June 16 – Wait, who? – Ananias and Sapphira

Read Acts 5:1-11

At the time of this writing, Kelly and I’s son, Mattie, is a couple of months shy of turning 4. It’s crazy to see the development already taking place with him! He is an extremely busy not-so- little boy who loves to get into things and experience new adventures. Recently, we have been turned on to kinetic sand (check it out!) and have since purchased some for him to play with.

Well, one morning, I’m getting ready for work and, for just a couple of minutes, take my attention off of Mattie and come back into the room to see sand all over the carpet (we constantly tell him to keep his toys on the table). I must have said something like, “Oh my goodness” with some kind of shocked expression on my face because Mattie read it, got out of his chair, came over to me and hugged me, saying, “Aw, it’s okay, Daddy”.

To what extent do you go to get away with doing something?

Our reading today talks about a married couple who tried to pull a quick one on God and paid the price. Ananias and Sapphira sold some land and offered the money to the apostles. The only thing was that they kept a portion for themselves. Essentially, they were claiming to giving it all to the work of God when they actually weren’t.

The couple’s plan was to go in at different times and Ananias didn’t get too far before Peter sniffed out his lie, saying that he not only lied to them but to God and Ananias fell down dead on the spot. Sapphira came in, not knowing that her husband died for lying, and she meets a similar fate as a result of not being truthful.

Our reading ends with the verse:

“Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.”

What are we supposed to do with this story?

Lying is something that God takes seriously, if you haven’t yet realized. A lying tongue is something that is even said to be hated by God (Proverbs 6:16-19) and has detrimental consequences to everyone.

In my eyes, the application is simple: strive to be truthful in all aspects of your life.

What are some areas in your life where you are most tempted to compromise the truth? When do you most stretch the truth or not tell the whole truth?

It is not my intention to tell you that God will strike you down the next time you lie, but I do want to communicate just how much God detests a lying spirit. My challenge goes out to all of us to take an honest inventory of our lives and repent of any lies that we have told or are living and move toward a more truthful life!

Jake Lawson

June 15 – Wait, who? – Dorcas

Read Acts 9:36-43

Years ago, I remember driving by a funeral home as someone was unloading a model airplane from their vehicle and carrying it inside. My guess is that airplane was placed on display as something a deceased loved one had made or at least enjoyed. It was likely something important to the one who had passed…perhaps even something, for which he/she was known.

What objects would your loved ones place on display at your funeral? What kinds of things would depict your values and priorities?

The eight verses from today’s reading seem to describe a similar scenario. A woman named Tabitha (also called Dorcas) had passed. As people assembled for what might have been the first-century equivalent of calling hours, women are there with articles of clothing that Dorcas had made by hand. But she was more than an accomplished seamstress. That clothing was apparently reflective of her reputation as one who did good and who helped the poor (v. 36). She probably made clothing and gave it to those in need…like the mourning widows in the upper room that day.

Still, that isn’t all that Dorcas is known for. She is also known as one raised from the dead by the power of Jesus. Even though we only read a few verses about her here, the story of her life spread beyond the widows gathered throughout the entire community there in Joppa. As a result, many people believed (v. 42).

Can we go back once again to where we began? What is it that you are known for? What will you one day be remembered for? Model airplanes? Your sports fanaticism? Your contribution to your work? Your commitment to Candy Crush?

Even if you are committed to doing things that help others, you must be careful. In the end, Tabitha’s good works stemmed from more than a humanitarian bent. Her help of the poor served a greater purpose than mere philanthropy. She was a follower of Jesus (v. 36). Ultimately, both her generosity and her resurrection brought fame to the name of Jesus.

What are you known for? Who gets the credit for it?

Steve Kern

June 14 – Wait, who? – Elisha

Read 1 Kings 19:1-21 and 2 Kings 2:1-25, 6:8-19

Being the youngest, I often was called by one of my sisters’ names. In fact, truthfully, I felt like I grew up in the shadow of my two older sisters. Perhaps that’s how our biblical character we read about today felt. Many people get the stories of Elijah and Elisha confused because their names are so similar. Elisha definitely had big shoes to fill in the shadow of his mentor, Elijah, but we will see today that Elisha, although he may not be as well known, was just as prominent.

