Each morning (Monday – Saturday) we’ll post a new Scripture reading, paired with a few paragraphs written by one of the leaders at Harbor to help you reflect on the verses and focus on a specific teaching from the Bible. They’ll take just a couple of minutes to read (and are best paired with prayer!), providing a perfect way to start your day with your focus on God.
Daily Directional: 6.6.20
Written by: Kaleigh Adams
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
There’s a lot of information coming in these days (or at least that’s what it feels like to me) so I wanted to share something simple with you. A small promise from scripture to encourage you to press on.
Often doing the right thing feels futile, like a drop in the ocean as we see what is happening in the world around us. Our small acts of obedience feel pointless when injustice continues, when divisions become larger, when wrong seems to triumph. Maybe for some of us it’s more personal: a broken relationship that doesn’t mend despite our best efforts, a physical ailment that isn’t alleviated in spite of our prayers.
I can’t tell you what your harvest will look like. I can’t tell you that eventually God will respond the exact way that you want Him to. What I can offer is the promise that we are given in Galatians. God will bless us at just the right time, if we don’t give up. The work of our faith in the day to day is often the simple exercise of choosing to trust God, even when His provision seems delayed.
Do not get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get tired when it would be easier to give up, don’t get tired when your efforts feel pointless, don’t get tired when other’s mock you, don’t get tired when it seems like God doesn’t see you. God has promised that His blessings come in perfect timing, He has promised that there is a reward for your effort. So do not despair, and do not give up. God can and will work through your trust and through your obedience— so let’s keep doing what is good.
Daily Directional: 6.5.20
Written by: Kimberly Rockness
Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)
And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:10)
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. (Ephesians 5:8-10)
We pride ourselves on being “busy” people. We like to get things done and be productive. But how do we know at the end of the day if all our busy-ness has been truly fruitful?
In the life of David, we see an example of a man who was known as “a man after God’s own heart.” In addition to being a man who lived a life of worship, he also modeled the kind of leader God desires…most of the time. David was known for “inquiring of the Lord” before he made any decision. In other words, before he acted, he got God’s perspective on it. However, there are a few times David does not inquire of the Lord before acting and the results are disastrous. One such incident finds him going ahead with his plan without getting God’s perspective, as well as ignoring good counsel. You can read about it and the resulting devastation in I Chronicles 21 and 2 Samuel 24. Oh, there was a lot done during this time – over 9 months worth of work to accomplish the task of taking the census. It wasn’t the taking of the census that was David’s sin. In fact, there are times in Scripture God even commands it. However, David’s reasons for doing it (most likely pride and trusting in numbers rather than God) were not pleasing to God. David later admits his sin, but this does not remove the consequences of his actions. There was a lot of time and effort expended on a task that kept a lot of people in David’s kingdom busy and productive. A huge task was completed but, in God’s eyes, it was far from fruitful.
Jesus tells his disciples in John that apart from Him they can do nothing. Nothing. Well, if you look around, we are all doing a whole lot each day, so it’s not as though we are actually doing nothing, but the question is – are we living a fruitful life, one that is “worthy of the Lord,” a life that pleases Him? It’s not just that we are physically unable to do anything. Clearly, we can accomplish a great deal in this life – but we will do nothing of worth apart from God – nothing truly fruitful.
What is it that qualifies as fruitful in God’s eyes? A fruitful life is one that pleases the Lord. Paul instructs us in Ephesians, as children of light, to find out what pleases the Lord. Think about the effect of light on plants. Plants that don’t live in the light will wither away eventually. Just as plants need light to be fruitful, only by living in the light of God’s truth will we grow and thrive and have a fruitful life.
Jesus says that we will not bear fruit unless we remain in Him. He reveals the key to remaining in Him in John 15:10 “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in His love.” We see a principle that is simple, although not always easy. It is up to us to “find out what pleases the Lord” and then to do it. We get to know the Lord and what pleases Him through reading His Word and listening to the godly counsel He puts in our lives. As we obey God’s directives, we are promised that our life will be fruitful.
How can we know if all our “doing” is pleasing to the Lord? “We know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands.” (I John 2:3) The evidence of really knowing and loving God is that we are people who are characterized by obeying His commands. When we obey Him, our lives will bear the fruit of a life that pleases God – a life that is loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. (Gal. 5:22-23)
Daily Directional: 6.4.20
Written by: Lori Dutra
Jeremiah 10:23 “Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.”
Proverbs 16:9 “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”
I recently suffered a knee injury that suddenly made me very aware of how I walk: “Heel-toe, heel-toe” is what the nurse said, and now I’m mindful of every step I take. I’m finally off the crutches, but moving slowly, occasionally grabbing onto things for support and balance.
I am one who goes, goes, goes from one project to the next, always having something to do, wanting to be productive. I stay busy cleaning, organizing, planning, fixing, straightening, scrolling – DOING – but often overlooking the more important things that should be the focus of my time and energy. My steps are pressured, hectic and misguided, the furthest thing from being “mindful”.
My Heavenly Father knows me SO WELL and loves me so much. He allows “injuries”- events – into my life to slow me down, stop me in my tracks, and redirect my steps. Like a parent when a child wanders, God wants to guide the steps of my life in the right direction, away from harm. I know God is stopping me in my tracks to break this exhausting cycle.
Breaking bad habits and wrong cycles is uncomfortable; it slows my spiritual progress, like walking on crutches. I feel spiritually like I do physically – like I’m hobbling around awkwardly. But God promises me in His Word (if I’d only take the time to read it) that I can come out stronger from every challenge, and that He’s with me every step of the way.
Isaiah 41:10 “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
My Heavenly Father supports me and holds me up, like my crutches do, until I’m ready to start walking (with Him) again.
But here I go AGAIN! I’m finally able to walk without my crutches, and I still want to hobble around the house overdoing it, putting unnecessary strain on my knee. And here comes the weakness and discomfort again! I have to hold onto things to stay balanced.
How similar this is to when I try to walk without God. I wander off His perfect path, heading straight for the path that I want. It never fails. I think that I don’t need God’s help; I can do my own thing. I’ll take control. I’ll do “me”. But as much as I try, I HAVE to hold onto something! And if it’s not my Heavenly Father, I fall.
The more I try to direct my own steps, the more I wander off His good and perfect path. And the more I wander without His support, the more weakness and discomfort I have. And SURPRISE – now I need to stop, ice, and elevate.
And so it is in my spiritual life. God is teaching me to STOP trying to GO-GO-GO! He’s teaching me to REST and TRUST in Him. He’s teaching me that I need spiritual ‘ice and elevation’ – to study His Word, to pray, to rest in His presence. Sometimes I get it right, other times not. But my Heavenly Father loves and forgives me. He knows I’m doing my best – with His guidance – to walk with “mindful steps.”
Daily Directional: 6.3.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
“And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” 1 Thessalonians 5:14
I remember learning this verse in a counseling class in college. The professor called it the instruction manual for how to counsel. Since Pastor Josh has been speaking on relationships, I began to think about this verse as a great guideline for relationships and how we interact with others.
First, “be patient with everyone,” at the end of the verse, is the overarching theme of how we should interact with all people; with patience. If I was just better at this one, I know all my relationships would be better.
Let’s look at rest of this verse. There are three different types of people; the idle, the disheartened and the weak. The word idle was used in Greek society for those who did not show up for work. Some translations use the word lazy or disorderly/out of ranks—those who are choosing to walk in a way contrary to what God has directed them to. For these people we are instructed to admonish. The word admonish here in the Greek translates to warn, caution and gently reprove. This is not condemnation; this is a warning coming from love and requires patience.
The disheartened are those who, because of life (nurture or nature), are timid and lack courage. Paul instructs us to patiently encourage or calm them. And the weak, or those without strength, need to be helped. In the Greek the word help here translates to “keep oneself directly opposite, to hold to him firmly.” It is a support when someone is without strength.
I encourage you in your relationships to first be patient with everyone, but also to try and understand where the person is coming from and to use this wisdom from the Bible as a help for how best to approach the situation.
Daily Directional: 6.2.20
Written by: Shawn Brown
Who hasn’t done a little bit of “binge watching” during this stay-at-home advisory across the Commonwealth? My daughter Erin and I recently watched one of her FAVORITE movies from when she was growing up, “Soul Surfer”, the true story of Bethany Hamilton and her life as a surfer after a horrific shark attack.
During one scene, a character quotes Jeremiah 29:11, ‘“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”’ Erin just about jumped off the couch! “Every girl in middle school had that as their favorite Bible verse!”
Who doesn’t love an inspiring Bible verse, right? However, do we remember what Jeremiah 29:10 says?? “The Lord says: “You will be (in exile) in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.”
Wait, what? I need to wait 70 years in exile before I get the good things you’ve promised, Lord? Heck, I bet to the people who heard that message, the previous generation’s circumstances of wandering in the desert for 40 years looked like a pretty good deal.
To some of us right now, it may indeed feel like we’re all in some sort of 70 year exile. The reality of this “situation” for us is that it’s barely been 70 days! But the fact of the matter is, this is just a season in our lives. Yes, hold on to the promise of Jeremiah 29:11, but remember all the other promises we get from the divine word of God. We are not alone, for Isaiah 41:13 reminds us that, “I hold you by your right hand – I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.’” In this time of testing, remember that, “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12) When our thoughts get the best of us and it seems like we have no one who will listen, remember, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” (Philippians 4:6) Trust in the Lord, “My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying. Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart.” (Proverbs 3:1-3)
Pastor Josh reminded us during one of the 8:28’s to “be hungry” and try to memorize a verse of scripture every week – not just during these times, but during all times. That way, when you need to do battle against the forces of evil, you have “the Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” in your heart to help you fight the battle!
Daily Directional: 6.1.20
Written by: Pastor Ron Sears
Did you know… John Maxwell wrote that most people who desire success mistakenly focus almost entirely on themselves and not others.
Douglas Lawson wrote, “We exist temporarily through what we take, but we live forever through what we give.”
The current world shutdown has given each of us time – to do the forgotten; complete the unfinished; to (even in our self separation) invest in others.
The Bible is filled with examples. Ruth had Naomi. Moses found his Joshua. Elijah was given Elisha. And on a road to nowhere Saul was given Jesus.
If you can see God’s plan in all of this, you can find true success.
Help someone learn commitment and express, “May nothing but death separate us.” Learn to lead from the wilderness into the Land of Promise by walking with the elder. Show someone God’s plan so they can accomplish twice as much as you.
From your “prison” called quarantine, write a note and say… “In all these things we are more than conquerers through Christ.”
True success comes when one generation impacts the next; one person touches another…
When asked for a final message from his deathbed, the founder of the Salvation Army simply said, “Others.”
Use this quarantine wisely and focus on others.
Daily Directional: 5.30.20
Take some time this morning to simply reflect, pray, and focus on these words from the Bible. These daily directionals are great, but it’s much more important that we are spending personal time in God’s Word, and personal time with God in prayer. Take this opportunity to do just that.
14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Daily Directional: 5.29.20
Written by: Kristen Lambrich
Canonizing the order of the Bible was a heated debate for hundreds of years (and still today according to some groups). We don’t often think about how or why this massive book we pick up is organized the way it is, but I think it is an interesting history lesson to look into. If you spent much time in Sunday school growing up you may be able to rattle off the books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Joshua…etc. But did you know that according to the original Hebrew tradition these Old Testament books were in a different order? Much of it the same, but the overall layout of the books were placed into the Torah (or teaching), the Prophets, and the Writings. For thousands of years the Word of God was taught to the Jewish people in roughly this order, and though the order of the Bible is not divinely inspired, the scripture itself is. So how did this divinely inspired scripture end in its original form just prior to Jesus arriving in history? The answer may surprise some of you: Chronicles.
The last chapter of Chronicles ends with a summary of a succession of kings who ruled over Israel. One of the final kings, Zedekiah, “did evil in the sight of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 36:12). The chapter goes on to say, “The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place; but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, until there was no remedy.” (2 Chronicles 36:15-16) The final verses end as a new king takes this kings place, and with the Lord’s blessing on him he says, “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all His people, may the Lord his God be with him, and let him go up!” (2 Chronicles 36:23) This story may seem like an odd way to end the chapters of history before Jesus, but in reality it is a direct parallel to the sinful condition of humanity and the great restorative gift God gives us in His son. Israel had yet again abandoned the Lord, and we read here that God specifically sends messengers “again and again” in an attempt to rescue them until “there was no remedy.” What better way to end the chapters of biblical history than to be reminded that we were once beyond remedy. Israel, like us, was at the very end of its rope. In this story, Israel was sent a king, Cyrus, who corralled the people to rebuild the temple of God, to pave a way for restoration. Likewise in our story, at the very end of our rope, God sent us a messenger in John the Baptist to pave the way for our ultimate restoration through Jesus Christ. In the final chapter of the final book of the original Old Testament, God was building a new kingdom for His people.
If you were to read those words a few thousand years ago and then flip the page into Matthew where the opening lines are the historical genealogy of Jesus set in the right place in history to be the Messiah, the story would have seemed seamless! Of course the true new kingdom is not a physical one, but a new kingdom of eternal salvation in Jesus. What a hope for us today to read the dejecting phrase “until there was no remedy” to flip the next page to Jesus came.
Daily Directional: 5.28.20
Written by: Kaleigh Adams
Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have no reward with your Father in heaven. So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward. But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:1-6
Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24
The power of scripture is its ability to pierce through our surface appearance and reach down into the reality of our motivations. In that respect, the passages above are (in my opinion) some of the most painful in the entire Bible.
In the era of social media it sometimes feels as though we are just a collection of the things we project. Even for those who aren’t heavy social media users, it can feel sometimes like nothing we do is real if nobody notices it. But when we adopt this mindset, our acts of kindness begin to take on an air of selfishness as we “practice our righteousness in front of others, to be seen by them.” We begin to seek validation from the very people we are trying to serve, we become more consumed with receiving praise than we are with loving those around us.
This view can also lead us to discouragement when we feel that we aren’t being noticed, or thanked properly. We may even stop doing good things, sure that nobody appreciates them and that it is all pointless.
This is not the kind of service believers are called to. As followers of Christ, human affirmation should never be our goal. Instead, we are called to love and to serve and to give because it is right, not because it makes us look good. God uses our good works to point others to Him, yes, but it is His power — and not our own effort — that fuels that process.
When we do things God’s way, it removes the barriers that so often drive a wedge between us and others. When we do right and trust that God sees us, even when nobody else does, it removes the chance for bitterness, envy, resentment and greed to take root in our hearts. This is what allows God’s power to shine through us, so that others will come to know Him because of our example.
Daily Directional: 5.27.20
Written by: Pastor Josh Adams
Don’t Look Too Hard
“Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.””Daniel 6:3-5
When I was younger my mother would often make cleaning my room a prerequisite for being allowed to do the most recent thing I had requested to do; go play outside, ride my bike, hang out at a friend’s house, etc. She would inspect my work like a a drill sergeant looking for infractions. I remember that feeling of nervously watching her look around my room, inspecting the bed spread, peering under the bed for tossed toys or dirty clothes. I would stand nearby just whispering under my breath – “don’t look too hard”.
