Holding Nothing Back

Genesis 22-24

Genesis 22 12b NIV

One of the sayings that I sort of cling to in my life is, “You get out of life what you put into it.” I find this can be helpful in those moments where Netflix or a nap can be much more appealing than doing homework, reading a book, folding laundry or any of the other responsibilities we have in this life. Even though some of those things listed like folding laundry or reading a book I can really enjoy and get a sense of accomplishment from doing those things. In a way doing things like taking naps or watching Netflix are just easier and don’t require any brain activity from me. For instance there can be a temptation to just read devotions and not actually read the Bible on your own. This is because reading a devotion, which is an already processed thought is easier than having to read and process the Bible on your own.

Now, is reading devotions great?  Absolutely.  Devotions are great because you can see what God worked on in another person’s heart and that is pretty cool to be a part of. I love writing these devotions and hope they add to your spiritual growth and help you understand God better.

You may be wondering why I wrote two paragraphs about putting an effort into life and what I really think is the principle at work here is sacrifice, and that is what Genesis 22 is really about.

In Genesis 22.1-14 is a story about sacrifice and commitment to God and I don’t think it is necessarily in the way that we think. Right now, you should go read Genesis 22.1-14. My next paragraph will wait for as long as they maintain the rights to the domain name. Haha

I’m glad you are back. What Abraham was about to do here is crazy. He was willing to offer his son, that he had waited 25 years for and had at 99 years, because God told him to. Abraham could have so easily rationalized disobedience away by saying “There is no way that I am going to harm a child.” But Abraham decided to obey God despite all reservations that he had. One of my favorite verses as a teenager and even now is Matthew 6.21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Abraham didn’t treasure his child more than he treasured God and IT SHOWED in a big way. He held nothing back from God.

You may be getting a mixed message at this point. I’m not telling you to give all your stuff away or to sacrifice your brother or sister as a burnt offering. That would not bless God. What I am telling you is that if you live your life holding nothing back from God, you will reap the reward from that. The same principle applies to how much work and effort you put into your spiritual growth.

If you want God to really change your life cut Netflix out of your life for a month and instead spend that time with your head in a Bible and see what God does in your heart and how he changes you.

If you really want to serve others and see God do something through you then commit yourself to that and go do it. Make it your center point! Go help others in whatever way you can. Look for ways to serve others and give your life away to them.

The reason that Abraham is the father of our faith is because he held nothing back. After this story Abraham received a promise from God that his offspring would be as the stars in heaven and sands on the seashore and that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through him. Abraham got out of life what he put in. Abraham was used by God through this promise because Abraham was completely devoted to God.

I know there is a better life. When our lives are completely focused on God, something changes. I want to say this to you and hope you take it to heart. I know what being sold out to God is like and it is uncomfortable and can be really hard but the reward is life altering, it’s God glorifying and it’s kingdom strengthening. Our sacrifices don’t go unnoticed by God and they will come to fruition and it isn’t always how we expect it.

Do not take this as me telling you that you can make God do things but rather God honors the sacrifices that we make in our lives for him. He in turn wants to bless us and help us. Do not do any of things that I mentioned unless you really want to do them. God doesn’t want just sacrifices. He wants our hearts behind the sacrifices that we make and, honestly, that is the key to love. When your heart and actions combine into one that is true love.

Daniel Wall

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+22-24&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s passage will be Genesis 25 & 26 on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

No Daily Patch Needed

Hebrews 7

Hebrews 7 24 25 NIV

So often when we pray for ourselves or for others, we are concerned about certain specific things that are happening in the present moment of our life or their life.  This is okay, because sometimes we feel so overwhelmed by a situation or weakness in our life, that we want immediate help.  We fall on our faces or knees and plead for help in this particular situation or with this particular weakness, but never see the whole picture.  That’s because we are human, after all.  We often can’t see past the present moment. We want to put patches on what is torn or broken. We feel the pain right now, we experience the embarrassment of a sin and hope no one else notices, or we share in part with another in their present experience.  All of that is well and good as we plead for ourselves and intercede for others.  But then a new day comes, laced with all the same trials, tribulations, and temptations of life all over again and we look for another patch.

That was the life of a priest before the time of Christ.  Before a priest could do his job of offering up sacrifices for the sins of others, he first had to take care of his own personal business—his own sins, his own cares, his own violations.  So, each day, as he lit the fire to begin his godly work, he took inventory of the sins of his people and his own sins (Hebrews 7: 27).  Day after day, moment by moment, his mind raced with all these shortcomings.  His job was difficult and exhausting.

Then Christ came and became the high priest, and He holds this position permanently and forever (Hebrews 7:24).  He was after-all, “holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens” (Hebrews 7: 26).  Not only that but “He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself” (Hebrews 7:27).   The daily grind of fire building, killing a sacrifice, inner-searching, and finally offering up prayers ended.  Jesus paid it all.

