Author Archives: James Clouse

Twelve Tribes 

Leah & Rachel • Devotion #6: Twelve Tribes
James Clouse | Student Pastor

Have you ever been put in a position where God was able to use your own sinful behavior for His good? God has to remind me all the time that my own sin can cause disastrous consequences, but it is also amazing to see the ways that God has used my past sins and the sins of those around me to help me grow.

Genesis 35:22-26 says, “While Israel lived in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine. And Israel heard of it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve. The sons of Leah: Reuben (Jacob’s firstborn), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. The sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s servant: Dan and Naphtali. The sons of Zilpah, Leah’s servant: Gad and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram.”

God did not intend for Jacob to sin against his family and run away. God did not intend for Jacob to work for Laban and have his father-in-law trick him to sleep with the wrong daughter. Jacob’s past is full of sin, as is all of ours. But we see an amazing thing happen with all the children that Jacob had with both Leah and Rachel. Yet, we see the birth of the twelve tribes of Israel. 

The first three children will not receive their own tribe because of the sin in their lives, but the rest of Jacob’s, or Israel’s, children will see flourishing tribes come forth. Here we see the amazing power of redemption. God has used the sin of Jacob, the sins of those around him, and the sins of his children to create twelve tribes that will go on to create kingdoms. God has redeemed Jacob and his family to create and to fulfill His promises. 

In our own lives, we see this amazing redemption through the power of Jesus Christ. Christ has redeemed us with His blood. So when we come before our Father with our sins, we are sanctified through the amazing power of Christ’s redeeming blood. This does not mean that we will not be punished or see the consequences of the sins in our lives, but rather God can use those sins to either help us grow or to help others around us. 

The next time that you sin, which will happen, come before the Father and ask for forgiveness. Ask God to have Him use that sin to help you grow in your walk with Him. Ask the Father how you can now move on with your life to help others away from that sin. If you have dealt with alcohol abuse, come before God and ask for forgiveness and let Him use that sin to help others. The same goes for other sins that others around us struggle.

Esau Sells Birthright 

Jacob & Esau • Devotion #3: Esau Sells Birthright
James Clouse | Student Pastor

Do you live for the here and now? Is it important to satisfy the immediate needs in your life? In life, I feel that we often live life for the here and now. We often live life for what can satisfy the immediate need placed before us. When we are hungry, we live in the land of fast food, or the here and now. When we want coffee, there are numerous places whether it be Starbucks or Tim Hortons. When we need stuff, there is usually a mall or shopping center no further than 20 minutes away. While satisfying these needs is not wrong, or a sin, we need to ask ourselves as a church if we live more for the here and now or more for the eternity of our future. 

Esau was one who lived for the here and now. Genesis 25:29-34 says, “Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. And Esau said to Jacob, ‘Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!’ (Therefore his name was called Edom.) Jacob said, ‘Sell me your birthright now.’ Esau said, ‘I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?’ Jacob said, ‘Swear to me now.’ So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.”

More people tend to focus on Jacob in this story when realizing that he forced the hand of his brother. But think on Esau for a bit. We first need to understand the importance of the birthright at this time.  

God uses the divine birthright to bring the birth of His son Jesus Christ. What an amazing blessing to be used in such a way. So a birthright was not only the inheritance and leadership of his family, but he was in the direct line to Jesus! How can Esau give away such a blessing? Esau gives this all up for a bowl of soup. We do not know if Esau was exaggerating here or if he was truly near death. However, John Calvin writes, “It would have been his true wisdom rather to undergo a thousand deaths than to renounce his birthright; which, so far from being confined within the narrow limits of one age alone, was capable of transmitting the perpetuity of a heavenly life to his posterity also.”

Esau missed out on a true blessing to fulfill the here and now. In our own lives, we need to look to the reality of our future instead of the here and now. What is important to me? Is the most important thing about money or success? Is the best choice to climb the corporate ladder? Could it be better to miss a day or two of work to serve the Lord and lead people for eternity to Christ? 

Separation of Lot from Abraham 

Lot’s Life • Devotion #2: Separation of Lot from Abraham
James Clouse | Student Pastor

Have you ever made a decision and instantly regretted it? I know that many times in life I have made decisions that I soon regretted. Whether it was a sin in my life or buying a house at the top of the housing market, I have made some poor choices. Life presents many decisions that we need to seek answers to. Whether the question is which college to go to, which house to buy, or whom to marry there are always important questions that need to be answered. It may not surprise you, but this is nothing new. Through the Bible, we can see numerous times where there is a choice that needs to be made. Abram and Lot had to separate from each other for logistical and peacekeeping reasons. 