This “inspection” from my childhood came to mind when I was reading the story of Daniel. This part of the story often gets skipped on our way to reading about Daniel in the lions’ den (spoiler alert: he makes it out). But these verses aren’t in the Bible to act as filler. They remind us of a few important takeaways.
1. There are people out there looking for a reason to discredit you. Now that doesn’t mean everyone is out to get you, but it does mean we all have our critics. Especially those of us trying to live our faith out loud for the world to see. Some people don’t want to see your faith, they just want to see your failure.
2. Those critics are going to be thorough. Like my mom, or any good drill sergeant, your critics will also be very intentional to inspect the tiny corners and dark closets they think you’re most likely to be hiding something.
My question to you today, is: how hard do they need to look? How long would they have to read your social media posts? How long would they have to listen to one of your conversations at the water cooler? How many texts messages or browser histories would they need to inspect before they found something to condemn you? If you knew they were looking through your trash can right now, would you be whispering “don’t look too hard”?
We all have issues. Even me. Especially me. I’m not writing this to guilt trip you or make you feel ashamed. I writing it to remind you that 1)Christ died to forgive those sins and to remove that shame. And 2) That if we know people are looking for a reason to discredit our faith, to shame our Savior, to mock our Hope… then we have to ask ourselves: ‘are we making it easy for them?’
I hope not.
Let us all live our lives (privately and publicly) in a way that would say ‘there was no error or fault found in him/her.’
Daily Directional: 5.26.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
“While Jeremiah was still confined in the courtyard of the guard, the word of the Lord came to him a second time: ‘This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’” Jeremiah 33:1-3
Call to Me
Jeremiah 33:3 is a familiar verse to me, in fact a few months back this was the Harbor Kids memory verse and I loved seeing the videos of the kids reciting it. But I didn’t realize the verses surrounding it, or the complete context this promise from God was given. Jeremiah was in prison. And this is what God wanted him to know. First, he reminds Jeremiah that He is LORD (Yahweh), the LORD that formed the earth. When God refers to himself as Yahweh, he is reminding Jeremiah (and Israel) of his covenant, promise making, promise keeping, faithful relationship with Israel. The God that made everything and keeps all his promises is speaking, listen up Jeremiah.
Next, God tells Jeremiah to call to him and God promises to answer. The God who made the earth and keeps his promises, promises Jeremiah and Israel, that if they called to him, he would answer them. This promise may have been meant for Jeremiah and Israel, but the faithfulness of God is eternal, the principle that when we call out to God, he answers us is for everyone. Jesus himself said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” Matthew 7:7.
Like Jeremiah who was in prison, maybe the last few months have felt a little like prison. If you’re feeling a little stuck—stuck at home, stuck in anxiety, stuck in a rut—call to God, ask him, seek him, and he will “answer you, and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
Daily Directional: 5.25.20
Written by: Katie Rose Ritchie
“Those who trust their own insight are foolish, but anyone who walks in wisdom is safe.” Proverbs 28:26
I stumbled across this verse the other day, and couldn’t believe how counter cultural it is. Everywhere we look, we are told that YOU can do it and YOU’VE got this. It appears that, if we would just believe in ourselves and try hard enough, we can make it happen – the dream job, dream family, dream relationships, etc.
Yet here we see the exact opposite. If we trust our own insight, we are fools. Yikes.
The truth is, I love my own insight. I think the things that go on in my brain are great! Right up until I make a mistake, or come into conflict with someone else who also seems to think that their ideas are awesome, or need to make a decision and suddenly realize that I don’t have all the answers.
Through prayer, however, I have direct access to the God who created the entire universe. The God who created the moon and the stars and sunflowers and mountains wants me to tap into Him as the source of wisdom for my life. And He wants to give that wisdom freely!
Prayer is such an easy thing to write about, or talk about, or think about, but it is often incredibly difficult to actually do. It takes patience, and discipline, and complete trust in a God that you cannot see and a process that rarely brings immediate results. Like anything worth doing, true and honest prayer takes time.
But if we want to walk in wisdom, we cannot hope to do it without building intentional prayer time into our everyday lives – because we can spend all day talking about God, but if we’re not talking to Him, where are our insights really coming from?
Maybe you have a great, consistent time of prayer with God everyday. I hope you do. But maybe (like everyone I have ever known has experienced at some point) you’re struggling to find the time, or the space, or the words, or the faith to talk to God. I’d challenge you right now to simply….do it. Don’t worry about saying the right things, or allotting the proper amount of time, or getting mad at yourself when your mind drifts. Just talk to God, openly and honestly.
If you don’t have the words – tell Him that. If you’re struggling with doubts – tell Him that. If you’re scared or anxious – tell Him that. And if you, like me, are tired of trusting in your own insights – tell Him that, and ask for the wisdom to walk forward.
Daily Directional: 5.23.20
Written by: Pastor Josh Adams
WHAT YOU DON’T WANT TO HEAR…
One day a young man came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”
Jesus tells him to keep the commandments from the Old Testament and recites a few to the young man, and then we see the story take a turn, you can read what happens next:
“I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?” Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” Matthew 19:20-22
What I noticed (and what I’d like for you to pray on today) is that Jesus says something so pointed (and on the surface, even hurtful!) that the young man is taken aback. The Bible says he leaves sad/depressed.
Why would Jesus do that?!?
When given the opportunity to encourage or uplift someone, shouldn’t we? Of course! BUT we aren’t supposed to lie either.
Jesus actually models what a REAL friend should be. What a real teacher does. How a real leader reacts. Jesus was a true friend.Jesus told the young man a hard truth. Jesus gave him a honest but poignant fact about what life “on mission” is supposed to look like.
Too often people think it’s unkind to speak truth into someone’s life. That’s probably why some people choose to never say anything confrontational to their friends. But is that really working? Are you really a friend if you don’t give honest truth?
Don’t get me wrong: You need grace to be coupled with truth. You don’t use “truth” to beat someone up. It’s not a knife to stab them with, it’s a scalpel to do surgery in order to help them get better.
Choose your words carefully, your friendships depend on them. Choose your friendships wisely because your future is shaped by them.
Proverbs 27:6 “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”
1 Thessalonians 5:14 “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”
Psalm 141:5 “Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me;It is oil upon the head;
Do not let my head refuse it,
For still my prayer is against their wicked deeds.”
Daily Directional: 5.22.20
Join us this morning as we take some time to focus on a few specific verses. Pray through these verses, think about them, talk about them, and ask God how He might use them to guide you toward being more like Jesus today.
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Daily Directional: 5.21.20
Written by: Kristen Lambrich
Whenever the Lord raised up a judge over Israel, he was with that judge and rescued the people from their enemies throughout the judge’s lifetime. For the Lord took pity on his people, who were burdened by oppression and suffering. (Judges 2:18)
Judges is one of the most bittersweet books of the Bible in my opinion. Here we have a nation set apart by God to bring Him glory and be the conduit for His presence on Earth throughout the Old Testament. And yet, in spite of this great honor that no other nation shared except for Israel, they continuously abandon the Lord and worship other gods. And in spite of their rebellion, the Lord remains faithful to this people by rescuing them from themselves over and over. Judges shows us, if nothing else, the magnificent gift of God’s long-suffering patience, and I believe we have much to learn from Israel’s hot and cold relationship with God for our lives today. To bring you up to speed on exactly what I mean when I say “hot and cold” I want to share an abridged version of Israel’s history through the book of Judges by a series of verses:
The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight….(Judges 3:7)
But when the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help, the Lord raised up a rescuer to save them. (Judges 3:9)
Once again the Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight…(Judges 3:12)
But when the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help, the Lord again raised up a rescuer to save them (Judges 3:15)
…the Israelites again did evil in the Lord’s sight….Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help.(Judges 4:1,3)
(God sends Deborah and brings Israel victory)
The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight. (Judges 6:1)
Then the Israelites cried out to the Lord for help. (Judges 6:6)
(God sends Gideon and brings Israel victory)
As soon as Gideon died…They forgot the Lord their God, who had rescued them from all their enemies surrounding them. (Judges 8:33-34)
Again the Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight. (Judges 10:6)
Finally, they cried out to the Lord for help…(Judges 10:10)
Then the Israelites put aside their foreign gods and served the Lord. And he was grieved by their misery. (Judges 10:16)
Again the Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord handed them over to the Philistines, who oppressed them for forty years. (Judges 13:1)
(God sends Samson and the rest of Judges follows his story and the aftermath of his reign as a judge, as well as what became of Israel).
At the end of Judges, the final verse states “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” How many times did we read the same verses showing Israel abandoning God, crying out for help, God rescuing them, and then Israel yet again abandoning God? Even at the end of so many years of this pattern, Israel still concludes this section of history by “doing whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” But much like the story of Jonah, I believe we have far more to learn from God’s response than we do the human character we are reading about. God did not withhold His anger from Israel, but neither did He withhold His faithfulness to rescue them. What a beautiful picture this is of what was to come when God sent His son Jesus to be the final rescuer for us all, in spite of thousands of years of rebellion, in spite of that final verse that says Israel still chose themselves over God. Judges teaches us that where the love of God is, there is no action that can stop this love when we earnestly cry out to Him. He has endless compassion for His children, and He has a plan for our rescue at every moment of our lives. I don’t know what you are facing today, and I don’t know what mess you may have made of your situation – but I do know that whatever it is God has a plan to rescue you from it. When you cry out to God, there may be repercussions for having abandoned Him, but He will always return to you as you return to Him. Today I am grateful that there is no final hammer from our heavenly Father, that in the end we will have a victory in the form of eternal presence with Him should we accept it.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
Daily Directional: 5.20.20
Written by: Kaleigh Adams
If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. (James 3:13-17)
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5)
We are constantly being bombarded with information. The internet age has brought the sums of man’s knowledge (and opinions!) to our fingertips, and it does not take long for that amount of input to wear a person out! How can anyone discern what is right? How can anyone know where to find truth, who to believe, or how to behave?
This verse from James gives us a quick litmus test that we can use to judge our mindset. James gives a method for determining whether or not we are thinking correctly according to God’s standards. Our first test is humility: are we living in humility? If our hearts are filled with bitterness, selfishness, or jealousy, then we can be sure that our supposed “wisdom” does not line up with God’s heart.
Next we are given a checklist: is our wisdom pure? What about peace loving? Gentle? Willing to yield to others? Do we show favoritism; treating some with love and others with contempt? Are we merciful and quick to forgive? If our opinions or our worldview fails this test, that’s a sign that we need to return to God humbly in prayer and ask for a reset. James 1:5 promises us that God gives wisdom generously, and that He pours is out freely on anyone who asks for it in sincerity and humility.
As believers, we have direct access to the storehouses of God’s perfect wisdom. We don’t have to live in confusion, fear, or uncertainty: we can go to the source of knowledge and ask God to give us a mindset that matches His, to give us wisdom that lines up with what is true.
God Himself instructs us with humility, gentleness, and mercy; and He has asked us to deal with each other in the same way.
Daily Directional: 5.19.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
“Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” Psalm 34:8
Taste and See
This verse jumped out at me last week, maybe because of how much I love food, especially good food (although that’s not all this verse is talking about, I’ll get to that in a second). My mind wandered, as I read it, to the goodness of God regarding good food. Have you ever thought about how wonderful God is to have made things taste good? He could have made a world where our nutrients came from a mush like substance with no flavor (think the Matrix), but he didn’t. He gave us sweet strawberries, savory wheat, salt (which is a flavor but also is used to bring out other flavors better!), and then gave us the ability to take his creation and make yummy things like sourdough bread, creamy vanilla ice cream, colorful salads, rich chocolate, etc. Ok, now I’m hungry. We can find God’s goodness in the blessing of all the different tastes in the world and be grateful for that.
However, this verse is talking about so much more than tasting food. Let’s look at the second part of this verse first. “Blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” The word blessed here is the word ‘esher’ in Hebrew and can be translated as an interjection, “How happy!” The words “take refuge” can also be translated “trust in” or “hope in.” We are told by David, speaking from his personal experiences with God, that the person who trusts in God is blessed, is happy! This whole verse is an affirmation and praise of God’s goodness in David’s life, and an encouragement for us to put our hope in God and find his goodness in our lives.
Let’s look at the first part of the verse now. On Sunday night we heard John Petty talk to us about the attributes of God. Knowing them is important, but experiencing them is the most important. Having a relationship with God where we spend time with him enough to experience the attributes of his character, like his faithfulness, as John used for his example, is what we are invited to do. This is exactly what David is encouraging us to do. David is proclaiming an attribute of God, his goodness, but he’s not merely saying have a head knowledge that God is good or think about God’s goodness. He says TASTE it and SEE it.
The word “taste” here is the Hebrew word ‘ta`am’ which can be translated “perceive it”. This isn’t a quick bite of some broccoli your mom made you eat, this is a savoring, enjoying, flavor finding, taste. Do you look for God’s goodness in your life, do you savor it when you find it? The word “see” can also be translated to perceive, think deeply about, learn about, gaze at, to look upon with joy. Again, just like John encouraged us to do, these words encourage us to experience God’s goodness; to go deeper than head knowledge that God is good, but to savor, gaze at, look with joy, experience the goodness of God.
Have you ever had food that tasted so good you remember it for a long time? It probably wasn’t a meal that you quickly ate over your sink before taking your kids to soccer practice, or fast food drive through on your way to work. You probably took time to experience and taste the food, enjoy it, and that memory has stayed with you. Just like that when we realize God’s goodness in our lives, we need to take the time to experience it, enjoy it, so that later we can remember it. What ways do you see God’s goodness in your life, and how can you take time to taste and see it today?
Daily Directional: 5.18.20
Written by: Kimberly Rockness
I Corinthians 13:1-7, 13
“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. These three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love.”
The unfortunate thing about being IN culture is that it’s difficult to recognize ways of thinking and behaving that don’t please God. Take, for example, the Israelites. It may be baffling to us to try to understand why they kept going back to worship lifeless idols made of metal, stone and wood when they were witness to the incredible miracles of the living God. The simplified answer is that they wanted to fit in with the cultures around them. It was considered normal in their day and they had a difficult time giving up something that was so common around them.
When something is the “norm” around us we tend to be more accepting of it regardless of what God tells us in His Word. This can become an area of confusion to us – where we feel things may be a bit gray or unclear. But as believers in Jesus Christ we need to hold all thinking up to the plumb line of Scripture. Where our thinking falls out of line with the teaching of Scripture, it is up to us to realign with Scripture, not up to Scripture to realign with our faulty thinking patterns – even if those thinking patterns line up with what our culture accepts, embraces, and claims to be true. (Col 2:8)
In today’s culture there is an extraordinary emphasis on self. It is encouraged and often applauded to put self first. We see it all the time in advertising, in social media, even in the first letter that happens to be at the beginning of many of our phones and tablets! The Bible tells us that we are primarily selfish beings. I see this truth confirmed in my own daily battle against selfishness. (Phil. 2:21, James 4:1-3)
Contrary to socially acceptable forms of selfishness, the Bible tells us we are to model Christ, who laid down His life in the ultimate act of selflessness when He offered Himself up as a sacrifice so that we could be made right with God. The remedy for our natural tendency toward being selfish is first and foremost to submit ourselves to a loving God who desires to fill us with His love so that we might allow it to flow out of us. In accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit who promises to empower us to live obediently to God. He enables us to focus on the things that God tells us should be our focus – loving Him and loving others. To keep ourselves in line with this practically, it is helpful to look at God’s definition of love – patient, kind, not jealous, not boastful, not proud, not rude, not demanding of its own way, not irritable, doesn’t keep a record of wrongs, doesn’t rejoice at injustice, rejoices when the truth wins out, doesn’t give up, doesn’t lose faith, is always hopeful, endures through every circumstance. It has been suggested to insert your own name in front of each part of this definition to see if you are indeed being loving. ( _________ is patient, ___________ is kind, etc.) Maybe you, like me, are greatly humbled and convicted at how far you have to go to be truly loving as God defines it. However, we should also be encouraged as this is how God loves each one of us! He promises to work in and through us to love others as we daily submit our lives to Him. Let us make living a life of love our ultimate goal as we follow the example of Christ, who loves us perfectly and selflessly laid down His life for us so that we could truly live and love.
“Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” Ephesians 5:2
Daily Directional: 5.16.20
Written by: Katie Rose Ritchie
6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. 7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
1 Peter 5:6-7
Worries and cares tend to be something we want to act on. We listen to music, or talk to a friend, or go for a drive, just to avoid and/or work through the things that are weighing us down. It often feels so much more productive to take things into our own hands, to really do something with our anxieties – but all we’re really doing is ignoring them.
This passage doesn’t take the time to get into the circumstances of these particular worries and cares – because all of our circumstances are different, right? We’re worried about our jobs, or our families, or our finances, or our emotions, or our likability, or…..you fill in the blank. It doesn’t matter what I list, your particular circumstances are ever so slightly different from anything I could write, and I probably couldn’t ever completely understand what you’re going through.
But this passage is not about our circumstances – it’s about our reaction to them. “Give your worries and cares to God”, it says. Some translations even say to “THROW” your worries and cares upon God. If we’re looking for something productive to do, what’s better than throwing our worries and cares? Tossing them out of our house and into God’s, where He can truly deal with them?
Today, we have the choice to let our worries and cares weigh us down, or to give them to God. Because frankly, they exist. We have worries. We have cares. That’s not going to change. But we get to decide whether they dictate our lives or strengthen our faith. And before this decision (as we see in verse 6) comes humility – believing that God is bigger than us and bigger than our problems, that He has the power to lift us up, and that He can handle whatever worries and cares we throw at Him.
Daily Directional: 5.15.20
Every now and then, we like to take a day to focus solely on a passage from the Bible – while outside voices and wise leaders are important, it’s vital that we are able to read, understand, and apply God’s Word for ourselves.
Today, keep these verses on your mind and in your heart as you face whatever obstacles come your way.
“The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.”
Daily Directional: 5.14.20
Written by: Pastor Josh Adams
“When is Enough Enough?”
I’ve heard the word “enough” used a lot lately.
– “I’ve had enough of this quarantine stuff!”
-“I’m not sure I have enough left in the tank to make it”
We use this word [enough] in connotation with our resources, our emotions, our intellect and even our resolve. And yet the word “enough” seems to have lost its definable characteristic. It may be that what is “enough” for you isn’t quite “enough” for me, and vice versa.
This may be because our situations are different or because we humans are all different in small ways. But it may also be that when it comes to the earthly, tangible things (money, gas, possessions) or the things in our own control (resolve, anger, our attention) – Enough will never be Enough.
The Bible says this: “Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth—except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers!” Ecclesiastes 5:10-11
These verses seem to mock us. To remind us that BOTH our goals and our limitations here on earth amount to nothing in the light of eternity.
This can be encouraging or defeating to you depending on how you want to look at it. Your “good enough” will never be good enough, not in comparison to a perfect and righteous God. BUT… and here’s where you need to lean in… your bad is never bad enough to keep that same God from loving you.
We all have a chance to draw close and hide under the protection of an Almighty Father. Not because we have enough resolve deep down, or because we earned enough credits along the way. But because Christ was and is enough of a sacrifice to pay for us in full.
Hang on to that today. Let that be your source of hope and strength. You don’t HAVE TO be enough…JESUS ALREADY WAS!
“For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the Lord sends rain and the crops grow again!” So she did as Elijah said, and she and Elijah and her family continued to eat for many days. There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the Lord had promised through Elijah.”1 Kings 17:14-16
Daily Directional: 5.13.20
Written by: Mike Thompson
Matthew 8: 23-27
23When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. 24And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. 25And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!’ 26He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. 27The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”
Calm in the Middle of the Storm
Have you ever been through a hurricane? A tornado? Have you seen a storm viciously whirling around, ripping up everything in its path? Recently some of us experienced a tornado this past summer. We saw how devastating even a fairly small one was when it ripped through Cape Cod. Storms wreak havoc in our community, our homes, our lives and can break us down as we gaze at the extensive aftermath. Has there been a time in your life full of unseen blows during the middle of pain, loss, betrayal, or defeat? It is extremely easy to lose hope, become anxious, become depressed, and ultimately give up on everything. This is what Satan wants from us, he wants to deplete everything we have so we give up on our Father! (Maybe you remember the series “Not Today, Satan” that Pastor Josh preached a few months ago.)
You see the funny thing about the eye of any storm, is that it is the most peaceful part of the storm. Can you imagine in all the high wind, the pressure and the fierceness of the storm that the centermost part is calm and peaceful? If you had asked me five years ago, I had a hard time believing that, but now I do know that the middle of a storm is the calmest. The strong surface winds that converge towards the center… never actually reach it. This is the exact place to seek out and know we will find God there. God provides calm in the middle of the raging storms of life! At the storm’s peak, our best choice is to sit with God, right in the center, waiting it out. Isn’t this true when we allow God to be our number one, we can remain calm and trust that he has a plan and will be the Shepherd?
I hope, if you are feeling like you are in a storm of your own, a turmoil of uncertainty, you will look for the eye of the storm where you can sit quietly. Letting the outside world, the wind, the pressure carry on while you find your peace with God in the center. I hope as you do this you will be, and feel, calm during the mighty storms.
With Him it is peace!
Daily Directional: 5.12.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
A Prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the Lord.
Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry come to you!
Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress!
Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call!
For my days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace.
My heart is struck down like grass and has withered; I forget to eat my bread.
Because of my loud groaning my bones cling to my flesh.
I am like a desert owl of the wilderness, like an owl of the waste places;
I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.
All the day my enemies taunt me; those who deride me use my name for a curse.
For I eat ashes like bread and mingle tears with my drink,
because of your indignation and anger; for you have taken me up and thrown me down.
My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass.
But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever; you are remembered throughout all generations.
The description given before this psalm reads, “A Prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the Lord,” and haven’t we all felt faint and afflicted, if not now, then at some point in our lives.
This is a prayer of lament. Lament is kind of an old school word that we don’t hear in our modern language very much anymore, but it is very prevalent in the Bible and important for us to understand and practice. The definition of Lament is “a passionate expression of grief or sorrow,” but if we look at examples in the Bible it is more than just an expression of sorrow, and definitely more than just complaining or venting. To lament is to tell God your pain with a purpose; a purpose to trust God with it. It is naming/voicing your pain and deep emotions to God with whom you believe, and trust, can do something about it.
Do you struggle being so bold with God? Look at some of the language the psalmist David uses in his laments to God.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest”
My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen on me.
Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me.
I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.
I would flee far away and stay in the desert;
I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.”
David is very bold and honest about how he feels and what he desires from God—where are you God, if I had wings I would fly away from here, I don’t want to be here, rescue me—and that’s ok, because he is taking his laments to a big God who promises mercy and grace when we need it most.
“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16
Another important part of lamenting, found in the Psalms, is to speak truth about God and reorient yourself to that truth. Using statements of trust like, Psalm 13:5, “but I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation,” or in Psalm 28:7, “the Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me,” will help to reorient your heart back to God’s truth.
Practice lamenting, true lamenting to God. Don’t keep your sorrow, grief, fear, anger inside and don’t vent or complain to your family or friends, lament to God. Be bold and honest with him about your pain and feelings, and trust that he is the only one that can comfort you, the only one who can rescue you, the one who promises mercy and grace to help you. And remind yourself of those truths too, just like we see in the Psalms.
Daily Directional: 5.11.20
Written by: Kaleigh Adams
“Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body.”
1 Corinthians 6:19- 20
There are a lot of political conversations surrounding personal autonomy, and I promise you I’m not going to get into any of those. But what I will offer is this scripture, which reminds us that as believers, our bodies and our lives don’t really belong to us.
That’s a pretty aggressive statement so I’ll pause to let it sink in.
As Americans, or even just as citizens of the modern world, we are conditioned to believe that our highest purpose is to pursue our own pleasure. The constitution of the United States guarantees us the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; but the awkward truth is that the Bible guarantees us no such thing.
I’m not at all suggesting that it is wrong to enjoy the freedoms that many men and women have died to preserve. But what we see clearly in scripture is that if we are Christ followers, our own happiness cannot be our first pursuit.
Our bodies, and our lives, exist to serve God and those around us. When our duty to this call comes up against our personal preferences, it is clear which we are supposed to choose.
Christ laid down his life and His rights to serve those around Him, and in His name we are asked to do the same.
Daily Directional: 5.9.20
Written by: John Petty
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
What is your “and”? I remember some years back how this verse stuck out to me. It’s a great passage and probably familiar to many of you. However; this one word “and” really drew my attention that day. Perhaps it is obvious to most, but for me the concept of there being other things besides sin which could hinder my walk with God was noteworthy. When we begin our walk with God the Spirit begins to show us things in our lives that are not in line with God’s best for us. He reveals them to us, but we must make the hard choice to leave the patterns we have learned on our own. If we choose to cooperate, we then begin to adopt new ways, more specifically His ways. In the instances where we are doing (or not doing) things that are in direct conflict with Scripture its usually pretty clear. It is still difficult to deny myself what I want, or change the way I live, but if it is a clear directive (sin) all that is left is the battle of wills between me and God. Which coincidentally He will always win.
There is a lot more I could write about struggling with sin (I am kind of an expert in this category), but as I mentioned, I would like us to camp on this word “and”. Are there things in our lives that are not sinful, yet are somehow hindering us from cooperating with God’s Spirit? What is the writer driving at? In the previous chapter we read through a great list of men and women that are included in what some have called the “hall of fame” of faith. We are given a recap about who they were and the impact they had. We are reminded how their obedience to God, and their willingness to trust His leadership preserved them. They were able to be used by God in mighty ways because they did not try and hold onto what they had, what they knew, or who they were. They were certainly not perfect sinless humans, but they obeyed the call. Hebrews teaches us that these greats are all around us, watching us, I imagine even cheering for us. The writer then moves into this directive to throw off sin “and” everything that is hindering us. I believe what the writer is driving at is less about things sinful or not, and more about an attitude towards our faith. Are we doing the bare minimum as we see it? Or are we with reckless abandonment seeking after a life of faith. More to the point, are we wholly trusting in Jesus for our every breath, our personal fulfillment, our validation, or have we somehow compartmentalized our faith?
The call is to let go of everything, go all in. It reflects a complete surrendering of our will in pursuit of His. We are in this proverbial arena called life, surrounded by the faithful of the past. They are watching us, cheering us on in our daily battles. Consider the words of the Hymn writer below. Let them resonate in your heart and mind as you go about doing battle today.
All to Jesus I surrender, All to Him I freely give
I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence daily live
Daily Directional: 5.8.20
Written by: Kaleigh Adams
The Lord will work out his plans for my life—
for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.
Don’t abandon me, for you made me.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
There is a lot of emphasis in our current culture on self-promotion and self-improvement. The desire to reach your potential is admirable, and in some ways, Biblical (to whom much is given, much is required, after all!) In that striving, however, sometimes we begin to sink into an attempt to control. We begin to believe that without our careful machinations, our life’s purpose will pass us by, unfulfilled.
This is a terrifying thought, this idea of “what might have been”. It causes us to live in fear, wondering if we are maximizing our time well enough, presenting ourselves well enough, accomplishing enough. Through Christ, we have a very different model: one of trust. The LORD will work out His plans for my life—it is God who works through us to accomplish the purpose of our lives, not our own anxiety, not our own control.
When we surrender control of our lives over to Christ, we also inherit a place in His divine plan. The guarantee of faith in Christ is that if you spend your life following Him and His purposes, you will not waste your life. God made you, and in Him you can trust that He will work out His beautiful, meaningful, richly satisfying plans for your future. The only thing you have to do is trust Him, and rest in His promises. This will require surrender, sacrifice, and occasionally pain—but it will never require fear. You can live boldly in the confidence that your life has meaning when you submit to the plan that the God who created you has designed.
Daily Directional: 5.7.20
While it’s always enlightening and encouraging to hear insights from some of our leaders at Harbor, this morning we’d like to encourage you to simply meditate on a verse from the Bible. Read it through multiple times, say it out loud to yourself, write it down and put it somewhere you’ll see it throughout the day – whatever you can do to keep this message on your mind and in your heart.
These are Jesus’ words, spoken to His disciples shortly before giving His life on the cross.
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 NLT
Daily Directional: 5.6.20
Written by: Kristen Lambrich
“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:6-7
This passage is such a fitting reminder as many of us are experiencing trials in ways we did not expect to. Many of us are facing loneliness, the drag of monotony, financial struggles, tension with family, sickness, fear for the future, a severe absence of community support systems, and so much more. Yet, Peter teaches us that endurance through trials will produce faith. I have seen that the people who have the deepest faith have undergone some of the worst trials in life and have learned that it is far more important to focus on how God gets them through the trials rather than focusing on why the trials happened in the first place. It feels trite to smooth over these hard times by thinking about how much faith we will have after, but I love that Peter reminds us that the value of faith is worth more than gold. When we all stand before Jesus in the end, two moments occur. The first is what we did with what Jesus offered us. Did we accept his free and precious gift of salvation and payment for our sins? And if the answer is yes, the second moment is when we get to offer him back one thing from our lives: our faith. When I think about this, I no longer roll my eyes at the idea that the difficult things I am facing now being opportunities to grow my faith (which again feels trite when I often can only see how bad things are), instead I am inspired to seek out God through my hardship so that the faith I can give to him on the last day will be as refined as it can be and more precious than gold.
A friend once shared with me a children’s storybook where the main character continues to face different obstacles as they make their way on a journey. Each time, whether it was a storm or a pile of mud they said “you can’t go under it, you can’t go around it, you have to go through it.” That is where we find ourselves now. Much of our lives have been temporarily altered and we are facing one big mud pile of a pandemic…we can’t go under it, we can’t go around it, we must go through it. So as we all go through this together, let’s remember the “wonderful joy ahead” and come out with faith greater than gold.
Daily Directional: 5.5.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” Philippians 4:4-9
I heard a sermon yesterday on anxiety, and in it the Pastor referenced Max Lucado’s book “Anxious for Nothing.” In an interview with Max Lucado he describes the book, which is based on the passage above, Philippians 4, as a tool for us to know how to respond to anxiety in our lives. I don’t know about you, but I appreciate a good acronym and Lucado breaks down the passage in Philippians into an easy to remember acronym for how to react when we are feeling anxious, and it spells CALM.
