Still Not Alone

1 Kings 20-21

1 Kings 20 13 NIV sgl

I neglected to mention at the end of yesterday’s “You are Not Alone” devotion that one excellent way to battle the weary, lonely depression that sometimes falls upon those who speak for God is to find a partner in ministry – work together with one you can mentor.  At the end of chapter 19 Elijah found Elisha.  Some Bible scholars suggest they worked together about 6 years, but I found another that thought it could have been closer to 23 years.  Regardless of the length of time, I believe it is safe to say the apprenticeship was a mutual blessing to both Elijah and Elisha – and likely multiplied the work that either one could have done on their own.  Elisha will have a very long and powerful ministry for the LORD, but what would it have looked like if he had not had the opportunity to serve under Elijah?  Who are you serving under?  Who are you mentoring?

It is interesting that in the next chapter neither Elijah nor Elisha are mentioned, but at least twice a prophet or son of a prophet speaks to evil King Ahab – once to tell him how to be victorious over the attacking Ben-Hadad of Aram, and once to reprimand him for being too leniant on Ben-Hadad when God delivered him into Ahab’s hand.  This is further proof that Elijah was indeed not the only one left to stand for and speak for God.  And proof, that while Elijah had very faithfully performed many deeds and sermons for God – God did not need Elijah.  The Almighty can call any man or woman – or rock – to work for Him.  I do believe when the city walls fall down on 27,000 fleeing enemy soldiers God’s rocks were at work – perhaps others would have merely called it a coincidence or an earthquake (1 Kings 20:30).

It can truly be amazing who and what God uses – even the evilest king who had ever lived.  Sure, enough, when God wanted to show HIS strength against the advancing foreign army – He tells Ahab the winning battle plans through a prophet and Ahab somewhat surprisingly listens and follows along – to a point.  And, in the last chapter of today’s reading we will even see Ahab repentant – for a time.  There is no heart God can’t soften and change or use for His glory.

But, you are just asking for trouble if you choose to hang out with the bad girls (or in Ahab’s case, his wicked wife).   They have done a lot of evil things but how many commandments do they manage to break when Ahab decides he would love to have a vegetable garden for his second palace?  Once, again, sin snowballs.  One leads to another and it grows larger and larger. With serious consequences.

Following the violent murder of innocent Naboth and the stealing of his property, Elijah is sent to condemn Ahab and Jezebel and foretell their own violent deaths – only partially put on hold by Ahab’s repentant spirit.  Isn’t it good to know that God still sees the  cruelty and injustice of the world today and His timeline is put in place to make all things right.  There will be a time when all humanity meets their judge and will be held accountable for all their deeds and the condition of their hearts.  Until that day may we faithfully carry His word – knowing that we are not alone!

Marcia Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Kings+20-21&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s Bible reading will be 1 Kings 22 & 2 Chronicles 18 as we continue the seekgrowlove.com 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Living Like a Levite

Numbers 35 & 36

Rebecca Mon pic

Imagine that today is your regular day of worship at your local church. You grab your Bible and head out to the church. You walk into the Social Hall and there is the guy who usually arrives early setting up folding chairs. You place your Bible on the table and begin unfolding the chairs while talking with him. Another person enters and starts making the coffee and turns on the heat. The room already feels warm which is nice on this chilly day. The Pastor walks in from his office and asks how your day has been so far. Soon people start arriving. A few Youth Workers enter carrying some bags filled with crafts for the kids to make. They are headed toward the Youth Room. The room begins to fill up as more people enter. A couple of praise team members smile as they walk through carrying guitars and making their way to the sanctuary. People sip coffee and others just sit, talk and laugh. Everyone settles in as the Pastor hands out a list of prayer needs and praises. A couple of people share updates on the Missions collection and the food drive. After prayer, the teacher begins to share a lesson about the importance of the Levites. You discover that the Levites served the LORD in many ways including taking care of the Tabernacle and the Temple. The Levites from the family line of Aaron served as the priests for the Israelites. Some were in charge of the treasures of the house of God and dedicated gifts. Some served as guards and others were musicians and singers. They were also the only Israelite tribe that received cities, but were not allowed to be landowners “because the Lord the God of Israel Himself was their inheritance”.

