Devotions

Author Archives: Bryan Fox

Peace and Glory

Prince of Peace | Devotion #6: Peace and Glory
Bryan Fox

Now and then, I will look at comments on news articles regarding tragedies in the world. Whether it is about war or killings there are usually comments along the line of “how can a loving God allow this to happen?” Then a terrible shooting takes place in a church building, and people go off the charts trash talking God, religion, and faith.

I have no answer as to why these things happen other than all things work for the glory of God. His plan is not ours and to pretend to understand in our small brain what His ways are is quite prideful and arrogant, to say the least.

To me, Prince of Peace means having an inner peace with God. The fact that I am a child of His brings me comfort and the basis that I can rationalize the many difficulties I encounter in my life. Jesus did not promise a life without pain, sorrow, or difficulties. So when I face these trials, I look to my faith in Jesus for peace in dealing with them. We were born as an enemy to God through our sin, but because of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, we have the hope and security of eternal peace. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we have been brought back to a relationship of peace with God.

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)

In the meantime, tragedies will continue, there will be sickness, disease and famine, mass shootings, death, and destruction. True world peace will become a reality only after Jesus returns.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Mordecai

Lesson Twelve | Devotion #5: Mordecai
Bryan Fox

Mordecai was a Jew from the tribe of Benjamin who had been taken into exile from Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar. He had a cousin named Esther who he took as his daughter after her mother and father died.

The king of that time, Ahasuerus, was looking for a new queen and Esther was selected as one of the women in contention for the role. Mordecai commanded her not to reveal that she was Jewish and would check on her every day to see how she was and what was happening to her. When the time came for Esther to see the king, she won his favor and became the queen.

Mordecai showed his character and loyalty by revealing to Esther about a plot to kill the king.

Esther 2:23 says, “When the affair was investigated and found to be so, the men were both hanged on the gallows. And it was recorded in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king.”

Then comes Haman, who held a high office under the king. Haman hated Mordecai because he refused to bow in honor to him which the king had commanded, as he would only bow to the Lord God of Israel. This made Haman furious but he did not want to kill Mordecai alone, so he came up with a plan to kill all the Jews within the kingdom, which the king approved.  When Mordecai heard of the decree, he tore his clothing, put on sackcloth and ashes, and mourned.

When Esther discovered he was mourning, she asked him why. Mordecai told Esther of Haman’s plot against the Jews, telling her to go to the king, beg his favor and plead for the Jews’ lives. Esther knew that if she were to approach the king uninvited the punishment was death. Mordecai told her if she did not go the king, she would be killed anyway because she was a Jew and would not be able to escape. Mordecai then tells the queen this famous statement: Esther 4:14 (NIV) says, “Who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Mordecai escaped Haman’s plan to hang him after the king realized that it was Mordecai who revealed the previous plot to kill him. The king ordered Haman to be hung instead on the very same gallows, and Mordecai was promoted to second in command.

Mordecai’s concern and character put him in good standing with the king, and his faithfulness to his Jewish lineage brought the blessing of God. He orchestrated events and was responsible for saving the Jews from being destroyed. He changed their world! His wisdom, along with Esther’s courage, is still celebrated today.

Samuel

 

Lesson Seven • Devotion #2: Samuel
Bryan Fox

Samuel was a man born to Hannah, a woman unable to conceive a child as 1 Samuel 1:5 says, The Lord had closed her womb.  Hannah petitioned to the Lord for a child who she would then give to the Lord all the days of his life.

As she promised her husband Elkanah, after Samuel was weaned, she brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh, gave her sacrifice to the Lord, brought her son to the chief priest Eli, and lent him to the Lord for as long as he would live.

1 Samuel

The Lord told Samuel what He was going to do to Israel and punish the house of Eli forever because his sons were blaspheming the Lord and Eli did not restrain them. In the morning Eli asked Samuel what the Lord had said, and even though he was afraid to tell Eli, he hid nothing.