C – Celebrate God, “Rejoice in the Lord always” (verse 4). Remember the faithfulness of God, what he has already done in your life, his grace and mercy, the beauty around you, the goodness and truth you see, even in the midst of your struggles.
A – Ask God for Help, “By prayer and petition…present your request to God” (verse 6). Tell God what you need, talk with God about it.
L – Leaving the problem with him, “with thanksgiving” (verse 6). There are many other scriptures that tell us to take our burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of it (1 Peter 1:7, Psalm 55:22, Matthew 11:28). When we truly believe this is true and trust in his power, we can be thankful for his work and his peace.
M – Meditating on good things, “whatever is true…think about such things” (verse 6). The end to this passage in Philippians is similar to the beginning. Think about what God has done, his truth, the beauty and goodness around you, think about fun things and things that bring you joy. Bring your mind back to God’s truth.
Lucado teaches us too, that the words “be anxious for nothing” do not mean “never feel anxious.” The Greek verb translates better “do not allow yourself to be perpetually anxious,” don’t get stuck in anxiety. So, when you feel yourself continually worrying or slipping into a pit of anxiety, use this tool, CALM, to encourage and challenge your heart and mind to take steps to fight it. Write it on the mirror in your bathroom or on a sticky note and put it somewhere to remind yourself and invite the “peace that passes all understanding to guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Daily Directional: 5.4.20
Written by: Katie Rose Ritchie
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief.
Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. Our ancestors trusted in you, and you rescued them. They cried out to you and were saved. They trusted in you and were never disgraced.
Verses 1 and 2 of this psalm tell us a story that, if we’re honest, we’re probably pretty familiar with. We don’t talk about it much, but I’m willing to bet that everyone reading this directional today has experienced a time in their life when they cried out to God and felt….nothing. I’ve been there, David (the author of this psalm) was there many times, and you or someone you love may be there right this second.
It is incredibly comforting to know that even the heroes of the Bible who God used to do amazing things had moments when they felt entirely alone. But we see a few crucial points in this psalm that point to why David, even with his moments of feeling distant from God, remains a hero of faith even to this day.
First, we see that David did not give up on God just because he felt abandoned by him. It seems that David knew what we often forget – God is not a feeling. God’s love for us is not contingent on our always being able to recognize it, and God does not stop working just because we can’t see what He’s doing. David felt alone, abandoned, and like God was far away – but every day and every night he continued to call out, because his trust was in GOD, the Creator of the universe, not a god who existed simply to make him feel good.
Second, when David could not feel the presence of God in his life, he chose to look back on all God had done in the lives of his ancestors. The way forward was unclear, but David used the resources around him to remind himself of who God was. In modern times, we have even more resources at our disposal. We have the entire Bible, full of examples of God’s faithfulness, along with the technology to reach out to trusted friends/mentors at any given moment who can provide us with personal stories of God showing up in their lives.
In all of this, more than anything, I hope we find comfort. God had not abandoned David, and God has not abandoned you. He is still holy, still on His throne, and still in the business of saving all who call out to him. So keep calling.
Matthew 7:7-8 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Daily Directional: 5.2.20
Written by: Kimberly Rockness
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
Psalm 27:14 (AMP)
“Wait for and confidently expect the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord.”
“So the Lord must wait for you to come to Him so He can show you His love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for His help.”
I can’t think of a time when I wasn’t waiting for something – something to happen, something to arrive, something to get done. And then there is the waiting in traffic, waiting in line, waiting to be called at the RMV… lots and lots of waiting. Lately, there’s been even more waiting – waiting in line outside of the store, waiting for that deposit to be made, waiting for answers, waiting for life to return to normal… I don’t know about you but I do not feel my strength renewed when I wait. In fact, waiting often does just the opposite – it saps my strength! Isn’t it surprising that such a passive act can be so utterly exhausting?
So why is it that Isaiah tells us that waiting on God actually renews our strength? We find the answer if we examine the root of this word “wait”. The original Hebrew word means “to bind together by twisting – as in a rope”. The cords of a rope are wound so tightly around each other that something of strength, something that can be trusted and depended on is produced. As we draw so close to Him that we are “intertwined” with Him, we are promised a strength that is not our own that enables us to hold fast no matter the pressure exerted upon us.
“Waiting on the Lord” is anything but inactive, in fact it is proactive! It is not a sitting by the wayside, wringing our hands, wishing and wondering if and when God will act on our behalf. As we “bind together” with the Lord and remain close with Him, He grants us the strength we need to do extraordinary things like soar high on wings like eagles and run and walk without growing tired and faint. Of course, this is a poetic picture which teaches us that the kind of strength we need on a daily basis to get through all the things that sap our strength and make us grow tired and weary, only comes as a result of being intentional in nurturing our relationship with the Lord. As we take deliberate actions of spending time drawing close to the Lord, we can rest confidently in hopeful expectation and anticipation that our loving, faithful, and compassionate God longs to help us when we are tired and weary. He promises to renew our strength if we would just come.
“In place of our exhaustion and spiritual fatigue, He will give us rest. All He asks is that we come to Him… that we spend awhile thinking about Him, meditating on Him, talking to Him, listening in silence, occupying ourselves with Him – totally and thoroughly lost in the hiding place of His presence.”
Daily Directional: 5.1.20
Written by: John Petty
Psalms 107:4-9 NIV
Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle. They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away. Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
This passage is another great reminder of God’s faithfulness to his people. As I’ve mentioned before, I believe we all need constant reminders of God’s persistent, and consistent care for us. This is true as the challenges in our lives can push us to doubt.
However, today I would like to draw our attention specifically to vs 8. Here the Psalmist is encouraging the people to now “give thanks” to the Lord. This doesn’t seem like an unreasonable request when you consider the contrast between the two circumstances described here. Why then would the Psalmist have to encourage the people to be thankful? Perhaps it is because their hearts were much like my own. My heart does not default to thankfulness. In fact, even if you give me $20, my heart would be tempted to complain if the line was too long to get it. Conversely, I have seen my heart attitude completely transformed simply by choosing to focus on what God has done for me even if I might have to pay $20.
Here in this passage we read how God gave a home to a wandering people. We know from the rest of the Bible that we too once wandered. We were spiritually homeless in a world which could not satisfy. God called us out, gave us a home, a purpose, and a promise that He will continually satisfy our soul through his Spirit. I know it may not be our default setting but reminding ourselves to be thankful is important. When we choose to look at Jesus for who He is and what He’s done for us instead of our circumstances, it orientates our hearts properly. This refocusing will not only have a transforming power which benefits our own mental state, it might even help us become more bearable to those around us.
God is not deficient, nor does He need our affection. However, when our hearts are rightly orientated, and full of gratitude toward Him, we are poised to do His will. In this state of gratitude, we best reflect His love to other wandering souls. Perhaps you are like me and need to be reminded today to be thankful. Perhaps you too need a reminder to be on guard against a complaining spirit, full of pride. Let’s work together today to refocus our hearts on the new homes God gave us through Christ. Let’s focus on all we are now able to participate in, and our future inheritance, instead of all we think we are lacking.
A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves.
Henry Ward Beecher
Daily Directional: 4.30.20
Written by: Kristen Lambrich
“What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”
This morning, I’m sharing a line from an old hymn rather than a Bible verse to start. It isn’t motivating to talk about, but we all sin and know the effects of it when we do. One of the worst consequences of sin is shame. I can’t think of anything else we experience in this life so encompassing and demoralizing as shame. When singing this hymn it seems easy to me to wrap my mind around the idea of Jesus taking away the wrong things I’ve done…but the idea of Jesus taking away the shame from the wrong things I’ve done seems near impossible. I often replace the words of this song with “What can wash away my shame? Nothing but the blood of Jesus,” just to drill in this idea that I constantly war against in my own mind.
Shame is such a personal thing for us all. It is tied directly to the things we’ve done, but more than that it is tied directly to the embarrassment from them. We all remember being a kid acting up in class, and then the intense feeling of being emotionally cornered when we were called out by our teacher in front of all our peers. It stings. You can almost feel it on your skin the way it crawls all over you for hours after, taunting you over and over again that you have done wrong and that you deserve to be embarrassed/punished/ashamed/harassed – you fill in the blank.
And then Jesus walks into our lives. While on earth, he did all he could to teach us about righteousness and about how to live more like him. He loved the weak and the poor, he turned away from temptation each time it faced him, he kept close to God through each moment of each day. And at the end of his life, knowing fully that we could never live each day perfect as he did, he gave up his perfect life to pay for our sin. For our shame. He became naked, embarrassed, punished, harassed…so that we would not have to face it. All of us know what it feels like to be exposed and ashamed. The greatest gift we were given in Jesus Christ is restoration with God, which brings about one of the sweetest feelings we can experience: complete lack of shame. When we accept the payment for our sins in Jesus, we can receive the full gift of God’s gracious love and lack of condemnation, absence of fear, defeat of all threat of being exposed.
I want to finish with the verses that inspired the lyrics written many years ago that continue to pierce our hearts today about what could possibly wash us clean of our sin and feelings of shame: nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Isaiah 50: 7 But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.
Hebrews 12:2 Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 9:14 How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
1 John 2:28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Daily Directional: 4.29.20
Written by: Kaleigh Adams
“All the streams flow to the sea, yet the sea is never full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. All things are wearisome, more than anyone can say. The eye is not satisfied by seeing or the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.”
“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”
This season of life, for some, has highlighted the monotony inherent in our every day life. As life begins to feel like “Groundhog Day”, the things in life we use to give us a sense of purpose are tested.
Our work, our hobbies, our social circles: it is easy to allow these things to become our measuring stick for satisfaction. But these are streams that flow and never fill us, and when they are removed we are reminded that everything apart from our purpose in Christ is fragile. This world promises us fulfillment, but it can’t deliver.
How many of us believed that if we just had time to work on that project, learn that skill, read that book — that we would be happy? In our isolation (and even in our boredom) we are learning day by day that Jesus is the only one who can deliver on His promise to fulfill. When we put that burden to fulfill on the other things in our life, they turn bitter. Their inability to satisfy us leaves us empty.
When we allow Christ to be our purpose, when we trust Him to give us a satisfying life, then everything else becomes a gift that we can enjoy. Our days (even when they blend together) are full of joy because we know that each day that is given to us can be used for God’s glory.
Daily Directional: 4.28.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
Therefore become imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]; and walk continually in love [that is, value one another—practice empathy and compassion, unselfishly seeking the best for others], just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God [slain for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance. Ephesians 5:1-2 AMP
“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV
Our main scripture today is from Ephesians. There’s so much in this one scripture but let’s just focus on two things today. First, be imitators of God and second, well-beloved or dearly loved children.
In order to become imitators of God we must understand who God is. The verses go on to say, “just as Christ also loved us and gave Himself up for us.” When we understand the love that God demonstrated through his son, we can then begin to imitate that love. Do you know how much God loves you? Do you grasp the mercy and grace he has given you? If you do, imitate that; forgive as you have been forgiven, be patient with others, just as God is patient with you; be generous to those around you, just like God is generous towards you. If you don’t know who God is well enough to imitate him, or you need a refresher (we all do), open your Bible and learn who God is. Read about Jesus’ ministry and the way he treated those around him. If you don’t know where to start, try reading the book of John. The author of John is John, one of Jesus’ disciples, who sometimes refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” He gives a firsthand account of the life and ministry of Jesus. He could literally imitate Jesus, seeing as he spent so much time with him. So, this is a good place to start.
The next part of this scripture calls us (those who are followers of Christ) “dearly loved children.” We know from other scriptures that we are co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), meaning that we are adopted into the family of God and share in the blessing and inheritance with Christ, but this description of how God sees us is very special. The Greek word used for “dearly loved” is agapetos and also can be translated beloved. This same word was used by God when he spoke from heaven after Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. “A voice came from heaven, ‘you are my beloved son; with you I am well pleased’” (Mark 1:11). The same word used to describe the affection God had for Jesus is the same word used to describe his affection for us. We are dearly loved by God.
When you know that you are dearly loved by God, doesn’t that also help with the desire to imitate Him? Just as a well-loved child wants to do everything just like his/her dad or mom, when we understand the depth of God’s love for us it only fuels our love for him and our desire to be just like him. As we get to know him better, we can imitate him as a child would imitate his loving father.
Daily Directional: 4.27.20
Written by: Katie Rose Ritchie
Psalm 56:3 But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.
How many of our problems in life stem from fear?
We become stressed or upset because we fear we won’t be able to pay the bills. We try to control the people we love because we fear they will make wrong choices. We watch something, or drink something, or lie about something, because we’re afraid to face whatever pain is in our lives. We try to figure out our own problems, to get by on our own strength, because we fear that God won’t provide. While our actions may appear to tell a different story, usually the root of our issues is simply that we are afraid.
“But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.”
This is an easy thing to say, but often a difficult thing to do. Sometimes it even feels impractical – sure, we want to trust God, but what does that actually look like in day to day life when we’ve got things to take care of? Let’s go straight to the source:
Proverbs 3:5 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.”
Psalm 46:10 – “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”
Psalm 28:7 – “The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.”
These are just three of three hundred verses that tell us what it means to trust God, and what happens when we do. But if we take these three as a quick guide, we find some very practical ways to actively trust God when fear creeps in and life gets difficult.
- Don’t depend on your own understanding: go to the Bible, get serious about prayer, seek out wise counselors, but do not assume that whatever you think or feel is fact.
- Be still and know: don’t just go talk at God, but pause and listen for what He might have to show you; our instinct in times of trouble is usually to keep ourselves busy and run around trying to fix the problem, but God calls us to take a step back, and in our stillness demonstrate our trust.
- Practice thanksgiving: this doesn’t necessarily require songs as the verse demonstrates, but it does require gratitude; be intentional about taking time to thank God for who He is and all He’s given you! You may not always have exactly what you want, but He always provides just what we need. The more you choose to recognize what God has already done, the easier it becomes to trust in what He will do.
The beauty in these three steps is that there’s absolutely nothing groundbreaking about them. Chances are, I’m not telling you anything you haven’t heard. But take this moment to ask yourself: do I just know that these things are helpful, or do I actually trust that God will use them to relieve my fears? That, I’ve found, is the difference between empty beliefs and a life giving relationship with the Creator.
Daily Directional: 4.25.20
Written by: Pastor Josh Adams
What is it about sheep?
Psalms 95:6-7 “Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, for he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care. If only you would listen to his voice today!”
Psalms 79:13 “Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will thank you forever and ever, praising your greatness from generation to generation.”
Psalms 23:1-4 “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”
The Bible references either sheep or lambs over 500 times. It often compares us to sheep while referring to God as the shepherd we all need. But why sheep? Why couldn’t the Bible call us lions or eagles or honey badgers? Why do we have to be compared to sheep?
Because no other animal depicts us as accurately as sheep.
I was blessed to have a lot of different jobs growing up, but one of the most interesting jobs was my time as a shepherd. I learned a lot, especially about sheep. Sheep are some of the dumbest, most helpless animals on the planet.
Here’s what I know: sheep MUST HAVE A SHEPHERD. If it weren’t for humans, sheep would’ve gone extinct ages ago. Why? Well, besides that fact that they’re dumb, they can’t take care of themselves.
There are three reasons that sheep need a shepherd:
– Sheep NEED PROTECTION. They don’t have large teeth or talons. They have no claws. The lack speed and strength. The don’t even have a natural camouflage. They are easy prey for anything hungry enough to attack them.
