Friend or Foe?

Don’t be Deceived!

Joshua 9-10

The lessons for us today just keep coming in the book of Joshua! In the last few days we’ve learned from Joshua: arm yourself daily with God’s word for strength and courage and success; God’s will, way and day leads to victory; and stop blaming God when we ought to be dealing with the sin amongst us which will then help us to overcome defeat.

Today we learn valuable intel on how to distinguish friend from foe, how to guard oneself from being deceived, and the all important how to get more hours added to your day. The answer to all three – Ask God. Don’t try to do it on your own. Trust His way and His understanding and His power, not your own.

The Canaanite neighbors have heard how Joshua and the Israelites have destroyed Jericho and Ai (on the second attempt). Some are ready to fight. Others find it easier to deceive. The sly Gibeonites, who live just over the next hill, came to Joshua. Pretending to have just made a long journey from a far off country, with worn-out clothes and old food, they convince the Israelite leaders to make a peace treaty with them. Three days later the Israelites learn they have been tricked. They have just signed a treaty protecting the lives of those who should have been their next targets.

What went wrong? They had been so careful. They had even tasted the Gibeonites’ stale bread! All their senses and intuition and prior knowledge told them this was safe and trustworthy and reliable and in their best interest. Scripture tells us, “The men of Israel sampled their provisions, but did not inquire of the Lord.” (Joshua 9:14 NIV).

I believe it is even harder today to distinguish friend from foe. Satan would love to have the world believe that what and who is actually an enemy of God is harmless, trustworthy or far-off. When actually this danger is at our doorstep, dressed in a disguise. And, since it looks good and convincing and seems to make sense Christians take the bait and sign the peace treaty and align themselves with the enemy. Because they did not inquire of the Lord.

Deception abounds on so many fronts. Who is God? Who is Jesus? What happens when you die? What is the value of a life? Who really has your best interest in mind? Who can be trusted? Who is on God’s side? And who is not?

God knows. And He wants to reveal the answers to you. Ask Him – not your own heart. Seek His wisdom – not man’s. Read His word. Spend time in prayer. Listen – to the Lord. Don’t sign the treaty without His okay.

Our reading in Psalms includes many great verses that would have been great refrigerator verses for the Israelites at that time – if only they had refrigerators.

“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock, and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” Psalm 62:1

“My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” Psalm 62:7-8

Don’t be deceived. Trust God alone.

-Marcia Railton

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Joshua 9-10 and Psalm 62-64

Most Important Message to Pass On

Deuteronomy 1 & 2

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If you only had a short time to live, what would you communicate to those in your circle of influence? I know that is a tough question. I think most of us would want to express our love for special people in our lives, our thanks to those that helped us in life, we might share what we found to be valuable and important in life, we would want to give encouragement and insight…at the top of our list-we would want others to know the importance of a loving, close relationship with God through Christ.

Moses is close to the end of his life as Deuteronomy begins and he has much to convey to the Israelites.  He wants them to learn from the past, he wants them to be prepared for what lies ahead and most importantly, he wants them to rely on God. In the book of Deuteronomy, the title of “the LORD our God” together with “the LORD your God” occurs almost 300 times along with many uses of “the LORD”. Moses wants the Israelites to rely on the LORD. He reminds them that in the wilderness they saw how the “LORD your God” carried you just as a man carries his son. He reminds them that the “LORD your God” went before them to lead the way and gave them places to camp. He was there in fire by night and cloud by day to show them the way to go. Moses wants the Israelites to trust God.

Unfortunately, my dad and mom are no longer living, but one of their messages to me was to trust God. I am eternally grateful for that message. We may lose loved ones through life, but God is always with us and we can trust Him.

