Psalms | Delight in the Lord

Psalms | Delight in the Lord

“Delight yourself in the Lord,

  and he will give you the desires of your heart.” [Psalms 37:4]

“Delight yourself in the Lord.” I feel like we may read this and feel like we have to force joy into our relationships with God. Or if we are looking at the entire verse, we may think we have to create delight in order to reach an end goal of receiving the desires of our hearts. But I don’t think that it’s like this at all.

I want you to think about the closest people in your life: a parent, a best friend, a mentor. Don’t you delight in them? You know them, and you love to learn more about them. You enjoy spending time with them. Even if it’s hard, you trust them to know the deepest parts of you. I think that this is what it means to “delight yourself in the Lord”. By spending time with Him and knowing Him and allowing Him to know you, you’ll grow deeper in relationship with Him. And when you grow in closeness with someone, you begin to delight in them! So, when we delight in the Lord, it’s really just growing in friendship and intimacy with Him. The delight will flow from that.


But what about that second part of the verse? When you spend time with someone, you begin to be more like them. Whenever I spend a lot of time with my mom, I’ll pick up on her little sayings that she says. I’ll spend time with my best friends, and I’ll try to learn more about the things that interest them because I want to connect with them in a way that is relatable to them. And it’s not that I lose myself in the process, but I just learn to relate to the people around me.

I think it’s the same with God. When we spend more and more time with God, we begin to love Him more. And when we love Him more, we begin to delight in the same things that He delights in. And the desires on our hearts match His. And I think this is true for the big and small things. Either way, I think that when we grow in relationship with Him, we want to match His desires and He wants to match ours, so they begin to draw closer together. And since God is God, we can trust that this is good.

So, in short, know God, trust God, and go after the desires on your heart hand in hand with a God, a friend, a Father who loves you a lot.

-Hannah

Pray

God, I want to know you more. Will You show me the desires of Your heart? Will You show me where You want to meet me in the midst of the desires of my heart? I just want to know You. Help me allow myself to open up myself to You so that You may know me. Thank You for being patient, gentle and kind. I love You! Amen.



Psalms | Be Still

Psalms | Be Still

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;

   I will be exalted among the nations,

   I will be exalted in the earth.” [Psalm 46:10]

We live in a very fast world. Everything is on a schedule. We are always connected to other people to technology. There is always something to be done. There is always more studying you could be doing. There is always someone you could hang out with. There is always another episode or movie to watch. There is always another picture to look at or post to read.

What if I sometimes chose to do nothing?

That might sound crazy, but what if we sometimes took time to simply be in our thoughts? What if we took intentional time to evaluate ourselves? What if we regularly reflected and turned inward, instead of always doing something outward?

Here is the problem that so many of us have: we don’t like what happens when we stay in our heads for an extended amount of time.

When we are quiet and still too long, we get anxious. When we are quiet and still too long, we get insecure. When we are quiet and still too long, we feel like we are losing control. But this Psalm says that when we are still, we should know that God is God. That is what should be on our mind when we are still, and turn inward.

Here’s the truth: if you love Jesus, you have the Holy Spirit inside of you. Whenever you turn inward into your thoughts and feelings, you have the opportunity to experience the living God within you. Instead of turning inward and feeling anxiety, you have the opportunity to tell God that you trust His faithfulness and not give yourself over to that anxiety. Instead of turning inward and feeling like you are wasting time, you can know that God loves you and wants to know you deeply. Everytime you choose to say no to DOING something, and say yes to REFLECTING inward, you give your soul the food that it needs to sustain.

To end you can pray the prayer below, but I also challenge you to at some point today bring yourself back to a similar prayer. At some point today you will have the opportunity to do something, and don’t get me wrong, doing things aren’t bad. But I want you to sacrifice doing something, at least for a few minutes, and let yourself turn inward towards your thoughts and feelings. Evaluate where you are and speak over yourself that God is God. He loves you deeply. He knows you deeply. He wants you to love Him deeply. He wants you to know him deeply. He has you.

-Nick


Pray

Father, thank you for being God so I no longer need to have everything figured out. Thank you for knowing me intimately. I give you the things in my life that give me anxiety. I give you the things in my life that make me fearful. Thank you for being safe. I trust you. Amen.



Psalms | God's Forgiveness

Psalms | God's Forgiveness

“As far as the east is from the west,

  so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” [Psalm 103:12]

What can we know about God’s forgiveness?

God’s forgiveness covers everything.

Yes, everything. When we choose to accept and believe Jesus for who the Bible says He is, we receive the fullness of what He did on the cross. The cross covers everything we have ever done. If you have been a Christian for a while, this can seem like old news. However, I think that many of us don’t live from that place of believing we are truly forgiven and pure in the eyes of God. How many of us profess to be Christians but live daily under the heavy hand of condemnation? The voice inside your head that says you haven’t done enough, that you aren’t enough, that you’re brokenness and sin is enough to keep you from God is not God. That is the enemy. The enemy would love to keep you from entering into intimacy with the Father. The biggest thing condemnation steals from us is an intimate relationship with Jesus. However, the truth is that Jesus is the only one who can convince us that the voice that says all of those things is a lie. His word and His truth through the Bible have the power to break the chains of condemnation.


If you are feeling the weight of condemnation today, I would encourage you to read through Romans 8 and declare some of the truths of that chapter over yourself today. I will start you with the first verse because it is so good.

“1 So now the case is closed. There remains no accusing voice of condemnation against those who are joined in life-union with Jesus, the Anointed One.”

I love the way that The Passion Translation states this verse. The case against you is closed! It was finished on the cross. You are forgiven and nothing you do can change that.

Because we have the Holy Spirit within us, We can extend God’s forgiveness to those who wrong us.

Sometimes this truth can be a hard pill for us to follow. When wronged or faced with injustice, our flesh screams vengeance. I think though that if we really believe and know the heart of God it becomes so easy to forgive. We can believe that no matter how deeply someone wounds us or hurts us, God will not do that to us. He sees all of our hurts and He meets us in those. He is comforter and He is redeemer. He is the only one who can empower us to forgive.