-Sheep NEED PROVISIONS. These animals are so dumb, they will consume anything that looks good to them. The just eat and eat and will at times eat things that are poisonous or even not necessarily edible – (I’ve seen them eat tin cans and clothing)
-Sheep NEED A PATH. Because sheep are so dumb and also so willing to chase after any food that looks good to them, they often wander away. They are prone to leaving the flock and getting lost. If they don’t find their way home quickly they run the risk of dying to the elements, starvation, or being eaten by a host of predators.
Now, can you see yourself in this animal?
John 10:27-28 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me.”
Without a shepherd/savior we are so prone to attacks. We are vulnerable to every predator that’s out there. Our adversary, the devil, is described as a hungry lion looking to eat us. When Satan sees a little sheep (aka you) without a shepherd, he licks his chops just knowing how easy a meal we will make.
Without Christ feeding us from his word and through the Holy Spirit, we would starve spiritually. Many people that drift away from their shepherd become so hungry, they unknowingly but eagerly ingest the poisons and lures of this world.
Lastly, without a shepherd, the sheep don’t know which way to go. The man or woman that has put God on the “back burner” of their life, have blinded themselves to the path of righteousness. They neglected the shepherd’s words or directions (The Bible) and without it, they are lost. (Prov. 3:5-6)
So today, as you read this, please take a moment to recognize that you too need a shepherd. That you aren’t as strong as you like to think you are. That you need his provisions- not yours, because left to your own devices you’ll keep consuming the “poisons of this world”. And without a close walk with Jesus, you’re just like that wandering sheep, that prodigal son, that wayward child that has lost their Father and so desperately needs to return home.
Cling to your shepherd, now more than ever!
Daily Directional: 4.24.20
Written by: Katie Rose Ritchie
“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”
Jesus tells us here that this one commandment is the essence of the entire law. That is a big statement! The law and the prophets were all anyone had ever known of God, and here comes Jesus, summing up thousands of years of religious history in a single sentence. The law was full of rules, constrictions, and don’ts. Jesus flips all of that around and fulfills a giant list of don’ts with one simple “do.” “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.”
For me, the problem with implementing what we’ve come to know as “the Golden Rule” is that it’s not passive. I no longer get to call myself faithful for not doing things. Instead Jesus is telling us that our faith is meant to be active. Jesus’ goal for us is not simply to avoid doing wrong – it is to get out there and seek out a full life that is defined by loving God and loving others.
Right now that may be a pretty confusing and exhausting thought. So many of us are just trying to get by – to manage our emotions, finances, relationships, anxieties, etc. and keep our heads above water. But could it also be an exciting thought? A freeing thought? The point of our creation is not just to survive. We were not made to manage. The God who created us and everything we see doesn’t want us to live our lives huddled in a corner, hoping not to screw up. Jesus did not come to Earth and sacrifice Himself to help us scrape by a measly existence – He came to give us a “rich and satisfying life”! (John 10:10) Quick hint: this kind of rich doesn’t have anything to do with money.
And the key to holding onto this selfless, satisfying, Christ-like life? Letting it go. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” (Matthew 16:24)
Daily Directional: 4.23.20
Written by: Kristen Lambrich
David inquired again of God, and God said to him, “You shall not go up after them; circle around behind them in front of the balsam trees. It shall be when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then you shall go out to battle, for God will have gone out before you to strike the army of the Philistines.” 1 Chronicles 14: 14-15
Reading through David’s life in the Old Testament, it always amazes me the great detail we’re given on his relationship with God. I can’t say definitively, but given what we know I would argue that, aside from Jesus, David spoke with God more than anyone we have an account of. I want to focus on how these verses begin: “David inquired again of God…” During this time, David was establishing his reign as King and at this moment had learned the Philistine were marching against his lands. His first response when heard of this was to specifically ask God what to do. God answered and delivered him into victory. Then again, David learns the Philistines have launched another raid and we read these verses where David again asks God specifically what he should do. Both times God gives him specific instructions, David obeys, and God leads him to victory. In Psalms we read through the emotions David faces over the course of his life, and I’m continuously struck by how honest David is with God and how ready he was to seek after Him. These events in Chronicles predate David’s rebellions as King, and his affair with Bathsheba. Shortly after seeing such a poignant display of his closeness with God we see how far away from God he fell. Of all the losses David suffered in his life, of all the laments in Psalm from battles waged, the most anguished we find David are the times in his life when he personally turned away from his relationship with God. No wonder this is the case when David grew up so much of his life in such close communication with God, to the point where he asked him both if he should make an attack and how he should make an attack when the Philistine approached. And God answered.
We can learn a lot in these few verses, and from looking at David’s life in general. How different would our lives look if we had David’s kind of prayer life? How many more answers would we have to questions we are constantly plagued with? How much more would we know the next right thing to do? I think if David could come back today and speak to us in our times, I don’t think he would give us amazing advice on how to be a good king. I don’t think he would remind us how important it is to do the right thing always. I think he would tell us how desperate we all are for communication with God. He’d remind us how imperative it is to talk to Him through every decision we make, and to listen as He guides us. David certainly knew the laws of Moses and the will of God spoken through his ancestors as we know now…but David knew so much more about what God was asking him to do personally each and every day. And not by some great mysterious revelation! He just simply talked with God. The same access you and I have today, David had back then and he used it. I’m reminded of a line from one of my favorite songs: “Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.” Whatever it is you’re facing today or for all the days to come, remember how great a lifeline prayer is. Remember we have a God who loves to speak to us and through us whenever we let our heart openly commune with Him.
Daily Directional: 4.22.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
A few weeks back John Petty encouraged us in a daily directional to seek out God’s promises, to write them down, memorize them, send them to a friend, to promote God’s truth in this time of uncertainty. So today I thought I’d just share some promises from God that have been on my heart.
“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so, through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 1:20
This is a promise that all of God’s promises are fulfilled in Christ. That when we know Jesus as our personal savior, we have access to all God’s promises.
“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8
Pastor Josh shared this one on Sunday. So simple and so reassuring. If we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. What a comforting promise. We are never alone. But also, that God will never force a relationship with Him, He is waiting for us to turn to Him.
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:1,4
I need this one today, as this time of self-distance and quarantine drags on, it can seem overwhelming. But God promises that there is a season for everything, that this will not last forever. We will dance again.
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26
God promises to take care of us. Do what this verse says and “look at the birds” and then remember that God promises to take care of us, that we are more valuable than the birds who He takes care of.
“Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for Him.” Lamentations 3:22-24
This is a good one! The Lord’s great love will keep us from being consumed by the troubles we face. His mercies, His compassion, is new every morning, He gives us what we need to face the day. He is faithful!
There’s nothing better, nothing I could say to encourage you more, than the truth from the Bible. God’s promises are hope builders. Jeremiah, who wrote the last promise I shared from Lamentations, wrote directly before the promise, “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope.” Jeremiah is remembering the hard times he is going through, but he’s not staying there, he is reminding himself of God’s promises and it brings him hope. I pray that these promises have brought you some hope today. Now go find some more, memorize them, call them to your mind, and share them with others. Let’s build some hope.
Daily Directional: 4.21.20
Written by: Kimberly Rockness
15 That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.”16 But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.”17 “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered.18 “Bring them here,” he said. 19 Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people.20 They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. 21 About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!
At Harbor Church we want to be known for what we give not what we take. There are times in life (Coronavirus or not) where we find ourselves feeling we have little to give – little time, little finances, little ability. During this time when our interactions are greatly limited, it may appear that there is not much we can do individually to make any kind of significant impact. And yet, we serve a God who is known for doing much with little and who only asks that we be willing to give what we do have.
In the parable of the feeding of the 5000 Jesus tells his disciples to feed the hungry crowd. Incredulous, they tell him what they do have to emphasize how little they have to work with – only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. In human terms that “only” should be there – in reality that wasn’t enough. However, in their midst was the One who created reality, made the laws of reality and could override them whenever He willed. Jesus was well aware of their reality, He wanted them to take whatever they had to offer and watch what He could do with it.
Maybe you, like me, have been feeling a bit helpless to do much during this time where we have so many limitations. Maybe you’ve been tempted to think that the “real work” of helping others will have to wait until things get back to “normal”. However, the amazing this is that God is always at work around us no matter what is going on around us. He invites us to join Him in His work! We get to join Him if we are willing! How cool is that? He doesn’t need us to do anything and yet He lets us help. Much like the little one who “helps” in the kitchen or “helps” with the chores, our loving Father lets us be a part of the amazing things He has in store for us all!
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”
I Corinthians 2:9
Will you ask God what it is that He wants you to join Him in doing – right now – not when “this” is all over? Perhaps we can take inspiration from this story and do something during this time that at the outset seems small. I wonder what Jesus could do if we each committed to taking 5 minutes a day and reaching out in some way to 2 different people each day? That 5 minutes could be the time spent to pray and ask God who He wants you to reach out to and what He wants you to do or it could simply be the 5 minutes it takes you to send someone a text to let them know you are thinking of them and praying for them. Scripture tells us to encourage one another daily and I can think of no better time than now to do so. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”I Thessalonians 5:11
I wonder what Jesus will do if we take 5 for 2… I have a sneaking suspicion it will involve multiplication!
Daily Directional: 4.20.20
Written by: John Petty
24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
Are you a hoarder? Most of us have seen shows on TV of these extreme cases of hoarding. We watch and discover that there are people who hold on to, and cling to literally everything that comes into their midst. Even actual garbage. Just a heads up, they usually have a cat, or two, so loving cats may be an early warning sign. Seriously, when you see their dwelling space you think, how in the world did it get this way? Ironically, even when the hoarders describe their own circumstances many of them ask that same question. I am not going to try and unpack the psychological reasons why people may hoard things, or why people love cats for that matter. Mostly because I have no idea. However, I would like to take a minute and ask what kind of thoughts and ideas we might be hoarding in our mental dwelling space.
We live in a world where we are bombarded with limitless ideas, information, and perspectives (or teachings) on our life. Furthermore, our culture fully embraces this. In fact, there are entire platforms now that are devoted solely to information gathering and sharing. Overall, I think this is a positive thing for humanity. Easy access to information, and an array of perspectives will offer us all the best chance at success. However, I do see one trap. If we are not careful, we can become “hoarders” of all these various thoughts and ideas. A real and present danger exists if we don’t clean out our thought life occasionally (2 Cor 10:5). In other words, regularly asking ourselves what kind of teachings and ideas am I storing up there? Trust me, I know what I am asking. My brain is a scary place too. Like many of the hoarders I mentioned earlier, I’m literally afraid to even go up there. Not to mention actually rooting around for stuff. Nevertheless, I believe this is just as essential, if not more, than cleaning our literal houses.
There are several places in the Bible where false teaching is addressed. Mostly, because God knows these lies, or half-truths, will do harm to His people and dilute His message. In many of the epistles, including this one from Jude, the authors literally write “I am reminding you of these things (God’s promises), even though you already know”. Why would this be necessary? I’m so glad you asked. I believe it’s because even though the church was initially taught the actual truth, and many even fully believed, they were constantly being presented with contradictory messages from their culture. They needed constant reminding to reject these falsehoods and hold on to the original truths. In this way, we are no different than the early church. If anything, we have even more contradictory teachings about who we are and who God is than they did. I would also venture a guess that they are coming towards us at a much more furious rate of speed. My hope is that before an intervention is needed requiring a whole dumpster, I will start purging all the thoughts and ideas I may be hoarding that don’t line up with the true teachings of Scripture.
Spring is a great time to clean. Let’s work together to go up to our scary attic spaces and clear out some clutter. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. We are loved. The creator of the universe cares for us. He wants a relationship with us. He has a plan for us. He promises to keep us and watch over us. While you may already know all this, perhaps it’s hard to realize because the truth is buried under some clutter.
Daily Directional: 4.18.20
Written by: Pastor Josh Adams
2 Kings 5:1-3
1 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy. 2 Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”
If you read those verses right, you’ll notice something that seems to make no sense at all: a slave girl who saves her captor’s life. Why? After all, he invaded her country, burned down her house, murdered her family, and took her away to be a slave.
If we’re honest, we would most likely be filled with either rage or despair. Yet, we see this servant girl show genuine love and concern. In one verse we see her not only show forgiveness, but also a desire to rescue. She gives them direction, a truth, and a hope for life. She shares the cure and provides her oppressors with a unique opportunity to be saved.
Remind you of anyone?
We see in John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
In one verse He gives them direction, a truth, and the hope of life. And He tells us time and again to love others the way He loves us and to give them the same hope He offered us. So why is it that we so often choose the worst for our enemies? We cheer for their downfall, we do our best to ensure that the last thing they feel is hope.
This young slave girl models exactly who Jesus was. A servant; abused and betrayed, yet willing to serve the very people guilty of causing pain. Offering hope to the very people that tried to take it away.
Our savior took our sins on Himself just to give us the hope of life in Him. He could have given us payback for the cross, but He instead gave us a “paid in full” receipt.
He wants us to show the same grace and love to those around us. What if we treated our enemies more like this girl treated hers? Instead of hate, offer hope. Instead of despising them, inspire them. Instead of giving them hell, offer them heaven?
John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Daily Directional: 4.17.20
Written by: Kristen Lambrich
“Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth.” -Colossians 3:1-2
Peace on Earth is not a formula. There isn’t a way to avoid being disappointed (I’m focusing on that emotion in particular because of the times we’re in, though you can substitute any negative emotion in here and it will ring true). For someone like me, this is an incredibly tough pill to swallow because EVERYTHING has to have a practical answer right?! I chose Colossians 3:1-2 because it’s a beautiful example of how one habitual act can lead to the one practical answer you need for all occasions. Let’s break it down:
Part 1: “If you have been raised up with Christ” This is a simple disclaimer to this verse, both meant to specifically address those who claim Christ as their savior, and meant to remind those that do that they have claimed Christ as their savior. Very clever trick, Paul. Ok so we’re listening, we’re reminded first and foremost that we have been raised up (i.e. from our spiritual dumpster fire lives, don’t gloss over this) with Christ…the Christ who beat death 3 days after being crucified.
Part 2: “keep seeking the things above, where Christ is”This part is the practical application of what we’re supposed to be doing every day: keep seeking the things above, WHERE CHRIST IS. The one that raised himself and us up. You could almost end the verse right here and it would be enough for most of us to put aside whatever is bothering us. But Paul goes on…
Part 3: “seated at the right hand of God” As if it wasn’t already enough to really get our perspective off the world and onto Jesus, Paul drills it in exactly where Jesus is- seated at the right hand of God. The God who created the very universe we’re living and struggling in. He’s begging us to think big picture here; this isn’t a motivational speech he’s giving, it’s a set of instructions. Which brings us to that last hard hitting verse.
Part 4: “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth.” The first half of this is to remind us again of the instructions that we talked about in the first 3 parts, and the last half is an extended definition “not on the things that are on the earth.” If you only have enough brain space to memorize one of these two verses, memorize this part because it’s the quickest and the easiest 180 from whatever it was you were previously focusing on. Just remember that Paul isn’t merely saying “just don’t think about it” to all our earthly troubles, he’s saying we have good reason not to focus on it. Because we have been raised up with Christ and there are much bigger things to dwell on!
