May 18 – What Does the Bible Say About Itself?

Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and Hebrews 4:12

“The most influential book of all time.”

“No other book like it.”

I’ve made those statements about the Bible.  But what does the Bible say about itself?  I would answer that in several ways. First …

  1. The Bible is an awesome book. The word “awesome” is used and abused today. I’ve even heard some use the word “awesome-est,” as if something can be more than awesome. Experiences and people are described as awesome when they are anything but that.

But the Bible is truly an awesome book because it is “inspired” by God (2 Timothy 3:16). That doesn’t mean “inspiring” like a gorgeous sunset. Rather it is the product of God Himself!

The word “inspired” means “God – breathed” or “exhaled” from God. No wonder it’s called the Word of God. The Bible is the product of God directing human authors to write exactly what He wanted to have written (2 Peter 1:20-21). I don’t fully understand how that supernatural process worked, but it can be described as nothing less than “awesome.”

And beyond all of that, the Bible is not a collection of principles, platitudes, or lessons. It is a thrilling story of God’s redemptive plan for mankind. From beginning to end, the plot of Scripture spotlights Jesus Christ, God’s Only Son, the Redeemer of Mankind.  Jesus said: “…These are the very Scriptures that testify about me” (Matthew 5:39-40).

Furthermore,

2. The Bible is an accurate book. Because God‘s character is true, His Word is trustworthy, completely reliable. Some suggest that the Bible is accurate when it speaks about theology but not accurate when it speaks about history or science. But if the Bible is not fully reliable at every point, how can we be sure it’s reliable at any point? Every word of God is described as “flawless” (Psalm 12:6), “eternal” (Psalm 119:89) and “perfect” (Psalm 119:96). If it is not accurate, it is worthless.

3. The Bible is also an authoritative book. The Bible is the Owner’s Manual for effective operation in this world by every human being. This means that every opinion, statement and belief should be tested by the question: “What does the Bible say about this?”

In fact, God expects us to obey what He said in His Word. Obedience is not optional. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22).

4. The Bible is an adequate book.

The Apostle Peter said that God has given us “everything we need for a godly life through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3). The Scriptures have been given so that we might be “thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16). Someone said, “While the Bible may not tell us everything we want to know, it does tell us everything we need to know. Its truth isn’t exhaustive, but it is enough.”

Think of this! One book, penned by 40 different human authors on three different continents in three different languages over a period of more than 1500 years, provides exactly what we need for this life and all eternity.

It is an endless supply of riches!  

No book will ever claim more of your life than this book. And no book will ever give you more of life than this book.  Why not treat God’s word with the respect it deserves and allow it to have its rightful place of preeminence in your life?

Bob Fetterhoff

March 11 – The Gospel of Matthew – Chapter 4

Read Matthew 4:1-25 and Hebrews 4:15

There is such a power in someone relating to something you’re going through.

If you’ve read our devos consistently over the past several months, you will know that my wife, Kelly, and I are fairly outspoken about our miscarriage in the fall of 2020. We do that, not because we want people to feel sorry for us, but so that people can see the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord in the midst of a difficult time we experienced.

As we were dealing with the grief of the loss of our child, my mind immediately shifted to the many couples in our church who I know have experienced this exact thing. Over the months that were ahead, Kelly and I both met with individuals who we knew had experienced a miscarriage themselves. I can’t explain the impact that had on us. For someone to say, “Hey, I’ve been there. You’ve got this. God is faithful.”

It was monumental.

There are many different aspects of Jesus that amaze me even today. There is a theological term called “hypostatic union” which is the truth that Jesus was and is both 100% God and 100% man. When Jesus put on human flesh as described in John 1, Jesus was fully human while also complete deity. However, He laid aside the right to some of his divine power.

One of the greatest truths in the gospels and one that, if untrue, destroys the Christian faith is that Jesus never sinned while on earth.

However, that doesn’t mean He wasn’t tempted.

Matthew 4 describes the temptation of Jesus immediately after His baptism. This brings about the principle that, often after a great high point in your life, you are the most susceptible to temptation.