Rebecca Dauksas

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+1-2&version=NIV

 

Tomorrow’s passage will be Deuteronomy 3-4 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

Letting God be God

 Job 38-39

Job 38 33 35a CSB

The end of Job takes a dramatic turn as one more speaker steps in to answer Job’s question of why bad things happen to good people. For the previous 35 or so chapters, Job and his friends have tried to sort out this question based on their own understanding. In chapter 38, the only one whose opinion matters steps in to set the record straight. God speaks and asks of Job and his friends, “Who is this who obscures My counsel with ignorant words? Get ready to answer Me like a man; when I question you, you will inform Me” (Job 38:2-3). God then begins to ask Job a series of questions about the earth and its creation. The question God begins with is “Where were you when I established the earth? Who fixed its dimensions? What supports its foundations?” (Job 38:4-6). To all of these questions, Job could only meekly respond, ‘God, you did. Only you could know.’

 

Too often in life, we can feel like we know what’s best for our lives. We have things all planned out, from where we are going to get lunch the next day to where we will go to college or get a job. When our plans don’t match up with our realities, we can begin to question God’s goodness. Because our lives don’t match up with the ‘good’ plans that we have created, we may think that God is not good. These chapters in Job reorient us to the deep truth that we need to cling to when faced with these discrepancies between our plans and life’s reality: We are not God. Job’s questions and those of his friends all centered around their actions and their righteousness. When God steps in, he redirects them to the real truth about their lives, the scriptures, and the universe as a whole. It all exists for the glory of God. In addition to this, all of creation was made by God. He knows the purpose behind what exists and what occurs. He is using all of these things to bring him glory.

 

So, when we begin to question God and ask why his plans don’t match our own, we can rest in the fact that God is God. He is sovereign and has a plan for our lives. Sometimes that plan can be painful, but ultimately, that is helping us to become mature and complete in our Christian walk (James 1). When we allow God to be God, it’s easier for us to fulfill our main purpose in life: living our lives to glorify him.
Cayce Fletcher
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+38-39&version=CSB
Tomorrow’s reading will be the final chapters of Job – 40-42.  And then we will jump back into where we left off in the book of Genesis as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan.  Let’s SeekGrowLove together!

Follow God Fully

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In Numbers 13 is a well-known Bible story, The Israelites were at their promised land and God told them to send in spies to spy out the land “that he was going to give to the sons of Israel.” They had just witnessed the deliverance from the army of Pharaoh and then God had provided them with manna, water, and quail as they traveled.

As we learned in a song years ago “12 men went to Canaan land, 10 were bad and 2 were good.” The spies came back and reported that the land was good but the people were strong and the cities are fortified, they are descendants of the giants. In verses 30-31 Caleb said “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we shall surely overcome it.”  But the men said “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” In Chapter 14:7-10 Joshua says “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” After he tells them this, the congregation wanted to stone Caleb and Joshua. The two that knew God would take care of them, and give them the land that he promised them, are threatened by the rest of the congregation.

After this God decides that the people of Israel will wander in the desert until that generation dies, Joshua and Caleb are the only ones that will go into the promised land of that generation. Ch. 14 v. 24 says “But my servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it.”  The difference between Joshua and Caleb, and the other 10, was not that they were smarter, or stronger than them but that they put their trust in God. They wandered in the desert for 40 years because they did not trust that God was in control and that He would never leave them or forsake them. Deuteronomy 6:5 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

We only have to wander in the desert for 40 years when we don’t follow God wholly. As we live our lives, I pray that we will all have the spirit of Caleb and follow God fully. Let’s go into the Promised Land that God has prepared for us even when things look too difficult for us, because we know that God will take care of the obstacles in our way. When we have trust in God, we know that things that are too difficult for us alone can be accomplished because God is with us.

Sherry Alcumbrack

Obeying Immediately and Without Questions

Matthew 2

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How do you deal with situations where you have to completely change what you had planned?  I always think I have a long term plan for my life.  When it doesn’t work out, or I have to change something, I don’t always deal well with it.

I want to look at how Joseph reacts to some very difficult situations.  I am going to jump back to Matthew chapter 1 for the first example.  Joseph found out Mary was pregnant and planned to divorce her quietly.  Then, he is visited by an angel, and was told in Matthew 1:21-22, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a Son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”  So, first Joseph plans to marry Mary.  Then, when she is pregnant, he plans to divorce her quietly.  So, his plans have already been messed up once before being visited by the angel.  He is given a message from God.  How does he react?  By everything we see in scripture, it appears Joseph just listened to what God told him through the angel, and accepted it.  That is amazing faith and obedience.