Our character, Elisha, enters the scene in 1 Kings 19 after Elijah, a great prophet of God, was burned out from ministry. Elijah fled from wicked Jezebel, who sought to kill him, hid under a tree wishing to die, ate breakfast made by an angel, heard God’s voice in a gentle wind and was convinced he was the only one left on God’s side.

He was done.

So, God told Elijah that another prophet would take his place. Elijah first found Elisha plowing a field but Elisha quickly left his family, the oxen and the fields behind and followed Elijah. Elisha was Elijah’s right-hand man who did not leave his side. He was dedicated to minister to Elijah and learn from him before God miraculously took Elijah in a chariot of fire right in front of Elisha. Wow! Can you imagine seeing that?! Elisha saw it and cried out, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And whoosh! A whirlwind took Elijah to heaven!

Before God whisked away Elijah, Elisha asked Elijah to give him a double portion of his spirit and he was granted that request. 2 Kings is full of story after story of the miracles God performed through Elisha. Oil was multiplied for a widow, a boy was raised from the dead, an iron axe head was caused to float. Elisha was no doubt a man of God, full of compassion for others.

One of my favorite stories of Elisha is found in 2 Kings 6:8-19. The king of Aram was at war with Israel and, because God gave Elisha the ability to supernaturally know where the enemy camped, the king of Aram was enraged and sought to take Elisha. At night the Arameans surrounded Elisha’s city with chariots. In the morning Elisha’s servant was shocked at the scene-completely surrounded without an escape! Elisha comforted him and said, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” God permitted Elisha to see the unseen spiritual battle! He saw that God’s forces outnumbered the enemy’s’. Elisha then prayed that his servant’s eyes would be opened to see the same thing and they were!

This reminds me of Ephesians 6:10-18 where Paul writes that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Paul continues with instruction to put on the full armor of God- the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of the gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation and sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. The unseen battle is real.  What are you fighting? Rest assured that, although we cannot see the spiritual forces at war, God’s forces outnumber Satan’s and the victory is God’s! Oh, that we could see, like Elisha, that those who are with us are more than those who are with them.

Be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. You are on the winning side.

Charline Engle

June 13 – Wait, who? – Phillip

Read Acts 8:26-40

Life change is an invitation away.

This is one of my favorite values of Grace Church. If you really think about it, the Gospel message is all about invitation; Jesus inviting us to live in freedom and spend eternity with Him by accepting the free gift of salvation He offers to us by belief in His life, death, and resurrection from the grave. The passage we read today highlights for us the power of invitation, the power of God to use inconspicuous moments for eternal impact, and how saying “yes” to the nudging of the Spirit can help play a part in changing someone’s life.

I cannot help but put myself in the shoes of Phillip in this story. After all, he could have been anyone of us. Going about his normal day-to-day business and suddenly sensing God calling him to make a move or have a conversation. You know that thought or sense you get when you are prompted to “go talk with that person” or “go visit this place.” Rather than saying “no”, and writing the feeling off as something he had just cooked up in his head, Phillip said “yes”. That “yes” and the work of the Spirit in the Eunuch’s life had eternal significance. There is something so beautiful in the simplicity of this passage. God using His messengers to share His love, and witnessing the life change of the Gospel before our eyes.

As you are reading this devotional today, I am sure each of us can recall “the invitation” that helped play a part in our salvation story. For some, it might have been a friend inviting you to come to church one Sunday, or a colleague inviting you to a Christmas service, or, if you are like me, the enticement of a free lunch after service with your grandparents. No matter your invitation story, I think we can all agree it played a part in the most important decision of your life.

I wonder today who God might be calling you to invite. Whose story He wants you to be a part of. Would you join me in praying today that God would allow us to play a role in someone’s life like Phillip was to the Eunuch?