 

Ok, so why imagine this scenario? Because our reading is about the Levites and as servants of God, we have a lot in common with them. This special tribe was chosen to serve the Lord. These servants used their God-given talents to serve the LORD in their community. How amazing that we have this same opportunity today. We are gifted in different ways and possess different talents, but all of these can be used in our service to God. Our willingness to serve is evidence of our love for God and others.

God honored this tribe in Numbers 35. The Lord told Moses to command the Israelites to give the Levites towns to live in, pasturelands for their cattle and all their other animals. The Levites received forty-eight towns with six of the towns as cities of refuge, to which a person who killed someone could flee. God displays His provision and grace not only to the tribe of Levi, but for all those in the Israelite community. Hebrews and foreigners could flee to the city of refuge for protection and justice. The LORD also provides protection for the inheritance of the individual tribes in Chapter 36. In the example of Zelophehad’s daughters we see that God valued the individual inheritance of each tribe. When we see how God’s commands and regulations were offering provision and grace to the community and the individual, it makes us realize how awesome He is. It makes us want to give of ourselves. It makes us want to serve, to live like the Levites.

Rebecca Dauksas

 

Today’s Bible passage, the last two chapters of Numbers, can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+35-36&version=NIV

 

Tomorrow’s reading will be the first two chapters of Deuteronomy as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Our God

Numbers 8-10 cain

Have you ever thought about your life as a sacrifice to God? When I see how the Levites were cleansed and given before God as a wave offering in verse 13, it makes me want to be the same way before God. Imagine being born into the tribe of Levi and knowing what your purpose is. Your purpose was to grow up, study the job of your calling, study the scriptures, live a righteous life, and eventually serve God for 25 years. But really, how different are any of our lives from that? Can we not have the same basic path? Can we not come to faith, prepare ourselves through study, serve God in our lives, and present ourselves as offerings before God? People give their lives to all sorts of things. Many people choose to make their lives about the pursuit of a career, the growing of a family, the building of a legacy, etc. As the book of Ecclesiastes teaches, life’s meaning comes from following God and keeping His commandments. There is nothing else that we can pursue which gives us meaning and when I read how the Levites were given into the service of God I am reminded of this. I’m not saying everyone must be a pastor or anything like that because serving the LORD comes in many fashions, but we all need to put our life before God as a wave offering. Nothing sounds more appealing to me than being purified before the LORD and serving Him as we see in 8:21. Through Christ, we can all be purified and serve God with the entirety of our lives.

As we move into chapter 9, there is a question that comes up about observing Passover and being unclean. We find the answer in verse 9:10-14.  To me, there is a personal aspect that comes out of the beginning of this chapter. I see real people seeking to live out God’s word. These people wanted so badly to correctly follow God that they asked questions about seeking the desire of God. I think there is a lesson to be learned from the attitude of these followers: be open and real with God in all things. Open up and ask questions, seek His desire, and listen to His response. Today, I think we should learn to posture ourselves more like this before God. He is real and willing to interact with His people and give us wisdom. Sometimes we think that the time for God to interact with His people has passed, even if we don’t believe that, sometimes we act like that is the truth.

Verses 15-16 are an awesome manifestation of God among His people. His presence was continuous around the Tabernacle. Try to imagine the scene in your head. Imagine you are camping with the Israelites. In the middle of the night you walk out of your tent and in the distance, there is the warm glow, looking like fire, surrounding the Tabernacle in the distance. Have you ever seen a big fire from a distance? The warm glow that casts against the clouds in the sky. Imagine that scene every night, knowing that God is here, living among you, watching over you, and showing you His power. Don’t be so fast to read over verses, use your imagination and try to put yourself in the landscape. Imagine the smells, sights, and sounds that would have been observed by the people in the book. This practice brings the Bible to life for us, especially in the book of Numbers, where there are a lot of mind blowing events that take place. Numbers is a hot bed for God’s power manifested like no other time in history. Take your time reading these words and putting yourself in the shoes of the people. It would have been an awesome time to be alive and to witness God working in miraculous ways.