The second example is after the visit from the magi.  This was probably one to two years later.  We don’t have any real information about the life of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus during this time, but most likely they had settled into a routine and things were fairly normal.  Then, after the Magi visit, Joseph receives another message from an angel. Matthew 2:13 record this message to Joseph, “Get up!  Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.”  Again, his reaction was swift and decisive.  Matthew 2:14 says, “So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt.”  He didn’t even wait till morning but left immediately.

Then, sometime later, an angel appeared to Joseph a third time.  This time he was told, “Get up, take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child’s life are dead” in Matt 2:20.  So, he went back to Israel, but because he was warned in a dream, they went to Nazareth.  Again, there are no signs of questioning, just doing what he was told.

I have never been spoken to by an angel, so I don’t know how I would react in that situation.  However, I have received direction from God in some pretty clear ways.  I questioned what I was being told because it did not fit into my plans.  So, I know that this immediate obedience is extremely difficult, but when we put all our trust in God, it is possible.

-Andrew Hamilton

Genuine Prayer

1 John 5

1 John 5_15

 

Hello, my friends!

Isn’t it strange to think this greeting that was written at 8:30am on the 31st of January got to you sometime today – or even later?

That is how communication works between people sometimes: it takes time, it’s not immediate, but it’s likely to reach you eventually. Some people won’t even receive my special salutation, because they did not read the devotion today. And that’s ok.

In fact, if I yelled as loud as I could right now, you will still not be able to hear me.

HELLO, MY FRIENDS!!

Did you hear me? No? Shocking. You’re human, therefore you could not. Let me try something else…

Hi, God.

Guess what? He heard me. You know what is even better? He can hear you too. Our prayers don’t take time to reach Him. They are delivered immediately, and they will never be lost in the mail. God hears you.

Therefore, when you pray, pray genuinely.  Don’t hold back. You can trust that God is listening. God loves you so dearly that He wants you to pour out your heart to Him. He wants to hear all about your day, the ups and downs, concerns, visions, everything. Lay it all at His feet, because He can take it. To top it all off, He never gets tired of listening.

To be honest, sometimes it feels like God can’t hear our prayers. Sometimes it feels like God isn’t present in our lives. Sometimes it feels like God won’t care about us, let alone what our deepest desires are. But those are just feelings. God does hear. He is present. And He certainly cares.

Therefore, pray genuinely – even when if feels like God can’t hear you, even when life is perfect, and even when everything seems to be falling apart. People may not always be there for you, and they certainly won’t always hear you. But God will always hear your prayers. So pray like you mean it.

– Madison Cisler

Choices and Truth

 

Jeremiah 24-26

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Monday, March 6

I had two major thoughts when reading Jeremiah today…

1) We are free to choose, but we are not free from the consequences of our choices.

2) Speaking a tough truth is hard to do!

God has rules for us to follow.  In fact, He has an entire book of what rules we need to follow and examples of how to follow them.  And yet here we are… still breaking the rules.  And no one is forcing us to break them, it’s all on us!  Jeremiah 25:7 says “But you did not listen to me,’ declares the LORD, ‘and you have aroused my anger with what your hands have made and you have brought harm to yourselves.”

We make choices every single day.  Some are good, some are bad.  But we have the freedom to choose how we will live our lives.  What we do not have is freedom from the consequences of what we choose.  Sinner or saint, Christian or not, at some point we will all have to stand before the throne and answer for our choices.  God makes it clear, He explains exactly what will happen when we don’t follow His rules.  Nothing is going to spare us from the wrath His cup will pour out (25:15) except for our own choices.  I would much rather have God’s eyes watching over us and building us up (24:6), wouldn’t you?