Friends, life change truly is an invitation away. The power of the Gospel never ceases to amaze me.

Taylor Bennington

June 12 – Wait, who? – Balaam

Read Numbers 22:1-41

King Balak and Balaam, the prophet, had it backwards. They thought they could get God to serve them.

But that’s not how it works.

Balak was afraid of God’s people so he sent for Balaam, thinking Balaam’s words could protect the Moabites from Israel. But when the prophet-for-hire didn’t get the answer he wanted, he tried again, and then again, until he got the answer he thought he was looking for. Then God sent him on his way. That’s when God gave words to a donkey so Balaam could understand what he refused to believe.

And Balaam came face-to-face with the truth that God does not serve man. He is the Almighty Creator, Lord of all. Man. Beast. Balaam. Balaam’s donkey.

Balaam tried three times to get God to change His mind and let him say what he wanted to say. Three tries before he would find the fear of God inside the truth that he was 100% incapable of speaking his own words rather than God’s. Balaam had let Balak convince him that he was the power behind his own words, whether blessings or curses. But God set him straight and finally Balaam saw clearly the truth that only He is the one to be feared, revered.

As you read this story, which character do you most relate to? Are you like King Balak, believing a certain person holds the power to make or break your life with their words? Are you looking to other people for salvation and safety? 

Maybe you relate more to Balaam, convinced that you can tell God how to run things. Trusting yourself, seeking your own thing, thinking you have the power to resist God’s plan and go your own way, do your own thing.

Or is it the donkey you relate most to? Sadly, the donkey in the story is the only one who actually obeyed God from the first. He spoke His words, delivered His message, let God be the Lord.

If only Balaam had let God be his personal Lord rather than seeking his own way, running after the money King Balak had promised, chasing the favor of the Moabites. But he did not. And that is what leads us to conclude right here that, sometimes, we should be like the donkey.

Bria Wasson

June 11 – Wait, who? – Elishama

Read Jeremiah 36:12

One of the greatest opportunities I have ever had was traveling to Israel and “walking where Jesus walked”. This once in a lifetime opportunity came at the culmination of a 10-month period of studying the Bible at the Great Commission Bible Institute out of Sebring, Florida. God used that time in my life to pull me close to Him. God was doing such a work in my life and it was highlighted by seeing the Bible come alive right before my eyes in the landscape of the Middle East.

There were so many “wow” moments that I don’t have the space to describe. Standing on the very rock where Jesus told Peter that He would build His Church and the gates of Hell, which many thought were below our feet, would not overcome. Standing in the ruins of a house at Caesarea by the Sea where we were told that we were likely standing within 50 feet of where Paul appealed to Caesar in Acts 25.

What?!

What does this have to do with our reading today? What even is our reading about?

We are focusing on Elishama who actually isn’t that interesting. He wasn’t a prophet, king or long-lost disciple of Jesus…he was a secretary.

Why is this so important?

What makes this obscure Bible character interesting is the extra-biblical evidence that we have for him – which in turn speaks to the historical reliability of Scripture.

In 1986, outside of Jerusalem, a clay seal was found that says, “Elishama, servant of the king,” proving that he was indeed a scribe in the exact time setting and situation that Scripture describes. This right here is evidence that all of Scripture is God-breathed, even down to the tiniest detail and seemingly insignificant person!

How do we know the Bible is true? Because it is proven to be accurate over and over again.

Second Timothy 3 tells us that all Scripture is God breathed and Galatians 3 proves to us that even every pen stroke is inspired by God and important to His message.

The fact that Elishama is mentioned in the Bible and we have hard evidence that he not only existed but served as a secretary, proves that the Bible is accurate!

What does this mean to you today?

My encouragement to you is to get plugged into God’s Word continually. If you’re reading this, I hope that you are subscribed to Every Day with God in order to receive daily content that is written with the goal of making you a more devoted follower of Christ!

As you read, allow the Spirit of God to touch your heart. How can you change? In what ways can you grow in your faith?