Hebrews 4:15 puts it this way:

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.”

When Satan offered food to Jesus, it wasn’t as if Jesus immediately cast him aside and declined. He was tempted. He may very well have thought about giving in. When challenged to throw Himself off a high point and have angels miraculously save Him, I bet Jesus thought about making Satan eat his words. However, He resisted temptation and He did so via Scripture.

When we are tempted and we pray for deliverance, Jesus can say, “Hey, child, I’ve been there. You’ve got this. I am faithful.”

When you are tempted, in what way can you utilize Scripture to fight through? How does it make you feel to know that Jesus was, according to Hebrews 4, tempted in every way we are? Also, is there anyone that you can come beside and say, “Hey, friend, I’ve been there. You’ve got this. God is faithful”?

There is such a power in someone relating to something you’re going through.

Jake Lawson

February 25 – Personality of Jesus

Read Hebrews 4:14-16

“No one understands like Jesus. He’s a friend beyond compare. Meet Him at the throne of mercy; He is waiting for you there.”

Over fifty years ago, John W. Peterson penned these words into a song following a bitter experience. Mr. Peterson gave this account of the song.

“I began to feel very alone and forsaken. Suddenly, I sensed the presence of the Lord in an unusual way and my mind was diverted from my difficulties to His faithfulness and sufficiency. Soon the thought occurred to me that He fully understood and sympathized with my situation- in fact, no one could ever completely understand or care as did He.”

My husband was only twenty-one when he experienced the tragic loss of his mother. He recalls hearing the radio play that comforting song soon after she crossed into glory. He was able to stay the course because he could cast all his care on Jesus. Why? Because Jesus, fully God, was also fully man and can sympathize with all of our weaknesses and difficulties.

Three words summarize the book of Hebrews:

Jesus is better.

Jesus is better than all the Old Testament symbols that pointed to Him. As Moses was instructed on Mount Sinai, the tribe of Levi was set apart for priestly duties. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest entered the Holy of Holies to offer the blood of a spotless lamb for the sins of the people and his own sins. Hebrews chapter 5 says that the high priest can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided since he himself also is beset with weakness.

But, as the theme of the book tells us, Jesus is better. When Jesus stepped out of heaven, He chose to come, not as a fully grown, mature man, but as a baby. He was dependent on His parent’s nurturing. He ran and played and probably fell down and scraped His knee. He learned a trade as a craftsman from His earthly father. He had friends and enemies. He laughed and cried. Jesus embraced all of our humanness, but, because He was also fully God, never sinned. For this reason, He is the greatest high priest. He understands all of our weaknesses but, because He has no weakness or sin, He not only offered the sacrifice, but He became the sacrifice. John called Him the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Only Jesus could be both the priest and the offering.

We all want an understanding friend when we encounter difficulty. We long for someone who accepts us and will never let us down. But, as I have heard from one of my favorite Bible teachers, the content of contentment is Christ. We will always be disappointed if we look to others to meet our needs that only Jesus can meet. Is Jesus your friend? Do you come boldly before His throne and find His understanding help in your time of need? May your heart be filled with the chorus, No one is so near, so dear as Jesus; cast your every care on Him.

You can give Him all your cares because He fully understands.

Charline Engle

February 23 – Meet the Team – Shelly Eberly

Read Psalm 19:7-11, Hebrews 4:12 and James 1:22-25

I’ve been hungry for words all of my life. Longing for affirmation to know that I was appreciated, I would cling to words that convinced me someone was paying attention to me. I would drown in piles of painful words and float on words of kindness. I was unstable.

I’ve always been drawn to God’s word. Certain verses would hit me hard or soft, depending on the day. But I didn’t have a huge desire or discipline to read it.

I would feel guilt for that. I would make promises and plans and fail. I would soak up teaching from others. But I wasn’t too great at feeding myself.

I began reading the Bible for hours when I became a new mama. Unsure if the words were even sinking in, I kept reading. I remember being ‘lit on fire’ by the enthusiasm of Beth Moore through a few of her studies. I soaked up Christian radio while I cleaned the house and changed diapers. I began to develop a taste for these words David describes as sweeter than honey.