That does not mean we do not pray for others or ourselves.  Indeed Peter says that we are to be “a royal priesthood” (I Pet 2:9), meaning we are to pray for others.  But unless and until we accept without question and wholly the atonement of Jesus in our lives, the daily grind of being a priest will continue for us. We will never get out of that cycle of embarrassment, regret, remorse and the need to pray for that “daily patch” to cover our sins along with the sins of those for whom we pray.

Jesus lives to make intersession for us (Hebrews 7:25), He prays for us continually.  It is because of His intercession that we can do our work of intercession for others.  It is all possible because Jesus has saved us to the uttermost.  No daily patch needed.  Jesus saves us totally and at all times.  Once we believe this as a little child of God, and we draw near to God through Him, He is able to save us to the uttermost! (Hebrews 7: 25).  Then, with full assurance of our own atonement, we can put our full energy into praying for others which is our greatest work.

Luke Elwell

 

Giving!

2 Corinthians 8

2 Corinthians 8 4

 

“But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.”

2 Corinthians 8:7 ESV

 

 

“For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.”

2 Corinthians 8:12 ESV

 

 

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”

2 Corinthians 8:9 ESV

 

Wow. Pause and read this again. So very powerful. Let’s let this one sink in.

 

 

“And not only that, but he has been appointed by the churches to travel with us as we carry out this act of grace that is being ministered by us, for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our good will. We take this course so that no one should blame us about this generous gift that is being administered by us, for we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man.”

2 Corinthians 8:19-21 ESV

 

Throughout 2 Corinthians 8, it is evident that this chapter is explaining the collection that Titus was sent to receive for the Lord’s people. In starting out today’s reading, I decided to highlight a few key verses (as listed above) to read before we move onto a deeper discussion.

 

So often in this life, I feel as if it is ingrained into our society to accumulate more and more so that we may be perceived as the richest, having the most glamor, and being considered high in status. Many popular songs today even send out the message to seek after selfish ambitions– more money, more things, seeking after unhealthy relationships, and the list goes on and on. However, it was so refreshing to dig into this chapter today as it speaks truth onto the matter of, not only having, but also giving. Moreover, this chapter highlights the importance of recognizing what you have, and with responsibility, using a portion of it to present it as an offering unto the Lord with willingness. I love that Paul writes about the importance of being diligent and being invested in your faith, speech, knowledge, earnestness, and love, but also writes that presenting an offering is indeed an act of grace.

  • You don’t think you have anything valuable to offer? Think again! One of the best parts about presenting the Lord with an offering is that you do not have to have a lot to be able to give/carry out an act of ministry, contributing to the furtherance of the kingdom. An offering for one person may look completely different than an offering for another person and that’s okay!

Question:

Ask yourselves, “What do I have to offer today?”

  • Maybe it’s: time, a financial donation, investing in others, offering words of encouragement, acts of service, praying for others, etc.
  • There are several ways that you can contribute!

 

My biggest take away from this chapter is that we have a God who sent His only son to sacrifice everything on our behalf to pave the way to eternal life. It is my hope that we can present our lives as an offering to God and let His work truly come to life within us! We have the chance to do something very special to honor God and further His kingdom unto others. Are you willing to be a part of it? With grace, I encourage you to present an offering to God– today, this week, this month, this year, or all the above. Whatever that may look like in your life, seek after it. Let’s set our selfish ambitions aside and really focus on the things that matter. My friends, you are so loved! We serve a good good father. Have a great day and be sure to join back again tomorrow for our next daily devotion!

-Kayla Tullis

Justified by Faith

If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say_ “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness

Romans 4

When I think of the old testament versus the new testament, one of the differences I tend to think of is law versus faith.  In the old testament, the people were under the law, and judged by the law.  Then in the new testament, Jesus changed things up so that we could be saved by our faith, with his sacrifice.  No longer were people required to perform sacrifices under the law.

Is that the right way to look at it though?  I’m not sure because I still find scripture that makes comparisons which lead me to the same conclusion.  However, in Romans 4, Paul talks about Abraham being credited by faith.  Verses 2 and 3 say:

For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ “

Paul goes on to say that David also talks about blessings that are separate from works, or in other words, by faith.  Verses 7 and 8 say:

“ ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven,
And whose sins have been coveredBlessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.’ ”

So, how do I get this to fit with the laws and required sacrifices and such that were required for forgiveness in the old testament.  While the laws were all required to be followed, there had to be faith included with it for it to please God.  I can’t help but think of Matthew 5:17 as I am talking about the law of the old testament versus faith and grace in the new testament.  It reads:

“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.”

So, with our forgiveness coming through faith, it does not mean the law has been thrown away.  Instead, it means this is the perfect fulfillment of the law.

Why is this important to us?  Verse 16 says:

For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.”