It’s also important to remember that If we want and desire mercy for ourselves then we should also want that for the people around us. We cannot truly ask God to forgive us but then hold others to an impossible standard that even God does not hold them to. We can not cry out mercy when it comes to ourselves and then turn around and shout justice for everyone else. We can not be the only one who does not get what we truly deserve. It is in the goodness and kindness of God that none of get what we deserve but what God desired for us, which is relationship with Him. I am not saying that there is not consequences for missteps and bad behavior. There is and there are boundaries, but ultimately when we live in unforgiveness we are imprisoning ourselves.

If you are struggling to forgive or believe that you are forgiven, that is okay. Forgiveness often times looks like a process over time of surrendering a person, relationship, or situation to God. Ask Him to come meet you. Ask Him to keep your heart soft and help you. I believe as we seek His help and comfort He empowers us to do the impossible.

-Natalie

Let’s Pray.

God, thank you that I am forgiven. I am yours and you see me as pure and clean. I am always allowed to come into your presence no matter what I have done. Thank you that with you I can forgive the people who have hurt me most. I pray that you would keep my heart soft and open to your voice. Empower me to forgive the way that you have forgiven. Amen.



Psalms | God's Protection

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Psalms | God's Protection

Let the sunrise of your love end our dark night.

Break through our clouded dawn again!

Only you can satisfy our hearts,

filling us with songs of joy to the end of our days.

We’ve been overwhelmed with grief;

come now and overwhelm us with gladness.

Replace our years of trouble with decades of delight. [Psalm 90:14-15]

Psalm 40, as a whole, exists to uplift Christians during their lives on Earth. You can read the whole psalm here. Leading up to the verses above, the psalm is kind of drawing a line between life on earth and the fullness of heaven. It contrasts the nature of the world with the nature of God. The Psalmist is recounting the difficulties and the challenges that come along with being human.

At first glance, this entire Psalm is interesting to read because it almost seems discouraging at first because it talks about the brevity of life, the harshness of Earth, and all of that stuff. When you read it over again and apply some context, it becomes something really encouraging!

A lot of super smart scholars believe that this Psalm is shadowing the story of Moses in Exodus 32. In fact, some scholars believe Moses is the author of Psalm 90. Exodus 32 is one of the first examples of intercession in the Bible. Intercession is basically a fancy way to describe prayer that is on behalf of someone/something else. It’s really important in Exodus because God was angry with His people because they were worshipping false idols. Even after He had faithfully led them through the desert, they lost faith when they were waiting for Moses to come down from Mount Sinai. When God became angry, Moses interceded for the Israelites and asked God to have mercy on them. And guess what? The Lord did have mercy on them. Moses’ prayers were impactful.

So when this Psalm says things like “Break through our clouded dawn again!” it is actually a form of intercession. Why is that important?

Because God Listens and Responds

The Psalmist here is petitioning for God to make our lives on Earth look more like Heaven. He is asking for God to make his reality our reality. This is sweet because God, by nature, wants good things for us. He desires for us to live in abundance (read John 10 if you wanna know more about that). The Psalmist also recognizes that the pathway from our grief and suffering to fullness and joy is God. This Psalm illustrates that one of the best ways we can experience the things of God is to ask for them.

When your prayer life develops, your intimacy and friendship with God grows exponentially. As you are reading through this series, a good exercise would be to pray through the Psalms. Taking the time to talk to God and process through what you read is one really beneficial way to deepen your relationship with God.

-Sarah S.


Pray


Hey God! God, I thank you for the way you have been speaking and responding to your people. Help Psalm 90 to mark my life and my prayers. Increase my faith in you and your faithfulness. Amen.


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Psalms | God's Strength

Psalms | God's Strength

“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, through the earth should change And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.” [Psalm 46:1-3]


Every one of us have gone through difficult struggles or situations. I have heard it said that we’re all either going into a storm, currently in a storm, or coming out of a storm. Difficulties are a part of life. In the above verses, we learn that we don't have to fear our problems, but we can trust God throughout them.


SO WHAT?

Verse one calls God a refuge and strength. It says that He is a present help. He is close to us when we are going through tough times. Be encouraged by this! Whenever I go through trouble, I find it easy to focus more on my problems than on God. I think it can be very easy (as bad as it may sound) to forget about God and try to solve my problems without His support. God is very present. He is close by and wants to give us strength. Because of this, we don't have to fear anything. Times may be difficult, but the God of the universe is on our side. He loves you and me, and He died for us. How much more will He support us in discomfort? Even though things happen that may be out of our control, we can trust God because He is unchanging. Our circumstances change, but He never does. He is good, He loves you, and He is never going to lead you astray. We can trust Him.


RESPOND

  1. What sort of “trials” are you facing right now?

  2. Where is God in these “trials”?

  3. How can you increase your trust in God?

-Avery

PRAY

Father, thank You for who You are. Thank You that I can trust You. You are my refuge and strength in times of trouble. Show me where You are in my situation. May I recognize and seek You in both good times and bad. I love You. I trust You. Amen.


Psalms | God's Lantern

Psalms | God's Lantern

“Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light to my path.” [Psalm 119:105]

Think of Jesus the Good Shepherd. How does He lead His sheep? It says in John 10:4, “his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” Jesus leads us by His words. So how else will you follow God’s path for you life unless you know His voice and His words? Well, you can’t. That’s why the Psalmist describes here God’s word as a lamp and a light. Because without it, it’s like stumbling in the dark. If we don’t know what God’s words are, if we don’t know the Gospel, then we are no better than a blind man trying to cross a 5 lane highway.

You will never walk the path in life God has laid out for you unless you know His word. Now when I say His word I don’t mean just knowing the Bible. I’m talking about knowing His character. What are the things that only God would say to us? There are so many counterfeit voices out there that we have to learn what the real thing is. Do you know how cashiers are trained to detect counterfeit money? It’s not by studying counterfeits, it’s by studying the real dollar bill. It’s only when you know the real thing that you can tell what’s fake.

So know God’s word isn’t just knowing the Bible, but it absolutely does start with knowing the Bible. The Bible is the only book in the world that’s stood the test of 1,000’s of years, kingdoms and countries rising and falling, yet it still proves true. The Bible isn’t fake. God’s voice isn’t fake. How are we to navigate this life without knowing the one Bible that God has given to His Church so that we might still be able to read His stories and testimonies? We do not make the Bible an idol. We hold it in reverence, yes. But it’s not about knowing the Bible just for the sake of knowing a book. We seek the Author of the book rather than the book itself. The Bible is the Author’s gift to us. An entry point to knowing Him. I only want to know the Bible to the extent that I want to know God. I want to know my Creator. That’s why I read the Bible.