I encourage you all as the world continues to feel more fragmented as the weeks go on, and many of us have already encountered a fair deal of disappointment and struggle, to remember this verse tomorrow as you’re tempted to despair. Remember that you have risen up, remember who raised you up, and set your mind on what is above you, not on what you see before you.
Daily Directional: 4.16.20
Written by: Kaleigh Adams
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.””Matthew 11:28-30
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”Philippians 1:6
There is a lot on social media dedicated to convincing us that this time of quarantine should be transformational; that this is the time to learn a new language, drop a bad habit, pick up an instrument, or become a world class chef.
Lurking in our hearts is the idea that we need to improve, that we are lacking something. In fact, much of the religious tradition of Jesus’ day was dedicated to answering that anxiety: do these things and you will be accepted by God, perform and you will be enough.
Often we go through our day carrying the weight of our own self-improvement, shouldering the tremendous burden of our own growth. But Jesus comes to us and offers something beautiful:
“My burden is easy, and my yoke is light”.
We are promised that the good work God began in us, the transformational work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, will be completed. The only prerequisite is that we are submitted to God, eagerly seeking His will in our lives. It’s the spiritual equivalent of having a personal chef —- Jesus is doing all the cooking; we just have to eat!
It is easy in this time of solitude to worry about maximizing your time, about coming out of the other side better. But maybe we can put that anxious energy aside, and instead rest, trusting that God will continue to work in us—as long as we are willing to listen.
Daily Directional: 4.15.20
Written by: Mike Thompson
Perseverance: The Struggle Makes You Stronger
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope. and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Perseverance is the determination to not give in and never give up. God uses difficulties to build our character and develop our perseverance. Satan, our adversary, comes at us even harder during these times of uncertainty, confusion, and the unknown because he recognizes the potential growth of love, faith, and hope. We need to develop discipline and harness the wisdom from God’s word, disciplining ourselves to seek God’s word and grace on a daily basis. Holding on to God’s truths during trials leads to perseverance, which will strengthen your character, deepen your trust in God, and give you greater confidence about the future.
Paul stated in a letter to the Corinthian church, when our greatest weakness is yielded to Christ, He can transform it into one of our greatest strengths. God already knows what is at the end of this and He will calm all our fears. Be a person with true grit, one who has passion and perseverance, and shows the strength of character that comes from faith in God.
Daily Directional: 4.14.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
“He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.” Luke 24:6-7
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” Galatians 5:1
After Pastor Josh’s sermon on Sunday I have been thinking a lot about the empty tomb. I woke up in the middle of the night last night with the scripture, “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free,” on my heart and in my mind. The tomb is empty, Christ broke the chains of sin and death, so we, as followers of Christ, can have freedom. Christ has set us free, so that we could live in freedom. Are you living in freedom?
The second part of this verse says that even though Christ has set us free, we can choose to live a life burdened by a yoke of slavery. Paul is urging the people of Galatia to stand firm against this yoke of slavery and stay in the freedom that Christ’s sacrifice gives. What does he mean by “yoke of slavery”? A yoke is a tool used to bind to oxen together for plowing. The metaphor is used a few times in the bible. Here Paul is referring to two things that take our freedom away. A yoke of slavery to sin—fleshly desires, our old life before we were set free in Christ; and a yoke of slavery to the law, or things to do in order to earn salvation, which was exactly opposite to the freedom of salvation through grace that Christ died to give us. And man does Satan want you to have a yoke of slavery! If he cannot take away your eternal freedom from death, he wants to keep you from living a free life, keep you burdened by sin and far away from the abundant free life Christ wants you to experience.
Do you have a yoke of slavery? Are you burdened by fear, the approval of others, an addiction, anxiety? Do these things keep you bound up, worried, hurting? Jesus’ freedom gives us the power to conquer sin, to live in peace and grace, to live boldly and with purpose, to be full of hope and sure of the strength found in Christ. His freedom lets us move mountains, live in a scary difficult world with joy, be a light and unselfishly love others. What a way to live. I want more of that, what about you?
Christ has set us free, his sacrifice on the cross gives us the opportunity through faith to be set free from sin and to have a relationship with the father. But how do we continue to live in that freedom that he has set us free for? Two things, first Jesus said that we need to come to him.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
He will replace the yoke of slavery that Paul was talking about, with his yoke, which is easy and light. Remember a yoke is who we are tying ourselves to, and Jesus invites us to yoke up with him and let him do the heavy lifting. You have to be close to someone to be yoked to them. Sometimes the bible refers to marriage as being yoked. Do you have this kind of relationship with Jesus? Do you talk to him, listen to him through his word, spend time being still and quiet with him? He is inviting you to be this close with him, “come to me,” he says.
And second, the truth brings freedom. “Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” John 8:31-32. The truth will bring freedom. We battle the yoke of slavery that Satan is trying to keep us in with the truth. The teachings of Jesus, the truth found in God’s word, studying them as a disciple or student, really knowing them, will bring freedom.
Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave, beating sin and death, to set you free, so each day you could live in freedom. Stand firm, then, in that freedom!
Daily Directional: 4.13.20
Written by: Kimberly Rockness
John 1: 4,5 “… His life brought life to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”
I Corinthians 15:57 “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
All around us people are feeling a wide array of emotions. Recently, I heard someone label their feelings during this time as grief. We normally think of grieving as following the death of someone we know and love, however, while during this time there are those who are experiencing this devastating kind of grief, there is another kind that is being experienced on a wider scale. One blogger defined it this way:
“Grief is the normal and natural emotional reaction to loss or change of any kind… the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.”
People all around us are reeling from the many changes in their familiar patterns of behavior – a loss of normalcy, grieving over what may never be or not knowing what else may be lost. On top of dealing with our own feelings, we may feel helpless to know how to assist others.
In the story of Lazarus’ being raised to life found in John 11, we find the shortest verse in the Bible in verse 35. “Jesus wept”. There are many reasons for Jesus’ tears, but one that I find comforting is that Jesus loved Mary and Martha and it hurt Him to see them hurting. What a loving and compassionate Savior! Despite knowing that He was the solution to their suffering He first shared in their suffering. That very day he knew their mourning would turn into joy after He raised their brother Lazarus from the dead! He knew He had a better plan that only could come as a result of going through suffering. And yet, He did not scold them for their feelings. In fact, He felt deeply alongside them. Jesus, the Light of the World, is willing to meet us in our darkness and despair.
Acknowledge any grief and loss you may be feeling as a result of your circumstances. Allow yourself and others to express painful emotions. But let’s not stay there. Jesus came alongside Mary and Martha in their suffering. He could have stayed where He was and spoken a Word and Lazarus could have been raised from the dead that way. But He came – He was present.
In this time of isolation, it would be easy to pull away and isolate even further, giving way to feelings of anxiety and depression. Instead, choose to be available and present by whatever means you can, willing to serve.
Be available for those with whom you are quarantined. Just because you are living with others, doesn’t automatically guarantee that you are available. We have often experienced the feeling that someone is physically with us, but they are not really with us.
Be available for those outside your home. In this time, we may not be able to be present in a physical sense, but we can be available. Will you pray and ask God to show you someone you should reach out to even when you are struggling yourself? Don’t wait until you have your problems under control, until you have energy or motivation or desire to do so. Do it anyway. Act despite your feelings. Your feelings don’t have to control your actions. And who knows? It may just be the antidote to rising above them.
We may not know the outcome to all we are facing, but we know the One who does! The One who brings light to our darkness! The One who grieves with us even when He knows victory is coming!
Daily Directional: 4.11.20
Written by: Katie Rose Ritchie
Genesis 22: 1 Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called. “Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.” 2 “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.”…9 When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. 10 And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. 11 At that moment the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!” 12 “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”
It’s easy to focus on what Abraham did in this story – he demonstrated extraordinary faith, and showed that there was absolutely nothing he would hold back from God. But it’s also important to note what he learned through this incredible, challenging moment.
The thing is, Abraham could have promised to trust the Lord with every breath…but until those promises were put to the test, it was just talk. Likewise, through hardship and struggles, we find confidence in our faith in way that we couldn’t if life were just one season of joy after another.
3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. (Romans 5:3-5)
I don’t know if I could bear Abraham’s long walk up the mountain with his son by his side. But I do know that the same God who stopped Abraham when the knife was in his hand is the same God who gave His only Son for my salvation and for yours – the same God who tells us time and time again not to fear, because He is with us.
At the end of the day, the most beautiful part of this story is not that Abraham was faithful, but that God is faithful. At just the moment when Abraham needed Him, God showed up. It must have been great for Abraham to know that he trusted God enough to follow through in obedience. But it was so much more important for Abraham to see that God keeps His promises.
20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. 21 He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. 22 And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. 23 And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded 24 for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. (Romans 4:20-24)
I don’t know what pain or trials you are going through – but I do know that if times are hard, you’re in the perfect spot to see if your faith will hold firm. Better yet, you’re in the perfect spot to see that God always holds firm – and nothing reminds us of that more than Easter. It doesn’t mean you won’t have to walk up that mountain, but you can be certain about the One who will meet you at the top.
Daily Directional: 4.10.20
Written by: John Petty
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.
Words are so vitally important. With them we convey all sorts of thoughts and ideas. In fact, a carefully placed word in a phrase or sentence can often communicate our ideas in a completely different way. For example, I recently heard a clinical psychologist use the phrase “physical distancing” in replacement of “social distancing”. Swapping out that one word, he conveyed an entirely different meaning while accomplishing the same task. We read in James that controlling our words is not something we are particularly good at. In fact, we are taught here that for us it is easier to tame a wild animal than to tame our tongue. Just watch the series “Tiger King” on Netflix, and you can see this point made abundantly clear.
If I am honest, at times I have quite literally wrecked everything and everyone with a few single misplaced words. In my actions I have given more credibility (not that it needed it) to a verse found earlier in this same passage. A verse that compared our words to a small spark that can set a wildfire. Winston Churchill once said “To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.”
If you’re like me controlling what comes out of your mouth is a full-time job. I’m reminded in Luke 6:45, that I cannot control it on my own. Jesus teaches us that if I want my words to be right, I need to keep my heart right. Again, just do the one thing He’s asking me, deny self and follow Him. I know I am a broken record when it comes to this, but I see all roads leading back to my heart relationship with God (Prov 4:23). This passage in James is simply one more call for me as a believer to be on task pleasing God daily. It is always important, but critical when times are tough or stressful. When I am confronted with difficult times and difficult people my word choices are excellent indicators of letting me know who is control of my heart.
During this tough time, let’s do our best to stay close to God and use words that heal, rather than hurt. Consider memorizing the proverb below to keep as a pocket-sized reminder of the unbelievable power in your speech. We are supposed to be bringing the “good news”, let’s not add to all the noise.
Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Daily Directional: 4.9.20
Written by: Kristen Lambrich
“But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?””Jonah 4:11 NLT
This week we heard a message from Pastor Josh on the story of Jonah, a prophet who wanted to do anything but what God had asked him. We didn’t delve into much detail about the rest of Jonah’s story, but to sum it up (kind of) quickly:
- Jonah is thrown from the boat he’s “escaping” on
- God sends a fish to protect him from drowning
- Jonah repents
- God makes the fish spit Jonah onto the shore and asks him again to go to Nineveh
- Jonah goes, prophecies about the city’s coming destruction, the people repent, and God spares the city
- Jonah is VERY upset by this, wishes for his death because he was hoping for Nineveh to be destroyed, and pouts outside of the city under a scorching sun while continuing to complain to God about His compassionate decision
- God very lovingly answers Jonah’s complaints with verse 11 listed above
We won’t unpack Jonah’s heart for the sake of this devotional, though I’m sure MUCH can be learned from his poor example. Instead, I want to focus on God’s heart in this story. I can count 7 different ways God showed compassion to Jonah either by protecting him from his own mistakes, by allowing him so many chances to have a part in His plans, or by answering Jonah’s complaints like a good father would his son. God’s heart for the city of Nineveh itself is even more evidence of His love as we know He spares them when He easily could have destroyed them justly. Look into that verse again, and how much care God puts into His response to Jonah! Couldn’t God have just as easily given a “shut up and color” response to someone so hateful towards a group of people God cares deeply for? And not only does God reason with Jonah by revealing his care for the 120,000 of this “great” city, he even adds in that phrase “not to mention all the animals.” It makes me laugh to read such a simple response, and it amazes me at the same time to see just how DEEP the love of God runs for His creation. Even in their rebellion, God was moved by the people of Nineveh. Even in Jonah’s childish behavior, God was moved to be a good father to him. And as Easter approaches, it feels imperative to remember the idea of how much we move God as His children and creation. This same spirit of compassion was sent down in the person of Jesus Christ to display for us the ultimate example of God’s heart for His people. Shortly before Jesus goes to the cross we read about the story of Lazarus, and I want to highlight a couple verses that again demonstrate how intimate Christ’s love is for us:
“When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Then Jesus wept.”John 11:33-35 NLT
Much like in Jonah’s story, God already knew the miracle He was going to perform for Lazarus and His family. So why did Jesus bother to weep? Why did God bother to answer Jonah’s indignant questions? Why does God today still bother to answer our prayers, offer us encouragement, provide for our daily needs? Because He is moved by us. It’s the very reason Jesus endured a cross over 2,000 years ago to spare us from our own mistakes. I encourage you this week, while we prepare our hearts for celebration of the greatest day in history, to remember and thank God for the love He has for us. To remember that it isn’t a distant cold kind of love…it is a wildly compassionate, deeply intimate, detail oriented, immensely empathetic kind of love. Even for the Jonahs among us.
Daily Directional: 4.8.20
Written by: Kaleigh Adams
“He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.””
Mark 14:34-36 NLT
“…I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NLT
These scriptures highlight two different examples of people asking to be delivered from hardship, and being denied. One, of course, is Jesus himself. This prayer before he is going to be crucified shows His humanity, but it also shows His deep submission to God’s will. Jesus shows here what it means to let our faith embolden us to the point of facing extreme adversity, trusting that God’s purpose is great and beautiful, even in the face of suffering.
We see something similar in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, where he describes an affliction (the nature of which we don’t know, though many suspect it may have been to do with his eyesight) that he has begged God to remove—and yet it remains. Paul relays what he heard from God:
“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness”
Paul shows us a response that guides us through suffering, something that we can hold in our hearts to comfort us. Our weakness does not equal God’s weakness; in fact, our weakness magnifies God’s greatness! The weakest among us are most able to showcase God’s power. What an incredible promise to hold to when we feel weak, useless, or scared.
In the days leading up to Easter, as we reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice and the gift of salvation that was won from His suffering, let us also remember that God had plans for our suffering as well. We know the great gift that came from Christ’s pain, and so we can trust God to do something great from our own pain, as well.
Daily Directional: 4.7.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
“…Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” Nehemiah 8:10
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Luke 15:20
“For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17
The joy of the LORD in being our Father
In the Bible, God is often described as being our Father. For some who had a pleasant childhood this can be an easy characteristic of God to comprehend, it can bring comfort and security. While for others, whose earthly fathers fell short, God as a loving father figure can be hard to understand.