The more I read, the more I couldn’t put this massive book down. The more pages I consumed, the less intimidated I was by the amount of them, and the more captivated I became by the intimacy and love I discovered on each one. The more I listened to God’s voice, the more reliant on Him I became.

I went from a guilty yeah-I-probably-should-read-my-Bible type of gal to an I-can’t-wait-to-see what-He-has-to-say-today kind of follower. I was no longer lit on fire only by the insight of others, I was on fire.

And still am.

“There’s nothing like the written word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another – showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 MSG

God’s words have called me into true, abundant life. They’ve stabilized my identity, broadened my understanding, and anchored my hope. They’ve invoked honesty from my soul about my selfish nature and invited me to deeper faith and surrender. They have provided answers to my questions and given me peace when there isn’t any. By God’s grace and through the power of His Spirit, His words compel my feet to move in faith, one baby step at a time.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.”

John 10:27

Reading Every Day with God means you are also taking steps to listen to His voice. Keep reading and putting His truth into practice. Jesus is so worthy of your love and devotion!

You’re doing great!

Shelly Eberly

December 16 – Importance of the Old Testament – The Price of Sin

Read Leviticus 4:1-35 and Hebrews 9:16-28

I sat across the table from my mother-in-law at an Olive Garden in Sebring, Florida during a recent visit to my wife’s hometown. I try to make it a point to spend some one-on-one time with Momma Patty whenever I can because…well…she’s just that awesome. Momma Patty didn’t have it easy. She was a single mother who raised 4 kids on her own while working full time. How she made ends meet and provided for all 4 of her kids, I will never know. In many regards, I look up to Momma Patty, not only because she shares my love of action movies, but because of her strength and “do what you gotta do” attitude. As I stuffed my face with that incredible Olive Garden salad, I asked her simply, “How did you do it?”

“Jesus”

There are many things that Kelly and I do in parenting that was influenced by Momma Patty. Many lessons Kelly has learned from her mom that we are beginning to teach Mattie.

One of the main things that Momma Patty taught Kelly and her siblings was that there are consequences for your actions. If you chose to do something, you will have to live with the consequences from getting tattoos to getting involved in the wrong crowds.

This same consequence mindset is part of what makes the Old Testament so important. In it, we begin to understand the price (or consequence) of sin.

As you read (or skimmed) through our Leviticus reading today, you began to see just what consequences there were for sin back then. The Israelites definitely came to understand the price for sin as it was never something that God could just “forget and move on from”.

Sin was something that had to be dealt with completely.

For many, many years, Leviticus 4 was the solution.

Everything changed when Jesus came.

Hebrews 9 talks about how Jesus came once and for all to take away the sin of the world. When Jesus was on the cross, He bore the sin of the world and was the recipient of the wrath of God that was the punishment for sin.

What often goes unnoticed in Genesis 3 is the thread of promising redemption. Literally a verse after cursing the serpent (Satan), God reveals His plan for redemption. Sin would ravage the world and would make life so incredibly difficult but, in the end, salvation would come through the eventual offspring of the woman and the ultimate consequences of sin would be done away with.

This theme of redemption is a common thread throughout the Bible. We are introduced to the price of sin right away and, throughout the Bible, we read about how God’s plan of redemption unfolds.

How thankful are you that, regardless of the price of your sin, Jesus paid for it by dying on the cross in your place? Will you take a moment to thank Him for that and commit to live for and glorify Him?

Jake Lawson

November 27 – By Faith or by Sight – Live Today Trusting God

To fully follow God, we must leave the past behind, look ahead with anticipation and finally…live today trusting God.