And as you read the stories of Jesus and understand the kind of man He was and the kind of God He is, you ask Him to speak to you personally. Heck, wherever you are right now, ask Him to speak to you. He might speak to you through your thoughts, another person, a crazy coincidence or maybe even the Bible… but the point is that He is faithful to speak to you if you seek Him. In fact, He is speaking to you. We’re just hard of hearing. He is the light leading us on. We just have to train our eyes to see Him and our ears to hear Him. Ask Him to light the way and He will. No caveats. Ask Him to show you the well-lit path and He will do it.

-Adam


Psalms | Waiting on the Lord

Psalms | Waiting on the Lord

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord,” [Psalm 27:13-14]


Waiting on the Lord

Even though David was anointed king at age 16, he waited to officially step into that role at age 30.  In the process of waiting over 15 years, he encountered numerous trials that were probably discouraging, disheartening, and disappointing.  Yet David didn’t lose his courage, his heart, or his appointing. Reread that verse. David knew that despite his sufferings at the time, God would show up and come through. He had an unwavering confidence that was not shaken or destroyed by life’s difficulties. David was determined to see the Lord’s goodness in his life here on this earth. The land of the living isn’t in some fantasy world; it’s right here, right now.

Why are we asked to wait?

Lamentations 3:24-25 says, “I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’ The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him.”  


Lamentations, written by Jeremiah, is know as the book of tears. Throughout the whole book, Jeremiah is basically weeping over the destruction of Jerusalem. He was convinced that the Lord would make Himself known him, because he sought him. Both David and Jeremiah went through seasons of waiting. The most important thing to understand about waiting, though, is that is doesn’t have to be in vain. These two men developed an amazing relationship with the Lord in their waiting. They talked with Him about what they were experiencing. They were vulnerable and real with the Lord, expressing how they truly felt about their current situations. This type of relationship with God creates an intimacy that doesn’t always come with life is all rainbows and unicorns. If we chose to emulate David’s confidence in the Lord, our waiting would turn into abundant blessings.  

We learn in the waiting.

We depend in the waiting.

We surrender control in the waiting.

We discover in the waiting.

The Lord’s goodness shows up in our waiting. When we wait, we have the opportunity to entrust more of ourselves to the Lord. We learn more about God’s character when we seek Him out.  He teaches us patience and gratitude. Our dependence on Him increases as we begin to understand that we are not called to be self-sufficient or self-reliant. As difficult as it is, we sacrifice our need to control our circumstances when we wait. We find that it’s actually better to partner with God and let Him do His thing than try to run our own lives. And we discover a lot about ourselves in the waiting. We become more aware of our intentions and beliefs when we don’t see immediate answers.

So be strong and take heart. Be confident that the Lord is good and that you will see His goodness play out. Continually invite God into your waiting. He’s willing and eager to show up.


-KB

Pray

God, thank you for who You are. Thank you for being good all the time, for Your consistency and Your steadfastness. Thank you for never changing your character, or for changing your mind about me. When I am in a season of waiting, God, I ask that you increase my dependency upon you. Give me strength and hope to trust you more and more each moment. God I praise You in the waiting. Amen.


Women of the Bible | Mary of Bethany

Women of the Bible | Mary of Bethany

“As Jesus and  his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed - or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.’” [Luke 10:38-42]

When I read about this encounter Jesus had with Mary and Martha, it is always one that makes me stop and have a quick reality check on the way that I spend my time. Before I go into this passage and the meaning behind it I want to compare the two different people in the story, and I want you to think about which person you might tend to be more like, and who you want to become.

Martha

Sweet Martha was so excited about JESUS coming to her very own house that she went in panic mode trying to make everything PERFECT. While Jesus was sitting and visiting with them, I can imagine that Martha was running all around the house trying to clean, and cook, and make all preparations and get everything done to make Jesus happy. She was so frustrated at Mary for not helping with all the preparations that needed to be done. Finally she couldn’t bare to see her sister doing nothing any longer so she complained to Jesus asking Him to say something about it…

But how does this relate to our life today? Well, how many times have you missed out on people, opportunities, and Jesus Himself because you were running around crazy trying to reach perfection? Martha wasn’t necessarily doing anything bad, she was caught in busyness and because of that she missed the prize that was in front of her.

Mary

Then on the other hand, we have Mary who just simply sat at Jesus’ feet. She dropped everything she had going on. She probably could have cooked or cleaned or tried impressing Jesus with the things she had, but she knew none of that mattered. Mary knew that the best thing she could possibly offer was herself, even if her house was messy, and she had things that could have been worked on.

I think it is safe to say that we could almost always come up with distractions to keep ourselves busy, which is why what Mary did was so significant. I don’t know about you, but for me personally it bothers me when I am talking to someone and they are barely paying attention, and you can tell they are thinking about other things. It means a lot to me when people give me their full focus when I am talking with someone because it shows that they care about what I am saying. That is exactly what Mary did with Jesus and how we should be too. When you spend time with Jesus, it is so crucial that we give Him our full time and attention because He deserves that and so much more. Don’t come to Jesus half- hearted or squeezing Him into your busy tasks that need to be accomplished. Sit with him, like Mary, and enjoy His company, and what you’ll experience is far greater than any distraction you can think of.

Let’s Get Practical

So I am not telling you to quit school, stop working, and never clean your room (ew) just so that you can spend time with Jesus. He wants you to do things and to be social with His people! But take a moment to have a reality check on areas that you act like Martha does to Jesus and waste your time with Him occupied by small and meaningless things that can be done at other times? What are ways you can be more like Mary? What do you need to lay aside so you can fully be present when you spend time with Jesus.

Like Mary, give your entire self before God. Sit at his feet and enjoy his presence. You don’t have to fix yourself or your situation before coming to him. He sees you. He knows you. And he wants you more than anything.

-Macie

Pray

Lord, help me to be like Mary when I come to You. Show me how to come before you and give you my entire time and attention and to enjoy that. Protect my mind from distractions and busyness when I am with You. Help me be still. I love You, Lord. Amen.