Chapter 26 tells us about how Jeremiah prophesied the hard truth to the people of Judah.  He told them that their city would become desolate and deserted (26:9).  Obviously, they did not take that too kindly and ended up threatening his life!  But Jeremiah did not back down from the truth he knew he was speaking.  He opened himself up, he told them to do whatever they wanted to him but that it wouldn’t change his message (26:14-15)!  Because of this, God protected him and they spared his life.  Now let’s jump down to Uriah’s story.  He preached the same message as Jeremiah did to the same people, yet his life was not spared in the end.  The difference?  Uriah fled when they threatened him.  He was afraid of what people were going to do to him.  He lacked the same faith and trust in God’s protection that Jeremiah had, and he suffered because of it.  So, how can this apply to your life?  Speak truth and don’t back down.  God’s got your back, even when it seems like you’re on your own against an angry city!

-Sarah Blanchard

 

(Photo Credit: quotescodex.com)

No Other

Isaiah 45-47

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Sunday, February 19

So I just want to begin by prefacing a little bit about my goal for this week. As mentioned in the little introduction of myself (found below), I have a major passion for music. I truly feel God’s presence the most when I can be lost in music and praise to him. Some of you may feel this way too which is cool, and if you don’t that is totally fine too. However, every single time I read my Bible, or listen to a pastor speak, different songs ALWAYS come to mind, seriously. So this week as I read and write devotions for you all, I will also include a song or two or three, that came to my mind as I read the passage for the day. Hopefully those songs that I send can speak in some way as well.

Let’s begin! There are a lot of things that go on in these 3 chapters in Isaiah and each have a slightly different theme. Chapter 45 is talking about what God has promised to do for his anointed one, Cyrus, simply because God knows him and has always known him. God tells Cyrus that he will use him to show others all about God, and his power. God says, there is no one else, none like him. God is all powerful and amazing. If I had to pick one small passage out of this whole chapter to be my favorite (of the chapter) it would be Isaiah 45:2-6

“I will go before, and make the rough places smooth. I will break the doors of brass in pieces, and cut apart the bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that you know that it is I, Yahweh, who calls you by your name, even the God of Israel. For Jacob My servant’s sake, and Israel my chosen, I have called you by your name. I have surnamed you, though you have not known me. I am Yahweh, and there is none else. Besides me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not known me; that they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none besides me. I am Yahweh and there is no one else.”

Even though these are all things promised to Cyrus, we have the same hope. God knew us before we knew him, he has always known us and has plans for us, and he will do what he can to help us when we seek him and we seek his guidance, because he has already done those things for us. His son already died to save us, to make a way to find a relationship with God, it has already been done, so what are you waiting for? Ask God for his guidance, and trust that he will break the doors of brass in pieces, he will strengthen you so others can know him. Have trust in Yahweh.

Now Isaiah 46 continues with the theme of God being the only God, the only one. There is none beside him. Others like Bel and Nebo bow to idols and they have nothing to show for it. They are weary and stooped and tired, they do not find spiritual renewal in their idols, because that can only come from God. God, Yahweh, loves us and he is the beginning and the end, and in Isaiah 46:13 he promises Israel that he will deliver them soon. “I bring near my righteousness, it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not wait; and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel, My glory.”

Isaiah 47 takes a much darker tone as the daughter of Babylon is called out for the error of her ways. This chapter is very much a warning to us, as it was to her as well. She had said that she does not fear widowhood or the possibility of losing children because no one sees what she does. She trusts in her wickedness, she is deceived by the manipulation and perversion of her knowledge. This chapter says that since she has trusted in her wickedness desolation and evil will come upon her. It later says in verse 15 “Thus shall the things be to you in which you have laboured: for those who have trafficked with you from your youth shall wander each one to his place; there shall be none to save you.” Even though this chapter is very dark and can seem scary, there is hope that wasn’t mentioned. Yes there are no people who have the power to save us from our sins, but God can! When we accept that Jesus his Son died for our sins, even though he was perfect and blameless, and we commit our lives to God and promise to glorify him in what we do and we work towards that we can be saved from our wickedness, we can be delivered. This chapter is a warning to us, and we should heed it. We are blessed to be given this book with such clear warnings, that can encourage us to seek God’s heart rather than the desires of sins.