Another point we see in chapter 9 is just how literally God leads His people through the wilderness. When He moved, they moved. God still wants to lead His people today. It might not be a cloud of smoke or fire, literally leading us to the place we need to go, but through prayer and faith He can lead us to great places He has prepared for us. We should be people like those in 9:23. “At the command of the LORD they camped, and at the command of the LORD they set out; they kept the LORD’s charge, according to the command of the LORD through Moses.” When God moves, we should move. When God stays, we should stay. He is leading us to things prepared for us that we can’t see or imagine, but if we follow faithfully, we will be glad we did.

Here’s an intriguing thought. Let’s say you had no modern-day technology – how would you communicate and organize roughly 2.5 million people? Seems like an overwhelming task to me. The system that God put into place at the beginning of chapter 10 is genius. I’m not surprised God came up with such a good system, but none the less, I’m impressed by the simplicity and effectiveness. Now that all the pieces are in place, the tabernacle, the camp organization, the communication system, and the leading system, it is the time to set out for the promise land. The first move was from Sinai to Paran and took three days (10:11-13, 33). We see the organization it took to move millions of people across the desert in verses 14-28. Then come some of the coolest words in the book of Numbers “35 Then it came about when the ark set out that Moses said, ‘Rise up, O Lord! And let Your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate You flee before You.’ 36 When it came to rest, he said, ‘Return, O Lord, To the myriad thousands of Israel.’” The protection of the LORD went before them and watched over them in their journey, clearing the path of any obstacles that would stop them from reaching the promise land. God is for His people. I can’t explain how these verses make me feel, but I know that it’s awesome. I love seeing how God extends His arm to deal in the lives of His people. Even though seeing a cloud move might be more obvious, God still extends His arm to deal in the lives of His people today. Take some time to think about the prayers you have prayed. How have they been answered? This is God working in your life. I have seen people changed and situations work out in unusual ways. At some point, you have to stop saying things are coincidence and say that God is working in His people. The same powerful God we see in Numbers is the same God who deals with us today. Don’t forget, the God who liberated millions of people from Egypt is the same God who seeks your heart.

Josiah Cain

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+8-10&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Numbers 11-13 as we continue on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

The Blessing of Your Priesthood

Leviticus 8-10

Leviticus 8 23 NIV

The next couple chapters we see the ordination of Aaron and his sons. They are anointed to become the first priests of Israel. They are cleansed, had anointing oil placed on them and then also the blood of a ram sacrifice.

Once we get past how awkward this seems, I was interested in 8:23-24.

23 Moses slaughtered the ram and took some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aaron’s right ear, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. 24 Moses also brought Aaron’s sons forward and put some of the blood on the lobes of their right ears, on the thumbs of their right hands and on the big toes of their right feet.

He took some of the blood and placed it in 3 specific areas on both Aaron and his sons; the ear, thumb and big toe. Each seems to have a pretty obvious connection.

The ear: Listen – They needed to listen to God’s commands so that they would be careful not to disobey Him.

Thumb/hand – Actions – We use our hands to carry out most of our actions. I think God was telling Aaron and his sons that they were not merely to listen, but to act on God’s commands. (Kind of like James 1:22 – be doers of the word)

The Big toe/foot – Our walk and where we go – I have read that the big toe carries the most weight and gives the foot balance when walking. Without big toes we could not run or even walk straight.

Possibly God is reminding them to walk straight and stay committed to the path God has set before them.

1 Peter 2:5 – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house[a] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

We are all called into a similar service.

So may your ears be blessed to hear the command of God for your life. Bless your hands to act upon that calling and command. Bless your feet so that wherever you are and wherever you may go you stay committed to the path the Lord has for you.

You are blessed so that you can be a blessing!