Women of the Bible | Mary, Mother of Jesus

Women of the Bible | Mary, Mother of Jesus

Afterward, Mary arose and hurried off to the hill country of Judea, to the village where Zechariah and Elizabeth lived. Arriving at their home, Mary entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the moment she heard Mary’s voice, the baby within Elizabeth’s womb jumped and kicked. And suddenly, Elizabeth was filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit! With a loud voice she prophesied with power:

“Mary! You are a woman given the highest favor

   and privilege above all others.

   For your child is destined to bring God great delight.

How did I deserve such a remarkable honor

   to have the mother of my Lord come and visit me?

The moment you came in the door and greeted me,

   my baby danced inside me with ecstatic joy!

Great favor is upon you, for you have believed

   every word spoken to you from the Lord.”

And Mary sang this song:

   “My soul is ecstatic, overflowing with praises to God!

My spirit bursts with joy over my life-giving God!

For he set his tender gaze upon me, his lowly servant girl.

   And from here on, everyone will know

   that I have been favored and blessed.

The Mighty One has worked a mighty miracle for me;

   holy is his name!

Mercy kisses all his godly lovers,

   from one generation to the next.

Mighty power flows from him

   to scatter all those who walk in pride.

Powerful princes he tears from their thrones

   and he lifts up the lowly to take their place.

Those who hunger for him will always be filled,

   but the smug and self-satisfied he will send away empty.

Because he can never forget to show mercy,

   he has helped his chosen servant, Israel,

Keeping his promises to Abraham

   and to his descendants forever.”

Before going home, Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months.

Luke 1:39-56 TPT


As far as women in the Bible go, Mary is definitely among the most iconic. She is revered as a woman who responded bravely to God’s call for her life. Her willingness to be obedient is a foundational thing in the faith of many. What I want to focus on, however, is this moment that Mary finds herself in in Luke, directly after the angel Gabriel came to Mary and told her she would be the mother of Jesus.

Immediately after she finds out the news, Mary goes to Judea, where her distant cousin and friend Elizabeth lives. At the time, Elizabeth was pregnant with John the Baptist. Elizabeth, like Mary, had conceived under miraculous circumstances, because of her old age. Because Mary was aware that Elizabeth was in a similar position, she immediately sought her counsel.

This is a really important illustration of community in the Bible. Sometimes it can seem easier to bear our burdens alone, because it can feel like you’re inconveniencing people when you ask for their help. But here, we see one of the most important figures in the Bible go seek help from a friend. And you know what happens when she does? God speaks. Mary had not even had a chance to tell Elizabeth what was going on before Elizabeth started to prophesy and encourage her. Elizabeth, because of her relationship with God, was able to affirm a lot of things in Mary. Mary even stayed with her for an extended amount of time so that she could learn from her and be encouraged by her.

Honestly, that is a really beautiful picture of women supporting women in the Bible. The picture that we see of friendship and mentorship can be projected onto our lives today. I believe this is one reason that Freshley small groups are so great. People come in and immediately have access to people a little bit older and a little bit wiser than them. It’s one reason we hope that everyone signs up for discipleship after their freshman year. We want for people to have access to somebody who can support them, uplift them, and listen to them.

Hear me say this: it is not selfish to seek out someone to mentor you. In fact, it’s actually really healthy. It’s also a beautiful thing to step into that role yourself, whether as a prayer leader or a small group leader or something else. We are designed for connection. It’s why people like Mary seek out someone to walk alongside them!!

-Sarah S.


Pray

God, help me to be a friend like Elizabeth. Help me to have the courage to ask people for help, and to let them know where I am really at. Release community over UGA and open people’s hearts to the people around them. Amen.

Women of the Bible | Mary Magdalene

Women of the Bible | Mary Magdalene

“Soon afterward, Jesus began a ministry tour throughout the country, visiting cities and villages to announce the wonderful news of God’s kingdom realm. His twelve disciples traveled with him and also a number of women who had been healed of many illnesses under his ministry and set free from demonic power. Jesus had cast out seven demons from one woman. Her name was Mary Magdalene, for she was from the village of Magdala. Among the women were Susanna and Joanna, the wife of Chusa, who managed King Herod’s household. Many other women who supported Jesus’ ministry from their own personal finances also traveled with him.” [Luke 8:1-3]

Mary arrived back at the tomb, broken and sobbing. She stooped to peer inside, and through her tears she saw two angels in dazzling white robes, sitting where Jesus’ body had been laid—one at the head and one at the feet! “Dear woman, why are you crying?” they asked.

Mary answered, “They have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve laid him.” Then she turned around to leave, and there was Jesus standing in front of her, but she didn’t realize that it was him!

He said to her, “Dear woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?” Mary answered, thinking he was only the gardener, “Sir, if you have taken his body somewhere else, tell me, and I will go and . . .”

“Mary,” Jesus interrupted her. Turning to face him, she said, “Rabboni!” (Aramaic for “my teacher”)

Jesus cautioned her, “Mary, don’t hold on to me now, for I haven’t yet ascended to God, my Father. And he’s not only my Father and God, but now he’s your Father and your God! Now go to my brothers and tell them what I’ve told you, that I am ascending to my Father—and your Father, to my God—and your God!”

Then Mary Magdalene left to inform the disciples of her encounter with Jesus. “I have seen the Lord!” she told them. And she gave them his message. [John 20:11-18]

The story of Mary Magdalene is so beautiful in so many ways. In her, we see a woman go from being tormented by seven demons to freedom to a close intimate relationship with Jesus. But far more than a beautiful story of redemption and freedom, her story actually has so many practical implications for us.

Freedom breeds intimacy. We talk about freedom a lot around here. We pray to be freed from anxiety and depression and fear and many other things. Jesus definitely does not want these things to be a part of our lives, but I think it is important to remember that the whole point of freedom is Jesus.

Freedom is not only the absence of the negative. It must involve the presence of Jesus. If Mary were to be set free of her demons but never have entered into a relationship with Jesus, her story would not have been complete. She needed to know Him. She needed to invite him to fill the space left there. If you are seeking freedom to no avail, it could be beneficial to change your perspective. I have found that as you make Jesus the biggest priority, those good things will come. Peace. Love. Joy. Acceptance. And so many others.