In the parable known as the prodigal son, Jesus teaches us about God’s fatherly love. I encourage you to read this parable in its entirety. It’s found in Luke 15:11-32. To summarize, the parable is about two sons and a father. The younger son asks for his inheritance and the father gives it to him. Then the younger son is “prodigal” or wasteful and spends all his inheritance. He gets to the point where he is starving to death and decides to go back to his father to hopefully work for him as a servant. Verse 20 says, “But while he [the son] was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”
This is the kind of father that God is. We can do everything wrong, waste everything he’s given us, end up in the pig pen, our life can be a dumpster fire (as Pastor Josh loves to say), but the second we turn towards God He is running towards us, with open arms. The joy and delight the father has for his son in this parable is the same joy and delight the God has towards us when we turn to him.
Nehemiah 8:10 says “the joy of the LORD is your strength.” The joy that God has in being our father, in taking care of us, in having compassion and mercy on us, is where we can find our strength. Just like a child finds safety and strength when his/her father finds joy in being their dad and taking care of them, we can rest and be strengthened by knowing that God enjoys being our Father, “he delights in us”, as it says in Zephaniah 3:17.
Maybe you have been prodigal (wasteful) with the things God has given you and you are ready to turn back to him; God is ready to run to you. Maybe you need to be reminded that God enjoys being your father, and he is perfect at taking care of you, so rest in that today. Let the knowledge that God delights in being our Dad calm your fears and give you strength.
“For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17
Daily Directional: 4.6.20
“It’s Okay To Be Different”
Written by: Pastor Josh Adams
Exodus 19:5 “Now therefore, if you will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then you will be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:”
1 Peter 2:9 “But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”
Peculiar – is commonly used to mean strange or odd; unusual, but it can also be used to mean belonging exclusively to.
It shouldn’t surprise us that God says that those of us that follow Him would be peculiar. God clearly wants us to STAND OUT. Now, culture would have you believe that following God means you have to be…well, a nerd. That believers have to be a ‘Ned Flanders, hi-diddly-do’ type of person. However, God hasn’t called us to be awkward or antisocial, but He’s also not looking for followers that blend in or think like everyone else. He wants those that have surrendered to Him to have something noticeable about them, something that may even seem a little weird!
Matthew 5:13a“You are the salt of the earth. (You need to be flavor in a flavorless world) But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor?”
Today in our current situation we may feel a pull to be afraid or anxious (why not? everyone else seems to be). You may feel a temptation to hoard your supplies and turn a suspicious or greedy eye on those around you. But this is where we are supposed to be different! We are expected to be the ones that go above and beyond in demonstrating service and sacrifice, for showing radical generosity. We should be the ones running towards the problem when others are running away.
Matthew 5:16 “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”
I pray that in the days to come you’ll be proud to be different, set apart, and peculiar. The world needs that now more than ever.
John 13:35 “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.””
Daily Directional: 4.4.20
Written by: John Petty
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Love, joy, peace, “PATIENCE”….
These character traits and a few others are all listed as “fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians chapter 5. Of course, when we look at the list who wouldn’t want this fruit? Especially when you consider the alternate list containing the acts of our sinful nature also listed in Galatians 5. However, what we learn from this passage is that desire alone will not produce them. In fact, if we read the whole chapter carefully, we will see that they are not really our traits at all, but rather those of the Holy Spirit reflected in us. In this passage we begin to understand that this fruit is produced by a willful act of obedience to God and His commands and a “crucifying” of our sinful desires. When we trust God instead of allowing our visceral reactions to life and circumstances overtake our thoughts something quite supernatural takes place in our heart. We go from being a self-focused human displaying all the stuff that comes with that, to becoming a God focused human that begins to display the very character traits of God’s Spirit.
This goal simply put is to please God and not self. What a simple concept to understand. It is so easy to write, say, teach, and read. However, the discipling of our will is incredibly difficult to do. In fact, I think I struggle with this minute by minute some days. I want what I want, when I want it, and how I want it. I am ok with loving God and serving others provided it fits within my agenda. As conflicts between the two agendas arise, my attitudes and actions will soon reflect who I have been putting first. I can try to power through holding on to my agenda and just pretend to have the fruits, but I will soon grow weary and just give up. It is because as John 15 reminds us fruit not connected to the vine will wither and die. Conversely, when I first put my heart on the one thing God asks of me; To fully trust and obey Him and His will for my life, I am literally a different person. I find myself walking through the same life, still completely aware of the situations and problems around me, but not troubled by them. Moreover, my reactions to adversity and conflicts are very different.
I have read this passage many times and I don’t know why (I kind of do) but after reading this recently the word “patience” just jumped out at me. Basically, I was attacked by the Bible. A spiritual sucker punch if you will. Perhaps it is because I have seen a subtle lack of patience displayed in my actions and attitudes towards, well just about everything. Thank you, God, for the reminder that my lack of patience right now will not be remedied when my circumstances change, or by some mustered up stiff upper lip approach to life. I may be able to prevent an outburst or two, or perhaps hide it so no one even knows, but it will do nothing to address the real underlying issue. According to this passage, my lack of patience has its origin when I stopped looking at Jesus as the author and perfecter of my faith and started charting out my own course of how things ought to be.
Perhaps you like me needed that reminder today. I attached an excerpt from Psalm 27 I found particularly helpful. A Psalm I believe was written by David where he again is counselling himself (and us) back to a place where we are looking toward God not ourselves and trusting in Him alone.
13 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
Daily Directional: 4.3.20
Written by: Kristen Lambrich
1 John 2:7-8
“Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before. Yet it is also new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it. For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining.”
The more I live the more convinced I become of how much God knows what He’s doing. Lyrics of a song we sang together a few weeks ago ring out as time continues to pass in quarantine: “You take what the enemy meant for evil and you turn it for good.” We base our nightly prayer off Romans 8:28 with this same message. And now here again reading through 1 John I see God continuing to teach me that He has always had a plan to lift the darkness from our lives. A pandemic is sweeping through our nation, our churches aren’t gathering in person, the body of Christ is regulated to their homes and only a few people around, and yet I am watching God actively spread the Gospel in a way I have never seen or heard of. Many of you are living with people in your homes who don’t know who Jesus is yet, and many of them have probably refused to come to church with you. So what do we see God do? He brings church directly to them! Not just by us being the messengers, but by literally placing church on the television! And not just on Sunday morning…every night at 8:28. Every time you zoom your connect group. Every time you open up one of these directionals. How is it possible that during a worldwide quarantine the darkest areas of communities are more saturated with the Gospel than every before?? The answer is simple: God. Our miracle working, amazingly compassionate, all knowing, all powerful God is lighting up the darkness right before our eyes. Do not pass up this moment in history, do not miss what He is doing, do not mistake this beautiful upside-down time period for anything other than the miracle it actually is! What I love most about this part of 1 John is that he doesn’t say “the true light will shine.” He says true light is ALREADY shining. Pandemic and all, God’s light is causing our darkness to disappear before our eyes. What a beautiful time to know the One who holds miracles in His hand and gives to us so generously in ways we never expect.
Daily Directional: 4.2.20
Written by: Kimberly Rockness
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
“Each time He said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
We don’t like the feeling of being weak. Fitness and nutrition articles remind us how we must be diligent in diet and exercise to maintain and increase physical health and strength. We know we need to get proper rest to have the needed energy and stamina to face our day. We look to the experts to discover how we can be our best selves, to be mentally and emotionally strong so that we are equipped to handle life and relationships. And yet situations arise continually that remind us that we are, in fact, weak. When faced with a task we feel inadequate to tackle, when circumstances arise beyond our control, when we encounter problems we cannot seem to fix, when swelling emotions seem beyond our control – we are confronted repeatedly with our weakness.
God’s ways are most often counter to our natural tendencies. He says we should delight in our weakness! Why? Because it is then that we are strong! This doesn’t seem to make sense on the surface does it? However, it is in our weakness that we experience God’s power working in and through us. It is our weakness that drives us to stop depending on our frail and unreliable human strength and start drawing from God’s unending supply of supernatural strength. The power of Christ is always available to those who believe and put their trust in Him. Just how powerful is this power? It is “the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 1:19)! Why do we still try to depend on our own strength when the strength that has the power to raise Christ from the dead is available to us?
We can be encouraged that not only is this power available to us but that the Lord wants to give it to us! We are told in 2 Chronicles 16:9 “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” I love this image of God actually actively searching the earth for those who have given their hearts completely to Him just so he can strengthen them. God is omnipresent. He is everywhere. He doesn’t need to search for anything as if anything is hidden from Him. But this verse pictures for us our loving heavenly Father who longs to grant us His strength in place of our weakness.
When you feel weak or ill equipped to handle whatever you are facing, don’t just try to muster up some strength within yourself. Talk to God. Tell Him you feel weak and ask Him for His strength. Then trust Him to supply it even when you don’t feel strong. Trust His Word more than your feelings. He longs to strengthen you. He promises to strengthen you. He is strengthening you even when you feel weak. He will always do what He promises. You can count on it.
“I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”
Daily Directional: 4.1.20
Written by: Kaleigh Adams
There is a lot of backstory to these verses (you can find the full story in chapters 15-21 of Genesis), but I wanted to focus on a brief series of verses within the story. Hagar was the servant of Sarah and Abraham, who were used by God to start the nation of Israel. Before Sarah and Abraham were given their promised son Isaac, however, Hagar became a pawn in their ill-advised plot to bring about God’s blessing their way. Hagar found herself pregnant by Abraham, and severely mistreated by Sarah as a result. These verses pick up after Hagar has run away to avoid more mistreatment, and is now alone in the wilderness:
The angel of the Lord found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur. The angel said to her, “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?”
“I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai,” she replied.
The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.” Then he added, “I will give you more descendants than you can count.” And the angel also said, “You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the Lord has heard your cry of distress…
…Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?”
Hagar had no friends, no family, and no home. The only stability she had came from Abraham and Sarah, who were now mistreating her. She ran away to the wilderness, and was then completely and totally alone. Many of us are now experiencing something similar: a profound sense of isolation, a disruption of our stabilizing routines. Many are celebrating milestones (birthdays, births, and even weddings!) away from the people they hoped to share those moments with. Many are also mourning alone, working through difficult moments away from communities they relied on.
In this passage our attention is drawn to two things: God HEARS and God SEES. Even at our most alone, God hears us and He sees us. He knows our hearts: our joys, our fears, our doubts and our sorrows. Hagar believed that she was alone, abandoned, and unnoticed. But after her encounter with God, she referred to Him always as “The God who sees me.” She took comfort and confidence from the knowledge that she was known and noticed by God himself.
As you are going through your day, remember that our God is the God who sees and the God who hears; and that even when at your most alone, fearful, or insecure, you are known and loved by Him.
Daily Directional: 3.31.20
Written by: Katie Rose Ritchie
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”
I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen and heard this verse so many times that I have a habit of passing right by it. But this one sentence could (and should) change our entire lives: the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
Think about it for just a second – no really, think about it. The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want. Another translation says it this way: the Lord is my shepherd, I have all that I need. If I were to live each day in a way that reflected an all in, sold out, whole hearted belief in the fact that God is guiding me and I will never want for anything…I’d say things would look a bit different.
Now, to be clear, this passage is not saying that we will get everything we want. But God will provide us with everything we need, and we will not be left wanting. Usually when I hear about God’s provision, my mind goes toward the practical – finances, food, shelter, safety. But it is also true that God provides for us spiritually and emotionally – meaning that with God as our shepherd we will not be left without love or acceptance, purpose or meaning, compassion or understanding. Turns out we humans are a needy bunch. Thankfully we have a God who is for us – so “for us” that He didn’t even hold back His only Son.
“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?” (Romans 8:31-32)
For someone who believes that God is for me, I sure do spend a lot of time being for myself, as if He doesn’t have it covered. But the Lord is my shepherd. I have all that I need. Who or what could possibly threaten that?
Today, let’s choose to keep Psalm 23:1 at the forefront of our minds, and choose to live in a way that reflects faith in a God who provides for our every need. I don’t mean just nodding in agreement right now as you’re reading and then forgetting about it in five minutes. What if you tried a practical solution – when faced with a situation that brings about fear, pride, discomfort, or temptation, say those nine words in your mind. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
When that bill comes in the mail – the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. When that person isn’t showing you the love you crave – the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. When you are faced with that diagnosis – the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. When you feel alone and overwhelmed – the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
Then think of all the other people out there right now, reading these same words.
The Lord is our shepherd. We have all that we need.
Daily Directional: 3.30.20
Just One Touch
Written by: Pastor Josh Adams
“A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition. Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?” His disciples said to him, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?’” But he kept on looking around to see who had done it. Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.””
The woman in this story didn’t ask Jesus for a prayer or a blessing. She didn’t need to take any of His time or attention. She didn’t need a long begging intercession from this visiting Rabbi. She didn’t need to own his robe or even put it on. She didn’t need hours and hours of treatment, consultations, or interactions with Jesus.
All she needed was one moment where she reached out to Jesus in faith and believed that He could heal her.
Your spiritual restoration is a simple act of faith away. You don’t need a long drawn out wordy prayer. You don’t need to buy a special coat, book, or blessing. You only need the power of Jesus. Forgiveness, spiritual healing, happens in an instant, the moment you trust Christ with your life and eternity.
If you’ve already experienced this forgiveness, then your job is to be the robe.
This world is filled with people that are broken and feel ashamed. They already have been let down and disappointed by so many false “saviors” their skepticism and/or insecurities are going to keep them from getting as close to Jesus as they may want. HOWEVER… you’ve been touched by Jesus. And the Bible says that those of us that know Christ, have the Holy Spirit living inside of us.
You may just be the thing that person needs most. You’re now a conduit of Jesus’ love for them. Don’t get me wrong, you and I can’t take away anyone’s sins or offer them salvation. But as Christ’s followers, we are His lifeline to save others. So stay close to Jesus…close like a coat in winter time. So close that when someone reaches out to you, they reach out to Jesus by extension. Maybe even now there is someone in the crowd, just waiting to be healed.
Daily Directional: 3.28.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
“Only be careful and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”
Remembering is a big theme throughout the Bible. All through the Old Testament, God repeatedly tells the Israelites to remember; remember God and remember what the Lord has done. But oh, how quickly they forget. God brings them out of Egypt, out of slavery, parts the Red Sea, does all kinds of miraculous things, and then they find themselves in the desert, forgetting all these things and wishing they were back in slavery. They forget the God who is taking care of them. But he does not forget them. God always remembers the promises he makes to us.
There are several different things that those in the bible do in order to remember God’s faithfulness. Building monuments was one way. Pastor Josh did a whole sermon series last year on this; the monumental things God has done in our life and remembering those events. The Israelites would set up monuments, sometimes piles of rocks, to remind themselves of God’s faithfulness (Joshua 4:1-24).
Writing was another important tool used in the bible to remember. David, in the book of Psalms, writes about the times God rescued him, blessed him, heard his cry, and was faithful to him. Speaking is also used to remember. In Deuteronomy, Moses tells the Israelites to talk with their children about the miraculous things God did; and in Revelation, it says that we will overcome Satan by Jesus’ blood and by speaking out loud the memory of God’s faithfulness in our own lives (Revelation 12:11). Food, festivals and celebrations are also things that God uses to help us remember. Festivals in the Old Testament reminded the Israelites of God and his faithfulness, the Lord’s Supper in the New Testament reminds us of Jesus’ sacrifice for us.