Abraham and Sarah faced a series of defining moments which included obstacles that had to be overcome. Two of these are shared in Hebrews. The first was related to God’s promise in Genesis for a nation to come from Abraham. He was 75 when they left home. Now he’s 99, Sarah is 90 and they have no kids. Suddenly, they find out they’re going to have a child. We discover that when they found out, they laughed (Genesis 17:17; 18:12). Yet the promise maker became a promise keeper. “And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise.” (Hebrews 11:11)

The second obstacle to overcome was related to this child. God now requested Isaac to be sacrificed. What!?! Isaac, their only hope and dream, was being tied up and placed on an altar by Abraham. The Hebrews author writes, “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.’ 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.” (Hebrews 11:17-19)

Abraham was willing to obey and sacrifice Isaac, believing God would raise him from the dead. He was willing to give everything to God. What a humbling thought. In the story’s original account in Genesis, we learn that, just when Abraham raises his hand, an angel appears and stops him. He provides a lamb to be sacrificed. Thousands of years before Jesus died on the cross, we see God painting a picture of it for us. Just like God provided a sacrificial lamb in Isaac’s place, He provided Jesus, His only Son, in our place. God is a promise maker and He is a promise keeper. Fully following God means trusting God in the moment.

There are only two ways to live – by faith or by sight. To fully follow God, you must live by faith. When we do, it changes our lives and countless others. Hebrews 11:12 says, “And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.” (Hebrews 11:12)

Remember great opportunity rests inside great uncertainty. What is seen is temporary and uncertain. What is unseen is eternal and certain. God, His Word, and people will last forever. Nothing else is certain. So how will your defining moments be defined? By what is certain or by what is uncertain? What does it look like for you to fully follow God today? What do you need to leave behind? Do you need to focus on what is ahead? Where do you struggle to trust God right now? Wrestle with these questions. Invite someone you trust to give you feedback on what they would write about you.

Nick Cleveland

November 26 – By Faith or by Sight – Look Ahead with Anticipation

Years ago, we traveled by van to Florida. The anticipation was electric for the boys. We were on Burbank Road pulling onto the Dix Expressway (1 mile from home), when our youngest at the time genuinely asked, “How long until we get there?” We laughed…“22 hours, buddy!” For Abraham and Sarah, while the anticipation was real, the journey was long. Hebrews says, “By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:9-10)

Abraham, his kids and grandkids were all waiting to possess what God promised. We hate to wait, don’t we? Waiting in line for our food or even for the end of the pandemic. Abraham and Sarah lived in tents as foreigners who didn’t belong. They couldn’t wait to get there, wherever “there” was. For Christ followers, this is a picture of our life today. You were designed for a different destination. And this life is a journey.

But you know what gets you through a season of waiting? Hope. The confident anticipation of what is on the other side. For our kids, it was Florida. For Abraham, it was a destination that will not disappoint. Abraham was longing for a location that would last forever – a real place called Heaven. One second after you breathe your last breath, you will spend forever somewhere. There aren’t countless destination options. One is separated from God in a real place called Hell and the other is connected with God in a real place called Heaven. Abraham had confidence looking ahead. Do you? Real faith is confident that, no matter what problems you experience, the destination you expect is for sure. Hope in heaven drives peace on earth. Hope sets our minds on things above and things that last forever. What you set your mind on is what you live for.

What do you live for? Too often, our focus is on what doesn’t last, so we become disappointed when it disappears. Abraham was looking ahead with anticipation to what would last forever. To follow God fully in a season of uncertainty, we have to focus on what lasts. Will you look ahead with anticipation and decide to live for what lasts?

Nick Cleveland

November 25 – By Faith or by Sight – Leave Your Past Behind

When Vicki and I moved here 18 years ago, we felt the uncertainty of not knowing anyone. Maybe you know that feeling of moving from the familiar to the unfamiliar. It’s precisely what Abraham and Sarah did, leaving friends, family, and ways of life when they responded to God’s call and moved. Hebrews 11:8 says, “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:8)

Faith is more than just belief; it’s accompanied with action. To fully follow God, you must leave your past behind. We don’t always get a detailed description of what’s next. Faith is taking the first step when you don’t know exactly where the path leads. In Abraham’s case, that was Ur – his homeland. Ur was filled with idolatry- worship of created things and not the Creator. It was a place of selfishness. It represented security and comfort, but Abraham had to leave the past behind to fully follow God. And so do we.