Jesus always meets us when we need Him. This would probably be the biggest take away from Mary’s story for me. Jesus came to Mary when she needed him most, even though these were very different moments in her life. She didn’t even know this Jesus. She only knew that she was tormented. Jesus came to her. He set her free and brought her into his fold. The second time she was heartbroken by the death of her teacher. In her despair, Jesus revealed Himself to her and came to her. He revealed the Father to her and told her to go bare witness. He trusted her with His witness. It doesn’t matter if you are just beginning a relationship with Jesus or you are old friends, Jesus is so faithful to meet us. Always.

Ask Jesus to meet you today. What area do you need him the most? Ask him to come close. Ask him to redeem and restore. Ask him to help you make Him the most important thing. It is clear to me that for Mary, Jesus was the most important thing to her. She was sold out and fully surrendered to Him and look at all of the ways that He blessed her and came to her.

-Natalie

Let’s Pray

God, I thank You that You come close. Thank You that You redeem and restore me. I pray that as I seek You and get to know You, there would be even more freedom in my life. I pray that in whatever I face, Your nearness would be the most overwhelming thing to me. Would you make me like Mary, fully surrendered and in love with You. Amen.

Women of the Bible | Martha

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Women of the Bible | Martha

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. [John 12:1-3]

In this story Mary chose what was most likely her most expensive possession, and POURED IT OUT on Jesus’ feet. Imagine taking a $100 bill and lighting it on fire. Imagine going to your favorite restaurant, (nah, not Chick-fil-a, but somewhere super swanky) getting your food, and throwing it straight in the trash. Imagine getting some awesome new clothes and a few days later cutting them to pieces. That’s what Mary did. To the person from the outside looking in, she was just wasting a ton of expensive perfume by rubbing it around WITH HER HAIR on the feet of some guy. But for Mary, this meant something.

What Mary did here signifies two things. One, is that Jesus is worthy of our love. What preceded this action was Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Pretty insane story if you ask me. This is Mary’s response to what Jesus did for her. We can relate that pretty easily to our lives. When is the last time you let yourself be reminded of what Jesus did for you on the cross? When is the last time you reflected on what Jesus is doing in your life right now? Take a few minutes and let yourself be reminded of who you know Jesus to be. Think about how He is active in your life right now.

This story also reveals that our love towards Jesus is best represented in action. Mary could have easily told Jesus how much she loved him, but instead she chose to SHOW Jesus how much she loved Him. Loving God might sound a little weird. We normally talk a lot about us receiving God’s love, but we rarely talk about what it means for us to love God in return. In any healthy relationship, as love is given, love is also reciprocated. So what does it mean for you to show God that you love Him? Your first response might be “by sharing the Gospel with people”. While that’s definitely not a bad answer, I want to propose that one of the best ways you can show you love God is by spending time with Him. By reading a blog like this on a regular basis. By turning your thoughts to Him throughout the day and letting Him know what is on your mind and heart. I think God would prefer to know you because you choose to talk to Him about things, not just because He is omniscient and knows everything already.

To end, look up a verse or passage in the Bible you know well or connect with. If you don’t have one in mind, just read the chapter leading up to John 12, the story we just read. As you read, take note of what sticks out to you. It might be one or two things, but don’t feel pressured to read a ton. Sit on those one or two things and ask yourself what it reveals about you, what it reveals about Jesus, and what should you do because of it. In your mind (or out loud if you’re feeling up to it) tell God what you are thinking. Guess what? You just showed God you loved him by spending time with Him. Amen!

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Women of the Bible | Ruth

Women of the Bible | Ruth

Ruth fell at his feet and thanked him warmly. “What have I done to deserve such kindness?” she asked. “I am only a foreigner.”

“Yes, I know,” Boaz replied. “But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers. May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.” [Ruth 2:10-12]

How often do we feel like we have to earn people’s recognition? How often do we feel like whether or not we are in the spotlight determines whether or not we are seen? Or how often do we let whether or not we are seen inherently decide whether or not we are worthy? I think these are things that we all struggle with at different times and in different capacities.

It can be so easy to give into the lie that we have to earn attention in order to be truly seen and truly loved. However, the story of Ruth actually teaches us a different truth–—a truth that we are encouraged to make our reality.

In the Kingdom, there is this interesting tension in that when we humble ourselves, we actually find God lifting us high. And it’s not that we go low for the glory of being lifted high. Rather, when we go low in actual humility and out of a love for God and for others, God can’t help but to lift us up. It’s His nature; it’s what He does.

In the book of Ruth, we see Ruth give up everything (and never for her own gain). She gives up the possibility of living in her homeland with her family. She gives up her pride when she goes and picks up scraps of grains out of fields. She gives it all up out of love for God and love for Naomi.

However, God shows up on Ruth’s behalf. He provides her food, drink, a husband, financial security. When she walked out humility, God responded in an abundant love.

This principle is not limited to this one circumstance either. This is a pattern shown over and over in the Bible. Jesus Himself acknowledges this saying that those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Now, I you might be like me and get worried that you’ll be acting humble just to be lifted high. However, I think if your intentions are love and not for the glory, you’ll know. You may have to have a very honest conversation with God and with yourself about your intentions behind your actions. But love will always produce humility and humility will always lead to love put into action. So, don’t worry so much about humility; rather, worry about love, and I think other things will fall into place for you.

What now?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Where am I acting out of pride instead of humility?

  • What would it look like for me to love others in this situation instead of walking in pride?

  • What is one step I can take today to walk in humility?

Be real with yourself! And just give way to humility because that’s where I truly think you’ll find the most joy!

-Hannah

Pray

God, I repent for where I have done things in Your name but for my own benefit. God, I pray that You will give me a heart of true love that will lead me to true love. Thank You that you want to lift me up and that your heart for me is to walk in humility yet walk in celebration at the same time. You are SO good. I love You!!!!! Amen.

Women of the Bible | Hannah

Women of the Bible | Hannah

“For this boy I prayed, and the Lord has given me my petition which I asked of Him. So I have also dedicated him to the Lord; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the Lord. And he worshiped the Lord there.” [1 Samuel 1:27-28]

WHAT’S GOING ON?