Genesis 13:8-13 says what happened, “Then Abram said to Lot, ‘Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.’ And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord.”

Spend a moment focusing on the situation in front of Lot. Lot and Abram have both left their home. They have left everything that is familiar to them to go to a place where the Lord has promised them. But there is strife amongst the families and Lot ends up having to separate from Abram. Abram offers up a choice to Abram of which land to go to. Genesis offers up a detailed situation on how Lot chose which direction to go in where it mentions that “Lot chose for himself.” Lot chose his path on his own and without the Lord’s direction. Lot saw what options were in front of him and which looked more appealing to him. He also saw that the land he chose was closer to Sodom, a very sinful city. 

Things do not go too well for Lot after this poor decision. How often do we as Christians decide on our own what is going to happen next in our lives without God’s direction? Go to God for which direction to go in your life. If you are presented with multiple paths in your life, seek God first.

Being a Blessing 

Abraham’s Call • Devotion #2: Being a Blessing
James Clouse | Student Pastor

My grandparents were a huge blessing to my brother and I growing up. There was a little while where my mom was trying to raise us on her own. I remember the impact that my grandparents had on me. I remember the morning my grandfather taught me how to cut pancakes with a fork and knife to my grandmother took us out to the garden to get vegetables. They were a blessing to us when we needed it. Not only were they a blessing to us but the things that we had learned from them will continue to our children and grandchildren. 

This relates to the call of Abram. If you have never heard of this name before, you may be surprised. God called Abram, or Abraham, out of his home country to take his family to the Promised Land. God tells Abram in Genesis 12:2, “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.”

The Lord here is telling Abram that he will be the father of great nations. God later in Genesis tells Abraham that he will have more descendants then the stars in the sky. The influence that Abraham will have on his descendants will be a blessing to more than he realized at this moment. 

I think this is important for us to remember for our own lives. We need to allow God to use us in His amazing ways. We need to take that step of faith and leave our own comfort zone to let God use us to influence people around us. Abraham would never have been a blessing to his family and to other people if he did not first listen to God and leave his home. 

When we now read through the Bible, we see the history of Abraham and the amazing influence his descendants had on history. My grandparents had an amazing influence on me by helping my mother out when she needed it most. How are you letting God use you as an influence to others around you? How have you taken a step to let God use you as a blessing to others? Sometimes you may not ever see the blessing that you have given to other people.

From the Dust We Shall Rise

Adam & Eve • Devotion #3: From the Dust We Shall Rise
James Clouse | Student Pastor

I do not like waking up in the morning. This is strange because I also do not like going to bed. At night, I will read, watch television, play video games, and numerous other things to not have to go to sleep. My mind is too busy for sleep! But when I need to arise in the morning, there is some bellyaching happening. Most of the time, I will ask Amanda to make coffee and I know I still have a few minutes left before that sweet aroma hits my nostrils. When I awake and start my day, I feel like a brand new man. When I start waking up and walking around, I feel like the world is ready to be explored! 

I can only imagine how Adam felt when God created him. When Adam stood and stretched for the first time, I wonder what was going on through his head. Was there an automatic response to God for creating him? Was he ready to start working the garden that God made right away or did God have to teach him? It is amazing to read the text and let the questions float around in your mind!

Genesis 2:7-8 records, “Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.”

God formed Adam out of the dust that He just created. He took earth and literally molded Adam from His original creation. After God had His perfect model for Adam, He breathed the breath of life into him. Imagine everything that came with that breath of life. God made Adam’s body work physically. Everything that was formed to make the body work was now working. God breathed Adam’s heart and lungs to life. The veins that started pumping Adam’s blood starting working the way God molded them. 

God also breathed a mental life into Adam. Adam’s mind started working as God intended. Adam started to feel the warmth of the air, to see the blueness of the sky, and to see the green of the fields. Adam could now talk with his creator and laugh with his God. 

But most importantly, God now breathed a spiritual existence into Adam. It was a spirit that had a desire to love God and to have companionship with God. This spirit had the desire to love his creator. 

I believe that we are all born to have this same want and desire to love our God. That is how we were formed. We were formed, just as Adam was, and grown in our mother’s womb. God also breathes the breath of life into each of us as we are born and with that comes the physical, mental, and spiritual aspect of our lives. Grow a desire to want that companionship with God as Adam did when he was created.

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