You can trust the Bible because it is living and active (Hebrews 4:12), inspired by God and has the power to change the very landscape of your life and eternity.

How can you soften your heart even more to God’s Word?

Jake Lawson

June 10 – Wait, who? – Jethro

Read Exodus 18:1-27

The modern stereotype of in-laws is not a particularly favorable one. They are often portrayed as annoying, controlling, and invasive. According to the stereotype, the son or daughter-in-law tolerates the in-laws at best or disregards them at worst. Not so in the relationship between Jethro and Moses.

But the takeaway principles from today’s reading extend far beyond that of in-law relationships. There is so much more than that in this chapter. In fact, if you feel overworked or as if you don’t have enough time in the day, there is something here for you. If you are wondering how to multiply yourself, your influence, or your ministry, this chapter offers great insights.

As Moses and the Israelites approached Mt. Sinai, father-in-law Jethro joined them. He heard the stories of God’s faithful delivery of His people as they faced impossible opposition, and he rejoiced. But the next day, he watched Moses, his son-in-law, in action. He watched as people stood around waiting their turn to present their grievance. He saw how Moses delivered verdicts over interpersonal disputes…and that from morning till evening.

“What you are doing is not good” (v. 17). That was Jethro’s assessment of the approach Moses was using. Operating under the existing plan, Moses was going to exhaust himself and frustrate God’s people. Instead, according to Jethro, Moses should have been teaching people God’s ways. He should select others to settle the disputes.

Correction requires humility, doesn’t it? Moses possessed that. He was able and willing to take his father-in-law’s advice that there was a better way. As a result, he was able to give himself more completely to the specifics of his primary calling.

In what facets of your life could you apply this “Jethro principle”? Are you a bottle neck to progress for your work or in your family? Is the fruitfulness of your ministry minimized because of your desire to have your hand in everything?

Don’t miss out on the blessing of inviting, equipping, and releasing others who can do the work. This often has the added benefits of offering you additional time and energy to invest elsewhere. And, you may see others flourish as they find a renewed sense of purpose.

Steve Kern

June 9 – Wait, who? – Korah

Read Numbers 16:1-50

I can almost hear Moses talking to Korah and his rebel friends:

You think I put myself in this role?!”

You think I chose this job?!

Why in the world would I choose to lead you ungrateful, pride-filled people who constantly complain against me and whine?

Korah and the Levites had been set apart from the rest of the people. Separated for God’s work to keep charge of the tabernacle. An awesome job, indeed. But Korah wanted more. He seems to have liked the idea of being in charge. So, he got some other Levites and leaders from around the camp and planned a coup.

They figured the job God had given them wasn’t enough.

If we are completely honest, most of us would admit having felt that way too.

You’re a mom who stays home with her small children, serving God by changing diapers, wiping noses, playing Go Fish thirty times a day. But there’s another mom serving in a more prominent way. Maybe she leads a Bible study or writes bestselling books and goes on worldwide speaking tours.

You are recently retired, called to mentor young men in a Grace Group. But you’ve seen other retirees who are “changing the world” in one fell swoop.

You work an hourly job where you spread the love of Jesus Christ with your words and your prayers and your friendship and your work ethic. But your neighbor is the president of a company and he has a much bigger platform from which to spread that love.

It’s easy to forget that we were called by God, not ourselves. We lose sight of the truth that God alone is who we serve. Not ourselves. He is the one who calls each of us according to His purpose and for His glory alone.

If Moses had appointed himself the leader, if Aaron had made himself the priest of Israel, then Korah’s plan would have totally worked. He and his band of rebels could have grabbed the big role of leading all those people and run with it.

But God was the one doling out the roles — from head honcho to manna-collector. 

It was up to them to serve faithfully, to walk humbly with God, in whatever role He’d given them. It’s up to us to serve Him faithfully still, walking humbly with Him, in whatever role He’s given us.

Bria Wasson

June 8 – Wait, who? – Ehud

Read Judges 3:12-27

If you have ever read the book of Judges, Kings or Chronicles, there is one phrase you became familiar with: “The Sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord”…over and over and over again. 