Hannah was a woman in distress. The first few chapters of 1 Samuel are fascinating and have to do with Hannah’s petition to God. She was barren and had not been able to have kids. Because of the culture she was in, this was a huge deal. She was ridiculed and seen as somewhat useless because of her inability to have children. This became too much for her to bear. She asked God for a child, and He gave her Samuel. Upon giving birth to Samuel, Hannah dedicated Him to the Lord, and he grew up serving in the temple. Hannah gave up the son God had given her. She gave him back to the Lord because her love for God was greater than even her obvious want for a child.

SO WHAT?

What can we learn from Hannah? She painfully wanted something. Hannah said that she was “oppressed in spirit” because she was so anxious for a child. Once God gave her this desire, she sacrificed her right to the boy as a sacrifice to God. In her gratitude, she dedicated Samuel to God and he grew up working in the temple. I think it’s interesting to point out Hannah's response to God. Chapter 2 includes a famous passage of scripture called “The Song of Hannah.” Hannah sings this song as worship to God. Her response to God moving in her life is worship. Is this our natural response to God? What has God given you, and where has He moved in your life? What was your response when these things happened? The book of Romans calls us to “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, for this is your spiritual act of worship.” Sacrifice involves surrendering something to God in order to yield our wants to His desires.

RESPOND: Ask yourself these questions

  1. What is God calling you to sacrifice?

  2. What role does worship have in your life?

  3. What steps can you take to surrender more of your life to God?

-Avery

PRAY

Father, thank You for who You are. Thank you for all that You have done for me. May my response to You be worship. Show me what I can sacrifice and surrender to You. May my life be a living sacrifice to You. Teach me what this means. I love You. Amen.


Women of the Bible | Esther

Women of the Bible | Esther

“On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. Then the king asked, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.” [Esther 5:1-3 NIV]


The backstory to this scripture is found in Esther 4:11 where it says “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives.” Esther was breaking the law and putting her life on the line in order to save the Jewish people. She was fully willing to lose her life for her people but also fully expectant that God would give her favor with the king.

In what area of your life do you need to live more like Esther? Esther wasn’t in denial. She was fully aware that going before the king could cost her life. But she believed in the promise of God’s favor and protection so much more that she was willing to do it anyway. It takes real courage to face circumstances in our lives that seem to have no good possible outcome. It takes faith to actually step towards them. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” When you can’t see any way to victory on your own, faith says God can make a way for you.

My sophomore year of college was marked by depression. Deep depression. To the point that I wouldn’t want to get out of bed most mornings because I couldn’t see any purpose in it. I tried and tried to pull myself out of it, but it’s impossible to rescue yourself if you’re stuck in the bottom of a pit. I sought all these different things for hope. Other people, school, internships, the list went on. But it wasn’t until God sent me to Maine for a summer, an opportunity I had no idea even existed, that He delivered me from depression and showed me how deeply He loved me.

During my sophomore year, there were some really gut-wrenching days that left me feeling hopeless. But the one thing I could always find the strength to do was to pray and read my Bible. Honestly, I was just hoping God would speak something to me. Anything. I can’t point to a single day that year that God broke in and intervened in my life. Like Esther, I couldn’t see any way out of where I was at, but I went before the king anyways. There was a conviction inside of me that knew God was my only way out.

When you look at your life what are the things that only God can provide a way out from? It could be depression, anxiety, hopelessness, addiction. I can go ahead and tell you that you won’t find the solution in anything apart from God. Go to Him. Go to Him again. Go to Him again and again and again. As many times as it takes, because I promise you that He’s listening. And you can be confident in His favor and protection on your life is stronger than the impossibility in front of you.

-Adam

Pray

God, we want to boldly approach You like Esther boldly approached the king. Even when we can’t see a way out, we still want to come to You. Please give me a fresh revelation of how approachable You are. Please give me an awareness of the ways that You fight for me and love me. I want to receive Your love and favor, Jesus. You are stronger than my circumstances. Amen.


Women of the Bible | Deborah

Women of the Bible | Deborah

“Certainly I will go with you,” said Deborah. “But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the LORD will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. [Judges 4:9]

Meet Deborah.

Deborah was a prophetess in Israel.  She was the only female judge mentioned in the Bible.  The Israelites went to her when they needed disputes decided.  She was extremely wise. Wife of Japidoth, she considered herself a mother to Israel.  In this story, Deborah embraces a special leadership position. She hears the Lord tell her to tell Barak, an Israelite commander, to go to battle with their oppressors of 20 years, the Cannanites led by Jabin.

In Judges 4:9, Deborah is responding to Barak’s request that she accompany him as they go into battle.  She agrees, explaining that this battle and its victory will look a little different than the usual battle.  She will receive the honor from the Lord, because He chose to speak directly to her in this story. It goes without saying that it was not a common thing for women to hold significant leadership positions back in the day.  But this story in Judges 4 communicates the heart of God and His ability to empower all of His children to expand His kingdom.

So under commander, Barak, and our fearless leader, Deborah, they take ten thousand men to Mount Tabor. And, spoiler alert… the Israelites win. Sisera, the commander of the Cannanites, got straight scared. He literally got off his chariot and fled by foot.  All of his troops fell and Barak’s army won.

God Goes Before You

I think one of the coolest things about this story is Deborah’s confidence.  When the two opposing armies stood face to face, right before battle, Deborah told Barak at the front lines, “Go! This is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the Lord gone ahead of you?” (verse 14).

I can’t get over this declaration.  Deborah believed with her whole heart that the Lord was going before ahead of them in battle.  Her faith and confidence that God fought for them and with them is so so evident in this verse.  She didn’t hesitate to say “Go!” because she knew the Lord’s faithfulness to show up, stay put, and and come through.  The moment we fully believe that God always goes before us, no matter what we’re experiencing, is when we act from a place of confidence.  It makes no sense for Deborah and Barak to be so confident in their army. And that’s because they aren’t dependent upon their army.  They are confident in the Lord, and depend upon His strength only.  

In chapter 5, Deborah and Barak sing a song about their victory over the Cannanites.  In verse 7, Deborah said, “Villagers in Israel would not fight; they held back until I, Deborah, arose, until I arose, a mother in Israel.” Deborah understood that the Israelites were timid and needed a strong, steadfast leader. Deborah was strong and steadfast, and her character is no different than yours.  Her confidence in the Lord is just wait the Israelites needed.