Today’s songs are: “YHWH Saves”- by Aaron Winner, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIFUi_qa6k8

“Come Now Is the Time to Worship” by Craig and Dean Phillips https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPWq8eM4lu8


“All the Poor and Powerless” by All Sons and Daughters https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieOL4X3nk2c

-Jana Swanson
Synopsis of Jana: Hey everyone! My name is Jana Swanson and I am a junior at Ball State University in Muncie IN. A few fun facts about me: My favorite color is green, although purple is a close second, I have been to Midwest Family camp 20 times, I am an avid Jesus lover, blogger, and college student. I have a passion for music- at many camps you may find me helping with worship, or singing with friends, or singing kids to sleep. I also have a passion for helping people. If you have any questions for me at all about anything feel free to email me at jmswanson97@gmail.com Thanks for reading the Bible with us this year, and I pray that my words can comfort you or reach you in some way.
(photo credit: http://www.christianwallpapersfree.com/2016/02/isaiah-45-2-bible-verse-wallpaper.html)

What Does This History Have to do with ME? (2 Samuel 21-22)

Tuesday, October 24

By Sherry Alcumbrack

As we are reading through the Old Testament, we are seeing wonderful stories of the patriarchs of our faith and the history of the Israelites. I love history, so to me it’s fascinating, but it’s not just history. We need to read it with an eye toward, thinking about how this affects us in our lives today. In every chapter it speaks to characters that will help us develop into godly people that will impact the world around us.

In Chapter 21, life for the Jewish people follows a similar pattern. While King David is leading them, God continues to be them. But not all is hunky dory. The Philistines still really hate them and would like nothing better than to annihilate them. They have to go up to battle them 3 times. They even kill Goliath’s brother and other members of the family, one was a giant with 6 fingers on each hand and 6 toes on each foot (24 in all)…ewww!!! But they defeated them in every battle. When we pray for a miracle and God answers our prayers, how do we act? King David knows how to be thankful. Chapter 22 is a beautiful song of praise for God.

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What are some characteristics of a rock or fortress? They are solid, unmovable, and unshakeable. These are some of the characteristics of God and we can confidently place our trust in him.

King David went through a lot of things in his life with King Saul trying to kill him, many battles with the enemies of Israel, and even his son trying to kill him. He looked to God to be his protector, his hiding place. Verse 7 says, “In my distress I called upon the Lord and cried out to my God.” We need to realize that God is our only hope as we go through the different struggles in our lives.

The creator of the universe, the one who created thunder, lightning, the sea, and the foundations of the world is our defender. King David tells us who his deliverer was in verses 17-20, he did not try to take any of the glory. He said, “He is my support and He delivered me because He delighted in me.” We need to realize that God delights in giving us his help and shelter during our storms. He is there for us just as he was there to help King David. He tells why God delights in him; because he kept the ways of the Lord, he did not depart from God, he kept His judgements before him, and did not depart from His statutes. But verse 23 is key. “Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness, According to my cleanness in His eyes.” Like I said yesterday, once God forgives you, you are forgiven. We can be thankful that when he looks at us he doesn’t see the sins we have committed in our lives, he sees his son Jesus who was sinless.

God’s way is perfect, the word of the Lord is proven. He is a shield to those who trust in Him.

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It’s Time to Build …Finally (Exodus 35-37)

By Josiah Cain

holy of holies

After many chapters of instructions it is finally time for the people to craft these objects and put the tabernacle together. Not just any old person built things for God; only the ones filled with His spirit were builders. It says that these people were filled with craftsmanship and intelligence this way they could accurately build all that God commanded them.

I also liked how God provided for his tabernacle by having the people give but only if they wanted to give. God didn’t force people to give like He did with the flat tax rather He only wanted those who really cared to give. So many people were moved that Moses had to command the people to stop bringing stuff because they had more than enough to finish the project.

I always enjoy seeing God interact with His people and how He provides for what needs to be done. If we trust God with everything we won’t be disappointed by Him, I promise.