Here we are in Judges 3 where we are introduced to Ehud but, before we get to Ehud, in chapter 3 alone, we see that phrase twice.

Time and time again the people of Israel turned against the Lord and what was best and chose their own paths, wants and desires, ending up in slavery. Yet, the Lord repeatedly delivered them and in this particular chapter we meet Ehud.

We don’t learn much about who Ehud is, but, if the Lord “raised him up”, we have to conclude that He was a God-fearing, God-listening man. He followed God’s instructions in a time of need for His people and, through Ehud, the Lord delivered His people from underneath Moab. 

As I read this chapter, the biggest reminder that sticks out is how God brings forth deliverance. Throughout history and the Word of God, we see deliverance occur. The choices we make cause separation from God or His best and then we cry out to Him. And because of His love for us, He delivers us.

Over and over and over again. 

How many times in our own lives has God delivered us? For me, I can say countless occasions. I specifically think back to the time in my life when I did evil in the sight of the Lord, saw zero hope and chose to take my own life. During the attempt, God intervened and I was delivered out of the darkness of my mind and heart. Everything that I suffered with was Eglon, king of Moab, and Ehud was Jesus. And just like Ehud came and quite literally destroyed Eglon, Jesus destroyed my way of thinking and feeling and caused a new light to appear, a new hope and a new peace.

I was delivered. 

If you get anything from reading Judges 3, other than a graphic death scene, get this;

Jesus will fight for you, He cares for you and He will and has crushed the head of evil. 

This deliverance offered is free for us, but the only way to get there is through Jesus.

Just like the only hope for the sons of Israel was Ehud. 

I don’t know what you may be going through, I don’t know what decisions or choices you are faced with, what heartache may haunt you or what emotions fill your mind, but what I do know is that, because Jesus will fight for you, because of His love for you, He will deliver you and has delivered you; all you have to do is choose to go before Him, cry out and turn the other way with Him by your side. 

Kelly Lawson

June 7 – Wait, who? – Thief on the Cross

Read Luke 23:32-43

“The Thief on the Cross” is only known to us by the sin he committed.  We don’t know why he stole, what or even when it all happened.  We don’t know if it was a matter of desperation or peer pressure.  We don’t know if he stole from the rich, the poor, his neighbor or a stranger.  We do know; however, his punishment had been justified because he told us so. (vs 41). We also don’t know what he had heard about this Messiah who had been preaching around the area.

But none of that mattered to Jesus.  When the man came face to face with Jesus, he acknowledged Him to be the one true Son of God, able to forgive sins, confessed that what he had done was wrong. Then he asked to be saved and it was granted. For that reason, I prefer to call him the “Forgiven Man on the Cross”.

Jesus forgave him, so why shouldn’t we? Why do we hold grudges against people who have done wrong things and have asked for forgiveness?  Why do we hold in our memories the things people have done in the past, maybe even have gone to jail for, yet have turned their lives around? Do you only know these people, not by their names but the wrongs they have done?  Do you forget all the great things they may have done before they yielded to temptation? We have ALL sinned and, if you say you don’t, you just did!

Judging people is not our job. That is God’s job. Our job is to love our neighbors as ourselves. If you don’t want to be a person who is nameless to everyone else and only known by the bad things you do, make sure you know the names of those you meet not by what they might have done.  Get to know their “story” – what makes them tick.  Let them know you care and introduce them to your friend and Savior Jesus. There was a sign that was posted long ago that said, “People don’t care what you know until they know you care!” They aren’t going to listen to you until you listen to them. That includes your own kids!

We know what happened to the forgiven man on the cross; however, what about the others?  The really sad part of this story is the fact that the other thief who was in the same circumstances joined the blinded jeering crowd, soldiers and even rulers in mocking Jesus as He hung there for THEIR sins!  We don’t know what happened to them after they died. We can only hope that what happened 3 days later drew them to repent of their sins and they joined the forgiven man in paradise!

Pat Arnold