While writing this, I took a quick Instagram break (oops?) and stopped to read a post from Mike Maeshiro, a writer, speaker and “spirit coach,” as his Insta bio says.  When I went out to Bethel Church in California with Wesley last year for spring break, our team had to privilege of learning from him. He’s super awesome. Anyway, his post said this:

“Every human being is brave.  God doesn’t create cowards.  We all come into this world trusting, hopeful, and brave.”

With so many voices telling us who we are and who we aren’t, we have to choose God’s voice over all the overs.  Deborah knew God. She knew that He enabled her, gave her strength, and gave her boldness when she asked for it.  Being a judge and prophetess, Deborah fully trusted that the Lord spoke to her, and would be with her at all times.  Her choice to trust help lead the Israelites into 40 years of freedom from captivity. Deborah is just one example of a powerful leader.  Each one of us is called to embrace the courage and bravery that Deborah embraced.

-KB

Pray

God, thank You for the story of Deborah and her leadership.  Come and be the only one I trust. Help me to believe that I am confident, able and brave.  I want to know You better so I can know me better. And thank You for being with me at the front lines of everything I face.  Give me the strength to fight my battles with You, knowing that You always go before me. Amen.

Old Testament Stories | Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

Old Testament Stories | Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.

...

Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. [Daniel 3:17-18; 28]

In this passage, we read the account of King Nebuchadnezzar erecting a massive golden image in Babylon for all people to worship. It was a display of power, wealth, and superiority, and all people were commanded to bow down or face the penalty of death. However, there were three Jewish officials who disobeyed these orders out of faithfulness to God. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into a furnace to die, but God redeemed them and the situation in a way only God could.

We can take this story, read it in amazement, and move on, but we would miss how personal God wants to take this message to you. Whenever you read scripture and you see God do something, you are seeing part of His character revealed. We see here that God is a deliverer, a redeemer, all powerful, and faithful to His people. It’s not just a crazy story; this is the character of God being shown.

One phrase rocked me when I read it, “the God we serve is able.” These three men of God believed to their core that God could and would supernaturally deliver them. I look at my anxieties and my worries and my fears, and honestly they are signs to me that I don’t actually trust God deep enough to find my peace in him rather than my circumstances. If I actually believed God would guide my life, why would I worry about my future? He’s got me. He’s got you. And He’s the God who is able to deliver you and help you.

Lastly, as we read the passage for today, I noticed that these three men of God said that even if God did not deliver them, they would refuse to worship the image of gold. The reason this stands out to me is because so frequently I find myself having a circumstantial faith. Meaning, I believe God is good because good things are happening in life. However, for these three men, they were dedicated to obey God even in the world where God might not supernaturally intervene.

-Tim

Pray

I pray for us that we become people who believe that the God we serve is able. I pray this truth affects the way we live our lives and the way we think. Lord, we ask that you increase our faith in who you are. Amen


Old Testament Stories | Daniel in the Lion's Den

Old Testament Stories | Daniel in the Lion's Den

A stone slab was placed over the opening of the den. The king sealed the cover with his signet ring and the signet rings of all his nobles, fixing Daniel’s fate. The king then went back to his palace. He refused supper. He couldn’t sleep. He spent the night fasting. At daybreak the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. As he approached the den, he called out anxiously, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve so loyally, saved you from the lions?”

“O king, live forever!” said Daniel. “My God sent his angel, who closed the mouths of the lions so that they would not hurt me. I’ve been found innocent before God and also before you, O king. I’ve done nothing to harm you.”

When the king heard these words, he was happy. He ordered Daniel taken up out of the den. When he was hauled up, there wasn’t a scratch on him. He had trusted his God.

[Daniel 6:17-23 The Message]

First things first, here’s some context for this story. The entire book of Daniel was written about Daniel, a prophet, and his fellow exiles. The book takes place after the first Babylonian attack on Jerusalem. Daniel and his friends were taken captive and escorted to the palace of the Babylonian king. They are put into a position where they have to assimilate to their captor’s culture and learn how to live, while simultaneously maintaining their faith. The book is full of challenges and stories of triumph. Daniel 6, in particular, recounts how Daniel’s peers and subordinates get really jealous of him because he has found favor with the Babylonian king and been appointed to a high position. Daniel’s enemies are trying to find a reason that he should be charged with a crime. They are so determined that they go great lengths to have a law put into place that gets Daniel thrown into the lion’s den. They set the trap, and Daniel gets caught. They thought that they’d won. That’s when it gets interesting.

The morning after Daniel had been shut in the lion’s den, surely left for death, he emerged without a scratch on him. He had remained faithful. He had refused to let law and culture dictate his relationship with God. And when they tried to have him killed, their plan backfired. That is insane. This chapter illustrates the miraculous rescue of Daniel

.

It’s easy to read that story from beginning to end and gloss over the fact that Daniel couldn’t have known in a worldly sense that he was going to be okay. When I imagine myself in Daniel’s shoes, I can’t imagine having faith like that, but I can follow that example. I think that is the greatest takeaway we get from this story. The example of Daniel’s faith and trust in God is so steady. In the face of extraordinary circumstances, Daniel was convinced that God was good. He was convinced that God was the number one priority in his life.

So how does that apply to you? Great question. Do you ever feel like you are stuck in circumstances that are outside of your control? Most parts of our life aren’t really in our control. Things like our family, our health, our future, all of that stuff… it’s all a little uncertain. But this is certain - we have access to God. Daniel understood this. He understood that every day, the best thing he could do was seek relationship with God. We can do that. We get to do that. I think that Daniel’s diligence in seeking out God is probably a huge reason that he was so able to remain calm and faithful when his life looked like it was crashing down around him.

So challenge yourself today. Seek out time with God. Get out your journal, pray, worship, and enjoy spending time in His presence. He is so eager to spend time with you. I promise!

- Sarah S.

Old Testament Stories | Noahs Ark

Old Testament Stories | Noahs Ark

“Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood. Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah. And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth.” [Genesis 7:6-10]

Entire story found in Genesis 6-9


If you even stepped foot in a church as a child, you are probably familiar with the story of Noah’s Arc. Like so many other stories from the bible, it is easy for this one to lose its flavor after a while. But if you look a little closer, I believe this one has much to say to us Christians living in 2019.

