday. Actually the Bible teaches that singing praises to
God and Jesus is incredibly powerful and moving and has consequences in the
supernatural realm.
The difference between worship music that is alive and worship music that is dead is
based on two things. 1. The hearts of the music leader and/or band are not in the right
place and they will not be authentic and genuine in their worship. And 2. because their
hearts are far from God, God will not dwell and inhabit their praises meaning the spirit of God will not move in them or through them. Inversely, if the music leader/band’s heart is ready to praise God and solely be devoted to his glory then God will inhabit their
praises, the spirit will be moving, and exciting things will happen. When speaking about
praising God through our voice it is imperative that our heart be in the right place. God
doesn’t want a voice to sing to him. He desires a heart overflowing with love and
worship that manifest in singing praises. There’s a difference.
With that being said we’ll look at Acts 16.22-34. I won’t type out the passage but I’ll
summarize it. In Acts 16 Paul and Silas are in the city of Thyatira. While preaching a
slave girl was following them praising their work. However, she was demon-possessed
and was being a hindrance to their work. Paul cast the demon out of her and her
owner became furious. Paul and Silas were arrested, beaten, and thrown into prison.
Then read what happens next as they are in jail:
“But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God,
and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake,
so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors
were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.” – Acts 16.25-26
Paul and Silas were singing songs of praise and were praying prayers of praise. Despite
their circumstances, their hearts were solely set on God and praising him. The result
was God caused an earthquake, the inmates were set free, and the jailer and his family
were saved.
Setting aside the circumstances and details of the story, we see two men praise God
wholeheartedly and their worship in the natural realm moves God in the supernatural
realm to affect their current circumstances. We see from this account that singing and
praying can actually move the heart of God. Our worship in the natural can make waves
in the supernatural.
We see the same principle in II Chronicles 20.1-23 (please read). Worship can move
mountains in the supernatural realm. Singing can be a weapon used against the enemy
and dark spiritual forces. Our warfare in the supernatural is waged by singing and praying. Praising God and Jesus with our voice does not have to be mundane and
routine though sometimes it can be. Rather, singing has the ability to make waves in the
supernatural realm, move God, and wage war against the enemy. But this is only
possible with a sold-out heart seeking the glory of God. A heart that praises him in all
circumstances and gives him glory in all seasons of life. That is the kind of worship that
God responds to.

-Jacob Rohrer

Miracles and Praise

Acts 12 9

Acts 12

Acts 12:1-19
“but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening: he thought he was seeing a vision.”      Acts 12:9 “Pinch me! I must be dreaming.” We are not so different from Peter. When miraculous things happen, we doubt that they are real. When we finally accept the reality, we make ourselves crazy trying to explain it rationally.
I have had many moments where God has worked in a miraculous way. And I was so thankful for those moments at that time. But then those fade and you begin to question whether that was God or if it was just you hoping it was God. We all have those doubts. We have to ask – do we believe it’s God…do we want it to be God?  We all have those moments where God is speaking to us and we have to be able to recognize His voice.  The more we know God the more we are able to recognize miracles for what they are. God working in our lives.
Mighty God of Miracles, we confess that we try to explain your miracles rather than enjoy them. Help us to accept that you use all of your creation including other people to work your miracles. Open our hearts to your generous gifts and use us to deliver your miracles to others.
Next time something amazing happens to you or someone you know, don’t try to explain it away.  Accept it as a miraculous gift from God. Give Him the Glory!
Acts 12:19-25
On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. But the word of God continued to increase and spread.” Acts 12:21-24
In Matthew 22:37, the first and greatest commandment for Christians is ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’.  Likewise, the 10 Commandments warn us against idolatry.  In today’s passage, Paul talks about Herod’s meeting with the people of Tyre and Sidon.  Once Herod won their approval, they praised and idolized him as a god. Giving another the praise God deserves is turning away from Him who gave you life and a way to salvation, including the death of His Son.  What more must God do to prove how much He loves you and deserves your love in return? We can even lose sight of His authority by relying too heavily on a fellow Christian for guidance. Give all your praise and honor to Him.
-Andy Cisneros

Change of Plans

Acts 16 7

ACTS 16

I love the book of Acts as we get a glimpse into Paul’s missionary journeys!  In this exciting chapter (go ahead and read it all) Paul begins his second missionary journey with Silas.

 

Right off the bat we get to meet Timothy and Lydia – two faithful believers at their start.  One thing I love about FUEL is looking out over the crowd and seeing the youthful energy and passion – and knowing that they won’t stay youth too long.  It is fun to wonder who might one day be my pastor, or my pastor’s wife?  Who might go on a missions trip with one of my children?  Who might teach a class at FUEL to my grandkids (years and years from now)?  The Christian life is a process of growth and ups and downs and new experiences and deeper maturity.  It’s fun to see the first steps of this developing growth in our church youth – and in those touched by Paul’s ministry.

 

One of the signs of growing in your faith – which can even be difficult for those who have been Christians a long time – involves putting your own plans aside when God would have you go in a different direction.  Here, Paul and companions (which now includes young Timothy) “were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them” (vs. 7).  I wonder how the Spirit of Jesus worked this time: torrential rain flooded out the road, lost passport, contagious disease in town… Can you think of a time when you were upset by something that suddenly changed your plans?  Looking back now, is there a chance that instead of circumstance or bad luck it was actually God leading you where He had a job for you to do?

 

Even when it looked like “bad luck” landed Paul and Silas into jail….God was at work.  And, with continued faith in God and His plans, Paul and Silas were singing and praising God in their chains.  At the time, they didn’t know that later that night an earthquake would open the jail doors and unfasten their chains.  But they sang praises to God.  They didn’t know that the jailer and his family would be baptized that very night, because of the life examples and testimonies of the faithful witnesses.  But they were praying to God – and the rest of the prisoners were listening.

 

Beware of crumbling under your “bad luck”.  Instead, keep growing your faith in God.  Continue praying and singing praises to God.  You never know who is listening and how it might also change their life and the lives of their family.

 

-Marcia Railton