John Wincapaw

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus+8-10&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Leviticus 11-13 on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Serving with Your Gifts

Luke 19

Luke 19_3a
Hey my name is Jesse Allen I am the Youth Pastor at Blood River Church of God in Springfield Louisiana. I am so impressed with our next 7 devotions for the FUEL Bible reading! These next devotions come from Students of the Blood River Church of God Youth Group. The devotions are on Luke 14-20. We are so glad you are able to read them and I pray you may be blessed by them!
 
Hey I am Brian and I love playing football, going fishing and riding atvs.  I’m glad to have an opportunity to talk to you about Luke 19:1-10 As football season started this year, I earned the spot of quarterback. I was excited and knew that it would be a good year. Through a series of unfortunate events, I had to move away for four weeks rights in the middle of the season. When I returned, I was a little like Zacchaeus (and not because I am short – I’m not) because I had to find a way to stand out and earn back the position that had been given to someone else. Zacchaeus had to climb a tree to stand out above the crowd. I had to work harder than everyone else to prove that I deserved the position for the rest of the season. Bryan
 
Hey I am Olivia, I have a younger sister and brother and an older brother. I was born in Indiana but moved to Louisiana in the 3rd grade. I love animals and want to be a vet. I enjoy sports and being active, I am a proud member of the Blood River Church of God family. 
Last summer I got the chance to go on a mission trip to Panama. While I was there we had a VBS program going for the kids. Before the trip I didn’t see how being good with kids could help me serve God and glorify him. As we went through the week more and more kids started coming and that led to more chances to spread and share the Gospel with them. Luke 19:16-19 Is the parable of the Minas and servants. In this parable the Servants use their gifts to increase their minas and they prosper but the one who did nothing got his mina taken away and it was given to the one who had the most. This story focuses on why we should use our gifts to increase God’s kingdom and to serve others so God may be glorified. What are you doing with your gifts to glorify God?  

Ask & Receive

Luke Chapter 11

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This chapter is loaded with great stuff, but one particular section connected with me the most.  Starting in verse 9, Jesus says, “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

 

Does this mean that you can ask God for virtually anything and it will be given to you?  No it does not. God is probably not going to provide you with a brand new Ferrari, even if you ask very sincerely.  I believe those verses are referring to things that are in alignment with God’s plan for you. 

 

I can assure you that God DOES fulfill this promise.  I have experienced God giving me something I asked for, which was completely out of my hands, and only in His.  And I believe He blessed me this way because it was part of His plan for me.

 

Several years back, the person who does such a wonderful job overseeing these daily devotions, Marcia Railton, asked if I would be willing to teach a class at Midwest Family Camp.  I really hesitated because one of my biggest fears is speaking in front of people. So I asked God to help me with that, and trusting that He would, I accepted the invitation. That was the beginning of me teaching and speaking in nine different states about the truth of the Creation account in scripture and the falsehoods in the evolution theory.  And when I teach or speak on this, God removes all fears I have of speaking in public. I consider that a miracle. I didn’t take any classes to overcome my fear, or psyche myself up. I relied on God, and He delivered, big time.

 

I encourage you to put your Heavenly Father to the test in this area.  If you are feeling called to serve God in some particular way, but feel you are lacking in some area, ask Him to help you.  If you are supernaturally aided in this way, He gets the credit, and you don’t get a big head.  

 

One word of caution however.  SOMETIMES, what we think God’s plans are for us, and what God thinks God’s plans are for us are two different things.  If God is not blessing you on the path you are pursuing, it is not because God is giving you a snake when you wanted a fish, it is probably because you are simply not on the exact path God has mapped out for you.  Pray that He would guide you to the right path, and try again!

 

Greg Landry

 

Serve God With a Good Attitude

I Peter 5

1 Peter 5 2 3 NIV

There is an old Amish proverb that goes something like this:  There are two kinds of leaders: those who are interested in the flock, and those who are interested in the fleece.  In the first part of I Peter 5 there is an admonition given to pastors but it is applicable to all those  who hold leadership roles anywhere.  Leaders are to lead by example.  They are not to be dictators with an accompanying attitude but rather directors who are always directing people in the case of pastors toward Christ, and for other leaders directing people toward the greater vision with a humble attitude.