So what can the story of Noah’s Ark teach us?

God sees. God provides.

God honored Noah’s righteousness and obedience. In the life of Noah, we see someone who stood apart from the rest so much so that God took notice.  He was righteous in the midst of a lot of wickedness and evil. Think of how much trouble it must have been for God to spare one family out of who knows how many.  He provided Noah with an arc and gave him everything he needed to preserve his family and creation. God takes cares of His children. He honors our righteousness. He honors our obedience. He sees the way we live our life day in and day out.

God remembers. God keeps His promises.

In Genesis 9:15, God says, “I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh.”  God made a rainbow as a symbol of a promise. He vowed to always remember the promise that He made. For me, this story brings so much hope. God remembers every single thing that He has spoken to us even if we have forgotten. He sustains us. He guides us.

What does that mean for us today?

If you are struggling to believe that God sees you or knows what you need, I would encourage to take hold of the story of Noah. Seeking God is never something done in vain as we see in Noah’s life. God will take care of you. He will make a way.

If you think God has forgotten about that broken relationship or that physical illness or that dream deferred, take hold of the story of Noah. I pray that it would fill you with hope that God sees and God remembers. If he has promised you something, He is good for it.

-Natalie

Let’s Pray.

God, I thank you that you see and you provide. I thank you that you remember and you keep your promises. I pray that you would help me to trust you for these things even when it is hard to see. Help me to take hold of hope today. Help me to have hope in the places it has been very hard to. I love you. Amen.


Old Testament Stories | Joseph

Old Testament Stories | Joseph

”The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had the Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field.” [Genesis 39:2-5]

The beginning of the story of Joseph is primetime for VBS coloring activities. Jacob, Joseph’s dad, gives him this coat of many colors because he is the favorite son. As a whole, I didn’t really know what Joseph’s life was about, but I knew I got to color an awesome robe full of whatever colors I wanted, and as a kid it doesn’t get much better than that! The story continues from there and Joseph’s brothers go on to sell him into slavery because they are jealous of him. Joseph ends up in Egypt, where he ends up second in power right under Pharaoh. In the end, he ends up saving Egypt, along with his family, from a massive famine. He restores relationship with his family and ends up living a good, long life of 110 years. Great story right? Yupp.

But what is God actually trying to show us about his character through this? What does he expect of us?

GOD IS FAITHFUL.

In the same way that God was faithful to Joseph, even when he was in slavery, God is faithful to you. He is consistent no matter what. He is consistent despite what your world looks like or what you feel. He is 100% true and reliable all the time.


GOD IS WORKING THINGS FOR GOOD.

Genesis 50:20 says, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” We live in a broken world, but God has, currently, and always will work for your good. Take hope in that now if you need to. Pray that you would be reminded of that the next time you begin to ask the question “why?”.

YOUR JOB IS TO BE OBEDIENT.

I’m sure there were times when Joseph asked that question. But he was faithful and obedient with where God had him. He said “no” to the things that weren’t of God and “yes” to the things that were. He took advantages of the opportunities afforded him. In the same way God was faithful to Joseph, Joseph was faithful to God. Joseph was faithful in slavery just as much as he was when he rose to power and prominence. God was much more concerned with Joseph’s heart than he was what was happening around him.


To end, remind yourself that God is faithful, He is working for your good, and he wants you to be faithful and obedient. Ask that God would fill you with his perspective and assure you of who He is.

-Nick


Old Testament Stories | Sodom and Gomorrah

Old Testament Stories | Sodom and Gomorrah

So, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah can be a lot to take in. There’s just a lot of darkness all around this story. If you want to read the whole thing, you can read Genesis 18:16-19:29. But here’s a rundown of what happens in the story:

  • God looks at Sodom and Gomorrah, and He only sees wickedness and evil, so He decides to destroy the cities and the surrounding areas

  • Abraham intercedes for the city. He asks God that if He can find 10 righteous people in all the city that He will spare the city. God agrees to this.

  • Lot (Abraham’s nephew) lives in Sodom, so God sends angels to help Lot and his family escape before the city is destroyed. The people of Sodom try to harm the angels, but Lot keeps them safe.

  • Lot (after much lingering) escapes the city with his family. But Lot’s wife disobeys God and looks back at the city of God and then is turned into a pillar of salt. Crazy!!!!

I think that it can be really easy to read this story and to only see the wrath of God, or to be scared of Him. But actually what I want to focus on in this story is the radical mercy of God.


There are actually several examples of God’s mercy written within this story; however, I particularly want to focus on God’s faithfulness to Lot (particularly when Lot wasn’t super faithful to God).

Lot certainly was not perfect. If you read stories about him in the Bible, he certainly struggled with sin a lot. However, because God claimed him, God showed Lot mercy time and time again. First, God allowed Lot to escape the city of Gomorrah.

Then, when Lot lingered in the city (even when God’s angels told him he needed to leave immediately), Genesis 19:16 Lot was still given the opportunity to escape because of “the Lord being merciful to him.”

Even after God helped Lot escape and told him to take his family to the hills, Lot basically said “that’s not good enough” and asked God to let him go to a nearby city instead. Because God loved Lot, He showed mercy and allowed Lot to go where he wanted to.

What does this mean?

So, in the Old Testament, the Jews were God’s chosen people. But after Jesus’ resurrection, we all have access to God. So, we all have access to God’s mercy. So, in the way that Lot was chosen by God and was given unconditional mercy, we have access to God’s mercy and love and forgiveness.

So, when you “mess up” or sin or just live a life that that does not honor God, there is so much mercy. His love for you is unconditional. Because of God’s absolute kindness and adoration of you, there will never be a place you can go where He will not adamantly seek you out. You cannot do anything that is bigger than His endless grace for you.

So, this means we get to live in freedom. Freedom without fear of judgment. Freedom to run to God no matter the circumstance, no matter the mistake. Know that God loves you, and no matter what you have done, God’s mercy is never ending for you!!

-Hannah

Pray

God, thank You for Your mercy. I ask that you will reveal to me a mindset of freedom and not one of bondage. Thank You that because of Your mercy, I can always run to You free of judgment. Your kindness amazes me, and I am so thankful for who You are! I love You, God. Amen.