We must leave behind our old way of thinking and living and journey toward a new way of thinking and living. Paul told the Corinthians that “if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation the old is gone and the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) God is inviting us to a new life and the journey begins by giving up our unbelief, selfishness, pride, sin and worship of anyone or anything other than God. Giving up our way of life for God’s way is the biggest obstacle to living by faith.

What do you need to leave behind? God’s way is the best way and He is calling you to leave behind your way and fully follow Him to a new destination.

Nick Cleveland

June 22 – Father’s Day 2020 – Hebrews 12

Read Hebrews 12:1-11

One of the marks of a good earthly father is his ability to exercise appropriate discipline. If you, as a son or daughter, experienced that in your relationship with your father, you can be grateful. If you as a father demonstrate(d) that in your relationship with your children, you are not only training your kids but also modelling the response of your Heavenly Father.

But what is discipline? The word has many meanings. Among other things, it can refer to a field of study, a form of punishment, a corrective effort, or imposed limitations or directives.  But, no matter how the word is used, “discipline” has a largely negative overtone. We cringe at the idea.

The author of Hebrews, however, is encouraging us to see discipline differently. Indirectly, he paints a picture of what a father’s discipline should look like. More directly, he allows us to gain perspective on the discipline we experience at the hands of our loving Heavenly Father.

Here are two importance principles about discipline:

  1. Discipline is painful (v. 11) but beneficial (v. 10). I still remember the tears or sometimes even anger of disappointment when I would discipline our kids. When any earthly father says “No,” it hurts. When he uses corporal punishment, takes away the cell phone, or gives a time out, it isn’t pleasant. But he has good intentions. He desires to teach an important lesson. In like manner, the hardships of life that your Heavenly Father brings/allows are not always enjoyable, but He does so for our benefit, “in order that we may share in his holiness.” (v. 10)
  2. Discipline is an expression of a loving relationship (vv. 6-8). When our kids were growing up and playing with children from the neighborhood, I did not consider myself responsible for disciplining the other kids. An earthly father should take responsibility for disciplining his own kids. His discipline is an indication of his love for his own. If you experience the discipline of the Lord, you can be assured that it is an expression of the love He has for you as a son or daughter.

Dads, through discipline, we bear the weighty responsibility of lovingly guiding our children towards Christ-likeness.

For all of us, we are instructed to demonstrate respect (v. 9) and endurance (vv. 1, 2, 3, 4, 7) in the face of discipline. Respect your earthly father and your Heavenly Father because their discipline is grounded in their vision for a better version of you. Demonstrate endurance in the throes of discipline because short cutting it also reduces the harvest of righteousness and peace (v. 11).

Steve Kern

May 13 – When I Get Out – Encourage Now and Later

Read Hebrews 3:13

I grew up playing baseball and hockey.  I love those sports, and I wanted to be the best player I could be.  For hours when I wasn’t on the ice, I would retreat to our basement, where I had taped a 6’ x 4’ goal on the concrete wall.  With blue chalk, I colored in four circles, one in each corner of the “net.” I took thousands of shots at that concrete goal, trying to develop my proficiency so that I could hit any corner of the net with the puck from any place on the floor without looking.

I can’t tell you how many times I swung a baseball bat, but I know it was at least several thousand times, without even having a baseball thrown to me.  Just swinging in the mirror, or in the reflection of our front storm door, to make sure my swing was just right, from start to finish.

I figured that if I put in good work off the ice and off the field, then I’d be a better contributor to the team when I skated onto the ice or ran onto the field.

The author of Hebrews said, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13; emphasis mine) With each day – even during a stay-at-home order, even under quarantine – God has given you and me an opportunity to encourage someone and to especially encourage them toward greater faithfulness.

We can practice off the field, so to speak, what we would normally do in person.  Even when we can’t be with them, we can encourage others.  Encouragement is vital. Encouragement instills courage. It imparts strength. It lifts perspectives. It influences attitudes. It empowers. It motivates. It inspires faithfulness.

So, let’s not wait until we “get out” to encourage one another.  Send an encouraging text. Make an encouraging phone call. Post an encouraging message. The more you do it now, the better you’ll be at it later… when we get out.

Dave Lawson