We are all descendants through the faith of Abraham.  We can also have our faith credited as righteousness.  What a wonderful blessing this is.
– Andrew Hamilton

A Coming Reward

Matthew 19

matthew 19 27

Many of us have had to endure hardships because we chose to follow Jesus. Some of us have had to lose friends and family relationships, and endured verbal attacks. There are people all over the world who are being put in prison and literally risking their life to follow Jesus. So the big question for most people is, “Why?” Why do we choose to risk it all to follow this person who we believe rose from the dead? What do we get out of it?

 

This was the question that Peter asked Jesus also in Matthew 19:27. He asked, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?” It makes sense that we are concerned about what our reward will be. We ask the same question before taking a new job; “What do I get out of this?”

 

Jesus’ answer for Peter should excite us all. Jesus promised them “100 times more” than what they gave up in the coming Kingdom of God. Whatever they had given up, they would receive even more! They would also get immortal life as well! What terrific promises that we have been given by the son of God!

 

Today’s devotion is simply supposed to encourage you. No matter what you have had to endure or give up to follow Jesus, the reward in the end is so much greater. You will have immortal, perfect life (John 3:16), you will have no more sickness or sorrow (Revelation 21:3-4), and you will get to see your loved ones again who have died (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). What more could we possibly ask for? Jesus has promised us everything we can dream of if we choose to suffer now, just like he did. So be encouraged today that you have a tremendous, indescribable reward waiting for you when our king returns!

 

-Talon Paul

Loyalty in the Family of God – Ruth 1

Ruth 1 16
In the first chapter of Ruth we see a beautiful example of Ruth choosing her allegiance wisely. Some may think at the surface level, Ruth stayed with her married family for provision and protection. However, Naomi was a widow—poor, needy and vulnerable in the culture. Especially during the time of a famine in a foreign land. The most advantageous move Ruth could have made would have been to weather the famine, stay in Moab and remarry therein ensuring her safety and security. Naomi even encouraged her to do so in Ruth 1:8-9. However, Ruth remained steadfast in her loyalty to Naomi and the God she had come to know when she became one with her husband and family so many years before. Ruth makes a bold declaration after her sister in law Orpah leaves saying to Naomi,
“But Ruth replied: Do not persuade me to leave you or go back and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live; your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May Yahweh punish me, and do so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.”
‭‭Ruth‬ ‭1:16-17‬ ‭HCSB‬‬
Ruth returned to Bethlehem as a Moabitess. She faced the possibility of being rejected and ostracized in a culture where she is not of the same heritage in Israel. Ruth takes this risk to lay hold to her loyalty to her family and God no matter the outcome as she goes alongside Naomi—who has lost all provision and security. What we can take away from Ruth’s example in this first chapter is the willingness to forsake all else as we follow God. Today it is common that we may have to renounce titles, friendships, status, position etc as we pursue a dynamic relationship with God. We are called to live differently and that is not without sacrifice. What may God be calling you to renounce as we die to self and commit our lives to knowing Him more deeply and allowing Him to love us fully?

The Passover

exodus 12 13

I had touched very briefly yesterday on the plague of the firstborn and the passover ceremony which spared the lives of those who followed God.  Let’s look at that a bit more today.

 

To prepare the Israelites for the passover they were to have each family take a lamb and slaughter it at twilight and take some of the  blood and put it on the doorframes of their houses and then cook and eat the lamb that night with bitter herbs. They were to also take care of the lamp for a week before they slaughtered it.  This would not be an easy thing to do and the meal would not taste good. This was meant to show the pain and sorrow that sin causes and the blood that is required to wash away sin.

 

Slaughtering the lamb in Egypt would also have taken a lot of faith.  Animals were of great value back then, which is why so many of the Egyptians worshiped them, and most likely many of the Israelites did as well.   Animals were of even greater value as well because of all the plagues that had just wiped out the animals in Egypt. Earlier we had seen that they could not do any sacrifices in the land of Egypt because the Egyptians detested it.  Now they are doing just that. In order to do this the Israelites are sacrificing their material wealth, as well as turning their backs on the Egyptian gods. If they were not able to let go of the wealth or culture then they would have faced the judgment.  He goes on to say,

 

Exodus 12:12-14

12 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

14 “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance.

 

The plague of the firstborn was to be the final blow to the Egyptian culture/gods, and with it God is also implementing a lasting holy day in their culture by which they will remember what God has done for them for all generations, and the seder passover dinner is practiced around the world to this day.  The problem with the Israelites in Egypt was that they forgot what God had promised them. God was not going to let them forget again so easily.

 

In the Old Testament there were many festivals and holy days and cultural things that God implemented in the Israelites in order to remind them of his work and power in their past.  Even with these they often forgot and wandered away from God. After Jesus we do not live under these laws and we do not have to follow these feasts and rituals, but we still need to make a permanent change in our lives every time that God acts in our lives.  We need to constantly remind ourselves of what God has done for us. The passover ceremony was designed to make people ask why they would do such a thing so that the Israelites could tell people the story of the Exodus. Similarly our stories of how God has changed our lives are our most powerful tool for spreading the Gospel.

-Chris Mattison