Peter encourages us and the early believers to honor one another and treat each other respectfully.  Have you ever been around someone who frequently ‘tooted their own horn’?   How annoying is that?  Does it make you want to follow that person’s lead or make you like that person very much?  Think about social media posts you have seen  like this, or maybe even posted yourself.  One Christian leader appropriately called out some posts  as the ‘humble brag’ and targeted how annoying and self-serving  they are.  As Christian brothers and sisters no one should toot their own horn but rather let others give them any due recognition.  Peter reminds us in verse 5 that God hates pride but appreciates true humility.

In serving God with a humble attitude and living a righteous life we can expect to have some opposition.  Opposition can have two effects: either failure, or strength and growth.  In the end of the chapter Peter points out that our adversary the devil  would like to see us fail, and is just waiting to help us to our demise –  but by staying the course God will give us victory.  The admonition for us is to stand firm in our faith and righteousness so that we may glorify God in this life and thus overcome the evil one.

-Merry Peterson

 

 

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

Freedom

James 4

James 4 7

Have you ever read or watched a news feed of any kind and thought to yourself, “Wow, why is the world such a messed-up place?” Odds are you have had these thoughts or said this not just once but many, many times! Unfortunately; we live in a world that is covered in disgrace, selfishness, and unkindness. These things become evident as we look at the world around us and wonder at just how far some have fallen. When we ask how the world got this way it is not a new question and it does not require a new answer. It is an answer that James wrote about a long time ago on a continent far far away (sorry, back on target).

In James 4:1 he asks the question, “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you?” Why are you fighting all the time?!? When he wrote this it wasn’t in the time of instant communication that we have today. He couldn’t use snapchat, private messenger, or even email. Because it would take weeks or even months for responses to go back and forth, he asks the question and immediately supplies the answer. Isn’t it the pleasures that wage war in your members? Have you ever thought of your pleasures as waging war within yourself? If not just think how much you long for the latest and greatest, even when what you already have works just fine. Even more when you go to replace something that is broken.

My phone broke  about a month ago (completely stopped working) and I was faced with the question do I replace it with a new model, attempt to repair the old one, or get a refurbished replacement of the currently broken phone at a fraction of the cost of a newer model. There is a part of me that has always been fascinated with the newest electronics and the new features (after all – I want my phone to be the best, right?). As I was weighing my options I continued to see the latest models waging war against my budget. I reasoned with myself, “It will get updates longer if I get the newer phone, it will have better features.” The fact of the matter is my phone that had just died served me quite well for nearly three years, I know all of its settings and have cases, chargers, and screen protectors that I have already purchased sitting at home. I also get all of these benefits for a quarter to a third of the price. After attempting to have the old phone repaired I finally received the refurbed phone and am quite happy with my decision. All of that to say that I am quite familiar with my desires waging war within me.

He says you lust and envy and it leads you to strife and disagreements, even to murder. He then goes on to say that the only reason you don’t have is that you don’t ask. Jesus said if you seek you will find, we merely have to ask. In verse three we find that just because we ask does not mean we will instantly have the desires of our hearts. If I ask with self-serving motives I will not receive, but if I am needing wisdom to better serve God it will be granted. If I focus my desires and friendship on the world and its pleasures I show myself to be serving stuff, NOT God.

In verses 6 and 7 we find that God gives grace to the humble and we are to submit to Him and His desires because of His mercy and grace. James then says the devil will flee from us if we resist him. That is a magnificent piece of information if you have ever felt tempted to serve your own desires instead of God’s desires!

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8

Do NOT let yourself fall into the trappings of this world that say you can be a slave to the latest and greatest and still serve God, we can have but one master. Do not be double-minded, only serve the things of God. Philippians 2:3, 4 tell us to treat others as if they are a higher priority to us than ourselves, and verse 5 tells us to have the attitude that was in Christ. It is amazing how much this spirit can set us free from the struggles this world consistently brings about. After all, 2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

James also warns us of the arrogance that comes from assuming we know what is going to happen. He reminds us that our lives are in the hands of God. What better place is there to rest?

Let’s rest in His hands and find the freedom that only He can provide!

-Bill Dunn