Timeline—Part 7 [Devotional]

Going Deeper with the Message:

In the Midst of Chaos
by: Barb Barnhart

History has a way of helping us put our lives in perspective. When we read in the Old Testament about the Kings of Israel and Judah, we realize quickly that many of them did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. The chosen people of God, who were delivered out of Egypt, began another descent into idol worship following the death of Joshua. It became a frightening time of chaos for those who chose to continue to follow God.  

On Sunday, Pastor Tim shared with us the problem that we are afraid to do what God would have us do. Gideon, indeed, is a person who can help us realize that if God is with us, we do not need to be afraid.

In the midst of the chaos of his time, Gideon had fallen into a time of self-doubt and disillusionment. He was living his life in fear of what could happen, and struggled to believe what God had said to him. Often, we find ourselves living in this same frame of reference. It is important for us to look at how God interacted with Gideon to see a glimpse of how He desires to interact with us.

Then the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said: “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” Gideon said to Him, “Please Sir, if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened? And where are all His wonders that our fathers told us about? They said, ‘Hasn’t the Lord brought us out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to Midian.” –Judges 6:12-13

When the Angel of the Lord came to Gideon, it was not with pomp and circumstance—it was quietly and calmly in the place Gideon was working. Likewise, God often comes to us in the mundane. It is our responsibility to be aware of His presence. Our close relationship with God enables us to know that He is speaking to us and wanting to guide us.

God sees our potential. In the midst of the chaos of the world, God saw that Gideon had the potential to be a mighty warrior. This happened as Gideon walked in God’s guidance, and was cautiously obedient to God’s directions. We must be willing to take off the things that distort our vision of who God has created us to be. In 2 Corinthians 3:5, it says, “It is not that we are competent in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our competence is from God.”

God had an assignment for Gideon. God chose Gideon to lead the Israelites to victory over the Midianites. Through God, Gideon’s obedience led to victory. The question we must ask ourselves is what is the assignment God has given us, collectively and individually.  As we take courage and walk in each of our individual assignments, God will bless our lives and ministries. Zephaniah 3:17 shares this blessing from God:

Yahweh your God is among you,
A warrior who saves.
He will rejoice over you with gladness.
He will bring you quietness with His love.
He will delight in you with shouts of joy.

Living out the Message:

Take God at His Word
By Andrew Archer

On Sunday, Pastor Tim continued our series, Timeline. In this series, we are looking at some of the major points of Biblical history and how they all fit together, telling one unified story that points to Jesus. He shared about a chaotic time in Israel’s history in which they frequently abandoned God for worthless idols. When this happened God would allow other nations to carry out His judgement of them by attacking and overpowering them. This would lead them to turn back to God, and then God would raise someone up, a Judge, to lead and deliver Israel. Tim zeroed in on a specific Judge: Gideon. 

Gideon was an interesting man. He described his family as the weakest in all of Manasseh, and explained he was the youngest, implying that he was the weakest, in his family. When he is introduced in the narrative, he was hiding. This doesn’t sound like the kind of guy I want to lead my oppressed people in rebellion over my oppressors. He was not very courageous, and also struggled to believe what God had told Him. 

We see the Angel of the Lord came to Gideon and said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” Gideon didn’t believe Him. He questioned the Angel of the Lord. His belief in God was based more on His circumstances than what God said to be true. Sometimes the same can be true of us. We struggle to believe what God says to be true. Today I wanted to remind you of some of those things. 

If you have placed your faith in Christ as your Savior, God calls you:
• redeemed and forgiven of all of your sins (Colossians 1:13-14)
• free from condemnation (Romans 8:1-2)
a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)
• His child (John 1:12)
• God’s handiwork (poem) (Ephesians 2:10)
• free (Galatians 5:1)
• never alone (Matthew 28:20)
• loved (Romans 5:8)
• a citizen of Heaven (Philippians 3:20)
• more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37)
• the salt and light of the Earth (Matthew 5:31-14)
• an ambassador of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20)
• God’s co-worker (2 COrinthians 6:1)

My encouragement for you today is to take God at His word. Believe what He says about you. Memorize some or all of these passages of scripture and cling to the truth of who God says you are.

Timeline—Part 6 [Devotional]

Going Deeper with the Message:

The God Who Rescues Sinners
by: Andrew Archer 

From my experience, one of the most common and unfortunate misunderstandings I see in regards to Christianity has to do with perhaps the most important part—the Gospel. Many people tend to believe that we are saved by our good deeds; that if we are generally good people, we will be in heaven with God after we die. 