Why did God make remembering such a big deal? Because he knew that when we started to forget Him, His faithfulness, the things He has done in our life, that would be when the fear and worry would take over, when we would trust ourselves, and try in vain to control our situation. We would lose our joy and peace that comes only from Him. Thankfully, for those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior, we have something that can help us remember; the Holy Spirit. It is literally one of his jobs to help us remember. “He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (John 14:26).
We have the Holy Spirit to help us remember and we have several ideas from the bible on how to remember (monuments, writing, food, speaking it); so, today remember. Especially in a time of uncertainty, remember God’s faithfulness to you. And then do something to remind yourself of that memory; talk about it with your family, create art (monument), eat a meal in celebration, journal about it. Remember God’s faithfulness because He is always faithful and His faithfulness in the past is an example and a promise for his faithfulness in the future.
Daily Directional: 3.27.20
Written by: John Petty
9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
This is most likely a familiar passage to you; the very words God spoke to Joshua before he was to lead the people across the Jordan river on their journey to the land God had promised to give them. God uses the phrase “be strong and courageous” to both encourage Joshua and remind him of where the strength for the victory will come from. In fact, this is the third time God reminds Joshua of this in this very passage. Joshua now has the task of standing before all the nation and leading them to trust God in very uncertain times. He immediately obeys the call and encourages the people of God with this same approach. He moves ahead and encourages them to remember the promises God made to them and to charge ahead. The subsequent victories and achievements stand as a testimony to the fulfilment of those promises. These fulfilled promises have been recorded in God’s word and generations have been able to reflect upon them in times of uncertainty.
It is important to note that today we have the privilege of reading these passages from the vantage point of history. In other words, we already know the outcome. God did exactly what He said He would. His promises were fulfilled, and all His words came to pass. Why is this important? I am glad you asked. It is important because here, and throughout the entirety of Scripture, we have countless historical records of the same exact thing. All of God’s words and promises are true. They do not change as they are not subject to humanity and our limits. Basically, we can always trust Him. The only difference in our specific circumstance is the vantage point from which we view it. In other words, we do not know the specifics of the eventual outcome. However, neither God or His promises have changed. We can still fully trust them both.
Let us remind ourselves (and each other) that in uncertain times and circumstances we have these certain promises. As you can see in the passage the consistent reflecting on these promises are the key to our confidence. God thought it important to keep reminding Joshua (even though he was already aware) that He would be with him. Therefore, we would be wise to do the same for each other. Proverbs 12:25 reminds us that “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up”. Now is the time to remind each other of the certainties and promises we have in God’s word. Take some time today and seek out one or two of God’s promises to us. Write them down, memorize them, send them to a friend. Let us work together to promote the true narrative of God’s promises to those He has called according to His purposes. Of course, we don’t know the future, but we can always trust in an unchanging God who does.
Daily Directional: 3.26.20
Written by: Kimberly Rockness
Psalm 112:1, 7-8
“Praise the Lord. Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in His commands. He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.”
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.”
In this passage we are presented with two types of fear – one that is desirable and one that is undesirable. We are promised that we can live a life without fear, in fact, God commands us not to fear (Isaiah 41:10). The only exception is that we are to fear the Lord. That is a phrase that doesn’t make much sense to the modern mind, but here we are told a little bit about what fearing the Lord means practically – one who finds great delight in God’s commands. As people who like to do what we want to do and when we want to do it (and most often have the freedom to do so), we don’t usually think of commands as something that we would even remotely like, much less find great delight in. And yet, God says if we delight in His commands, we are blessed. In fact, here we see that one of God’s blessings is being able to have a heart that is steadfast, secure – at peace.
Psalm 112:7 sheds light on how we can get to the place where we find “great delight” in God’s commands – by trusting in the Lord. That phrase is thrown around a lot, but if we are to actually do it, it will require a conscious choice on our part. If we really and truly trust the Lord, no matter what is going on around us, no matter what bad news we may receive – we do not need to fear. Note that it does not say that we won’t receive bad news – just that we won’t fear it. It is only if we are so fixed on the truth of what God says, more than on any bad news we may receive, that it is possible for our hearts to remain securely grounded in peace.
If you have ever tried to encourage a child to jump off the side of a pool into your arms you know that you soon find out if that child really trusts you to catch them. If they refuse to jump or are protesting in fear despite your cajoling, it is because they are fixated on the perceived danger – the water. In that moment they believe you won’t really catch them and that they will drown. As one who loves this child, you know you would never let this happen and that their fears are unfounded. “Don’t you trust me?” you may ask. “Oh yes, I trust you,” comes the reply. However, once you have done all you can to convince the child to jump, if they persist in focusing on their fear of the water, have they demonstrated that they trust you? Is the fact that the child said that they trust you evidence enough that they do indeed trust you? The only way they demonstrate their trust is by focusing on you and on the fact that you love them enough to remain true to your word. Ultimately, they don’t demonstrate their trust just by saying they trust you, but by obeying your command – Jump!
How do we, who are hearing so much bad news these days, get to the place where we can be free of fear and confidently trust the Lord to care for us no matter what hardship we may have to endure? The psalmist tells us we need a steadfast heart. Steadfast means firm, unwavering, determined. Let’s determine to spend more time fixing our minds firmly on the truth of God’s Word that we may possess an unwavering faith and trust in the God who desires to grant our hearts peace in the midst of any circumstance. Through Jesus, it is possible for us to be overwhelmingly victorious and triumph over the foe of fear! (Romans 8:37)
Daily Directional: 3.25.20
Written by: Kristen Lambrich
17 “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. 19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. 20 But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!“
If you’re like me and read through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount you feel dejected…because what Jesus lists out for us is honestly impossible. You haven’t murdered, but you’ve been angry with someone (Jesus says those are the same). Maybe you’ve sworn to do something and failed to followthrough, maybe you’ve hated your enemy, maybe you’re divorced, or you’ve been selfish towards the poor, or hypocritically prayed to God, or put your faith in finances, or judged your neighbor, or given up hope in God altogether, or looked out only for yourself…even just one time.
Which brings me to this ball of yarn I’m working on. Or at least it WAS a ball of yarn until my lovely nephew got ahold of it – now it’s a total mess. I’m about 5 hours into attempting to untangle it, and to be honest it looks about the same as when I started. Isn’t that just like all of us, staring at our mess and trying to untangle all the bad things bit by bit only to make a fraction of a dent? And what if that dent is still not enough? It’s easy to start feeling immensely anxious at this thought, until you remember the completion of Jesus’ ministry here on earth: “It is finished!” John 19:30
Through his work on the cross every bit of my mess was paid for. His life for mine, not in part but ENTIRELY. He hasn’t merely helped fix up my mess…He has given me an entirely new life (or a whole ball of fresh yarn so to speak) to point to at the end of all of this. I’ve chosen to put my faith in the work of Christ and NOT myself! Finally, a true hope without fear.
It’s been settled that when I come face to face with God I don’t have to present myself perfectly, but rather present the perfect Jesus in my place. So why bother untangling that messy yarn now?Because eventually this tangle will be a baby blanket. Or a scarf. Or a pair of socks (I really haven’t decided). My point being…my mess is worth untangling because of what it can be: something beautiful.
So while we have this time to reflect, and change, and dig through ourselves let’s remember the One who stands in the gap of our sin, and “let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9
Daily Directional: 3.24.20
Written by: John Rockness
“He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given.”
This verse illustrates God’s great compassion for the poor in that He clearly states His indebtedness to those who minister personally to the poor in His name. To the believer who willingly extends his or her resources to those in need, God Himself has promised to pay back what is given. When God pays back it is more often than not in greater proportion to what was given. He delights in “opening the windows of heaven” as a blessing to those who would serve Him.
Who are the poor we are to serve? They may not just be the financially poor. God could direct you to minister to the one who is poor in health. It could be someone who is poor in spirit, downcast or suffering through an emotional need. It could be a lost soul who is spiritually destitute. Someone who needs to hear the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ. Taking pity on the poor is more than giving money to someone who has a financial need. It is meeting whatever need the person God puts in your path may have. It could be as simple as just being a friend to someone who has none.
We currently find ourselves living in an interesting and concerning time. We, as children of the Almighty and Loving God of the Universe have a unique opportunity to reach out to those uncertain about their future. In giving our time, money and efforts to the ones around us who are desperate, we become an extension of God’s great love for them.
When we do this, not only does it divert our focus away from our own fears and anxieties but it creates the opportunity for us to grow in faith and for God to meet our own needs in abundance.
The needs are many. What will you do?
Daily Directional: 3.23.20
Written by: Kaleigh Adams
“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”
“Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.”
1 Timothy 6:17
“Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.“
Jeremiah tells us that those who have put their hope and confidence in the Lord are blessed, it says they are like trees that never stop producing fruit, even during long periods of drought. An earlier post talked about the fruits of the spirit, which are characteristics that God promises to those who follow Him (Galatians 5:22-23). One of the fruits of the spirit is JOY!
Times of crisis or struggle have a way of exposing what it is we are actually putting our hope in. A pastor I know used to say “Tell me what you’re most afraid to lose, and I’ll tell you where your hope is.” What’s happening in our world right now is robbing a lot of people of their joy, because it is attacking the very things that so many of us put our hope and confidence in: our wealth, our job security, our social lives, our routines, and even our health. But when we instead choose to put our confidence in God— trusting that He is good even in bad circumstances, and that He will give us joy even through the darkest moments, we put our hope in something that can never be taken from us.
The Bible tells us that we can “rejoice in our confident hope”, and that God “richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.” There is no promise that life will always go the way we planned, and there is no promise that there will be no pain and no struggle. The promise is that God will faithfully supply the strength we need to have joy, no matter what happens to us.
In Proverbs, it describes a wise woman who “laughs without fear of the future.” (Proverbs 31:25). Imagine what it would be like to be able to experience the kind of joy that produces laughter, even in the face of an uncertain or frightening future! This is the level of confidence that God has promised us, if we will put our confidence and hope in Him.
Daily Directional: 3.21.20
Written by: Katie Rose Ritchie
1 Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest. 2 He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains. 3 As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” 5 “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! 6 Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” 7 The men with Saul stood speechless, for they heard the sound of someone’s voice but saw no one! 8 Saul picked himself up off the ground, but when he opened his eyes he was blind. So his companions led him by the hand to Damascus. 9 He remained there blind for three days and did not eat or drink.
Something I often fail to remember is that God is not wasteful. Times that we see as passive waiting periods are often the times when God is doing His most incredible work in ways that we can’t or don’t see.
We see examples of this in life nearly every day. While we’re waiting for a flower to poke up from the soil, there are beautiful, essential stages of growth happening just under the surface. When we spend 6-8 “unproductive” hours sleeping each night, our bodies are resetting, rejuvenating, and healing. Or when we are in the midst of the most painful, difficult seasons of life, we end up learning the very things that God will use to guide us toward carrying someone else through their trials.
We see this in the Bible all the time, as well. Saul (soon to be Paul) spends three days in utter blindness, not only to have his vision restored by God, but to come out an entirely new man. Jonah spends three days in the belly of a fish, where he learns that following God is not the same as getting what we want (but it turns out to be much better). And best of all, Jesus spends 3 days in a dark tomb, only to emerge as our Savior, promising new life to any and all who will accept it.
If we see, then, that God does not waste time, it begs the question: how is He using this time in your life?
Maybe getting into this Daily Directional is your first step toward building a lifelong habit of beginning each day with God. Maybe this unexpected time with family is your opportunity to finally have that hard conversation, or show love to that person you’ve been neglecting. Maybe right this second you find yourself in utter darkness, only to realize that God is there with you, walking you patiently toward a light you can’t yet see.
Or maybe the answer is simply this: God is giving us all a chance to trust Him. Perhaps for the very first time, or maybe in a brand new way. To trust that He is in control of things on a global scale, and to trust that He will not waste our time if we will only let Him use it.
Daily Directional: 3.20.20
Written by: Pastor Josh Adams
As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. 19 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
What Lies Beneath
It’s hard to believe that some people could act the way you see depicted on the television. What’s beneath the surface of the people that one morning are smiling and waving politely, and the following morning they are hoarding boxes of ramen and leaving angry comments on the internet?
Perhaps just beneath the surface of the calm and collected facade lies a person racked with anxiety, greed, and fear?It may just be that your neighbor, the person on television, or the one in your bathroom mirror all suffer from a low grade, unending, uncertainty.
When the rich man in Mark 10 asks Jesus for direction, Jesus tells him to sell his belongings, give everything to those more in need, and follow Christ. The rich man leaves sad at this news, not empowered. Why? What was so depressing in Jesus’ description of self-sacrifice? Jesus was exposing a hidden idol in the rich man’s heart. While on the exterior, his typical daily behavior would have led his friends and neighbors to believe he was a good, and even “religious” guy, when faced with the reality of Jesus and the call to love others the rich man showed what was truly in his heart.
For those who follow Christ, our true character should be one of love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness. (Fruits of the Spirit from Galatians 5) What a testimony it would be for the chaos of the day to bring to the surface an attitude of care and compassion instead of greed and self-preservation.
Daily Directional: 3.19.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (NLT)
“Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]” (AMP)
Fix your thoughts on what is true.
We live in an unsure world, even before the uncertainty of the coronavirus, our world was facing a pandemic of anxiety. So, what to do to fight the fear that plagues our world today? Think about what is true.
Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, addressed their struggle with anxiety, giving them godly help with a real-life issue they were facing. These are practical steps we can take to fight anxiety. First, in Philippians 4:6-7 it says, we should pray about everything, sharing our worries and requests with the Lord, and thanking him for what he’s already done in our lives. Paul promises if we do these things that an incomprehensible amount of peace will fill us.
But let’s focus on verse 8, it gives us another practical thing we can do to fight anxiety. Shift our thoughts from the fear and worry, the what if’s and uncertainty, to the TRUTH. Think about things that you know are true, things about God from his word. Think about things that are pure and lovely, that fill your heart with peace and joy. The amplified version of the bible says, “…think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].”
Today when you’re overwhelmed by the uncertainty of the things in this world, shift your thoughts to the truth found in God’s word. Think about the things that bring you joy. Center your mind and heart on the truth that God is in control, and we are not alone. Take it one step further and talk about, with your family and friends, the true, pure, lovely things you are thinking.
Daily Directional: 3.18.20
Written by: John Petty
4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.
The setting of this story in the Old Testament is right after God lead the Israelites out of slavery. They encounter some difficulty, and immediately begin to complain against their leaders, which translates as an attack against God. Their memories of the previous hopeless state they were in become clouded by the current battles they were fighting.
Here in this passage we see a repeated theme throughout Scripture. God will supply all our needs according the riches of His Glory. He is in charge, and He cares for His own. We need not doubt His provision; However, it is imperative that we do not lose sight of God’s desire for us to stay focused on the day. As Billy Graham used to say, “Do not be afraid of the future, God is already there”. In this current time of apparent chaos, let us remind each other to stay focused on pleasing God in the day, and trust in Him for all our provision. He is the one that lead us out of the darkness of our sin. He is still on the throne and He still has a plan to glorify Himself through those He has called out.