1 Samuel 3:19-20 adds, “And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the Lord.”

Samuel showed his strong character and faith in the Lord by listening and then obeying what he was told. He told Israel (1 Samuel chapter 7) that if they would return to the Lord with all their hearts and get rid of the idols, the Lord would deliver them from the Philistines. They listened and obeyed, and the Lord’s hand was against the Philistines for all the days of Samuel.

Again, in 1 Samuel chapter 8, Samuel listened to the Lord when Israel wanted a king to rule over them, even though this request displeased him. He told Israel of all the things that would happen to them if they had a king. Israel refused to listen to what Samuel told them so when he told the Lord what Israel wanted; the Lord said to give them what they wanted.

Strong character is shown by listening and obeying what God says even when it is uncomfortable or goes against the majority. Samuel was true to the Lord and is a great example for us. After all, we are all His!

A Just Man, A Hard Choice

Joseph • Devotion #2: A Just Man, A Hard Choice
Bryan Fox | Deacon of Facilities

Back in Joseph and Mary’s day, to become married, there were two steps. First, came the betrothal which was actually the legal part and was a covenant. Since vows were spoken, it was binding until death do they part. Usually, it was done with the payment of a bride price and witnessed by two people, and the reciting of the traditional vows, “Thou art consecrated to me according to the law of Moses and of Israel.”

According to the customs, the bride and groom would live separately for one year, in their own parents’ homes. This was to maintain the purity of the woman. If she were to become pregnant during that year, she was not pure, the marriage could be annulled, and the woman could be stoned to death. If she were pure after the year, the wedding ceremony would take place after which the marriage would be consummated.

Now Joseph had a problem. Being of the house of David, how could he as a “righteous” man be married to someone who obviously had sinned and betrayed their covenant? Matthew 1:19 says, “And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.”

He must have been deeply hurt and betrayed, but also must have loved her dearly. He did not choose to seek revenge or disgrace her by bringing her in front of the judge to determine her fate. He showed his godly character by being respectful to her in his decision.

God is no different now than He was in biblical days. He knows the whole story, knows how things will turn out in the end, and He knows how you will get there. I often think about a sermon Pastor Jim preached using the illustration of God working upstream, He knows all, even when you have no clue what to do or how to approach a problem. It helps to know that no matter what you are going through, we need to rely on His perfect will and trust in Him to lead us on the right path with all of our decisions. Study God’s Word, earnestly ask for His will to be revealed to you through prayer and seek godly counsel so your decision can be pleasing and be honoring to God.

Sleepy Head

Servant #1 – Sleepy Head
Bryan Fox | Deacon of Facilities

Jesus went to Gethsemane to pray before being arrested and taken away to be crucified. This final act of servanthood as God, in human form, shows how much He loves us. The disciples had served Jesus throughout His ministry but could not manage to serve Him as He asked when He went further into the garden to pray. Instead, they fell asleep.

Jesus was about to begin His greatest act of being a servant. Being unfairly judged, mocked, and beaten so badly that he was within sight of death; He then hung on a cross to die.

1 Peter 2:24 says, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”

Imagine if you were living back then and were one chosen to follow and serve Him. At a critical time of need, when asked by Jesus to do something, you disobeyed and did your own thing. You have been around and taught by Him, you have seen the amazing miracles He performed, but when asked to do something, you lose focus and disobey. How awful and guilty would you feel?

We are commanded to serve and have been given the strength to serve by God.

 1 Peter 4:10-11 says,  As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

I have always loved to serve. I remember as a child being asked by my parents to do various things. I actually liked helping them and felt proud when I received a thank you or other forms of praise from them. Looking back, I believe that gave me a good start toward wanting to serve others, but now with the understanding of what Jesus did for me; I do it not for the praise to get thanks but to truly try to be a blessing to someone else.

If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior and profess to live for Him, serving is something that must be in your normal daily routine. Please do not ignore His calling and fall asleep. In doing so will you will miss out opportunities to bless someone including Jesus.

Matthew 25:40 says, “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”



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