For most of us, we would consider ourselves as relatively good people. I mean, I’m no Mother Teresa, but I’m also not as bad as Hitler; I’m somewhere in the middle. So, because we wouldn’t put ourselves in the “evil” category, that means we must be “good” right? Well, this really begs a couple of questions. First, “how good is good enough?” And the second is tied to it: “if God is Holy and perfect, doesn’t that mean that we would have to be perfect as well?” You don’t need me to tell you this, but no one is perfect. 

When we look to God’s word, not only do we learn that His standard is perfection, but it also says that “There is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away; all alike have become worthless. There is no one who does what is good, not even one… All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10-12, 23 CSB). What Paul is telling us here is that God doesn’t grade on a curve. Everyone has fallen short of God’s standard, and because of that we are all in the same boat. You, me, Mother Teresa, and Hitler—none of us can earn our way into heaven by being good. Well, if God’s standard is perfection, and we can’t meet the standard, what is the solution? 

The good news and solution to our situation is what Tim shared this past Sunday. It is that God is able to rescue anyone—no one is beyond His reach. That includes us. We read later in Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This truth that God loves and wants to rescue sinners only truly begins to impact us when we realize that apart from God, that is who we are. We are all ones in desperate need of rescue, and that is precisely what God wants to —rescue us.

Living out the Message:

The Problem of Pride
By Michelle Lemley

We had a confusing evening in my house recently. My oldest son, who is 10, was having trouble making his bed. We have worked on it in the past, showing him how to line up the fitted sheet and pull it over each corner, then tuck in the flat sheet and cover it all with the pillow and comforter. But it was late, and he just couldn’t get it. My husband offered to help him, but he just sat and cried instead. 

I was so frustrated. Why couldn’t he just accept the help that he was being offered? Why was he being so stubborn? I know he didn’t want this job, but he had to do it before he could go to bed and he just couldn’t calm down and ask for help. He must have gotten that attitude from his father…

My sister-in-law has a theory about this behavior whenever we see it in any of our kids. She calls it a problem of pride. We spend so much time telling our kids what to do, that they just want to have a little independence, and they don’t want to accept that they don’t know how to do something; that they need help. 

I sometimes treat my kids like they are some sort of foreign, unknown beings. Their needs can be so confusing, and I feel like I don’t speak their language. It’s not until I step back and think about how I would react in their situation that I can start to understand, but this can be hard in the middle of the hustle and bustle. When they’re screaming about wanting a cookie, I have to calm myself down and think about what need is really not being met, and what’s causing their breakdown. Are they hungry? Feeling left out? Do they just need my attention? Is the problem of pride keeping them from asking for help?

Stepping back and recognizing that my children are just little people often causes me to reflect on my own needs, and to think about the reasons for my own feelings and behaviors. What is really causing me to feel frustrated, or keeping me from finishing a much needed task? Am I burdened by feelings of worry or inadequacy that are causing me to act out? And who can I turn to with these problems? There’s always one Heavenly Father who can help me no matter what. 

Join me this week in recognizing when I have a problem with pride; when I need help, even if it’s something that I think I should be able to handle on my own. Join me in turning to the Lord and His Word for guidance and reassurance, no matter how big (or small) the problem, and to accept the help that He offers. 

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ James 4:6

 

Timeline—Part 5 [Devotional]

Living out the Message:

Joy!
By Barb Barnhart

Joy is an emotion that can be seen on one’s face. Your face can’t help it! It helps to expose the treasure you hold in your heart. As we grow up, joy is seen in different ways. 

During the Preschool Family Experience on Sunday, the children were asked to pretend to be Peter walking on the water to Jesus. They were in a nice line walking a path from the boat to Jesus. Then someone (me) had the wonderful idea to turn on the bubble machine to represent the ocean waves. Some might say that pandemonium ensued…

They squealed and jumped.
They smiled and giggled.
The looks of wonder were on their faces.
The children could not contain their joy!
True joy can’t be contained or prescribed by adult perspectives. 

Pastor Tim was teaching on Sunday morning.  He was sharing about searching for the treasure found in God’s Word. This treasure of redemption is hidden throughout the Bible waiting for us to search and find it. As Pastor Tim taught, the smile on his face was evidence of the joy he has found in the treasure of Jesus, his Savior!

As you and I delve into this relationship with Jesus, studying God’s Word becomes a lifeline and a source of joy. Through prayer and Bible study, the joy of discovering the treasures of God becomes a part of who you are. Allow yourself the joy of a deeper relationship with Jesus, your Savior! Your face will thank you!

As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for You, God.–Psalm 42: 1