Devotions

Author Archives: Michael Fox

Who was the Serpent?

The Fall • Devotion #2: Who was the Serpent?
Michael Fox | Creative Director

“And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’’ But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened.” Genesis 3:2-7

“Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’” Genesis 3:13

The serpent is a deceiver. As I have studied this passage of Scripture, this truth jumped out at me. I have heard the story of Adam and Eve many times. I always knew the serpent tempted them to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. I always knew that they were previously told by God not to eat from that tree.

For me, many times going through life, I think that there is good and evil, and in spite of the many disguises, I recognize evil. While I do not actually believe I know all evil, that is a general truth that I choose to live my life. We make daily choices to avoid evil, and seek out good. We often fail, and God provides grace and mercy.

This passage, however, has reminded me and opened my eyes. Evil can be presented as good, as it was here with Adam and Eve. It is our job to seek out the scriptures, to know what God says. Psalm 119:11 says, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” The serpent convinced Eve that if she ate of that tree, that she “will be like God, knowing good and evil.” She was deceived. This is a tool I believe the devil will use against us, pretending to be good, trying to convince us that we do not know what we talk about, and allowing us to believe evil is good.

Remembering this, and seeking God through the Scripture will help us combat the serpent, a deceiver. 

Listen, too!

Guidance • Devotion #5: Listen, too!
Michael Fox | Creative Director

“Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’” Matthew 6:9-13

Prayer is a vital part of our life as a Christian. It is our way to communicate with God, and He communicates in return through the Word of God. Today we are looking at Matthew 6:13, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” It is good to take a look at a few verses that speak about temptation and provide guidance.

 “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

 “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.” James 1:13

 “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Matthew 4:1

There are two things I notice from these verses. First, temptation comes from Satan. Second, God will not let us be tempted beyond our ability. He provides tools to help us avoid and get through temptation. Recently, a friend reminded me of one of these tools being the Armor of God.

Take some time to read and learn from Ephesians 6:10-18 which describes the Armor of God as the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shoes fitted with the Gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the Sword of the Spirit.

Take time to pray, share what trials and temptations you are facing, have a conversation with God, and then read His Word and allow Him to speak to you through His teaching and instruction to help lead you away from temptation.

Patience

Immanuel | Devotion #6: Patience
Michael Fox | Creative Director

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.” Matthew 1:23

One of the names of God in the Bible is Immanuel, which means God with Us. This month, we are talking about expecting. The ultimate expectation as a Christian is we expect Him to come back to fulfill His promises. When will He come back? That is a normal question for us to ask, as it is hard for us to comprehend fully how God works. That can take patience.

Now that I am grown and have a child of my own, I sometimes reflect on the patience my parents must have had raising me. Having patience going through trials with your children, or teaching them to have patience in situations, is a difficult task. The reward, though, when you witness your child fight through waiting and be patient for something is great. The Bible speaks about waiting on the Lord in a lot of places, and suggests that it is a good thing.

Psalm 37:9 says, “For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.” Psalm 27:14 adds, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

In an article by James S. Spiegel, he defines patience, “to endure discomfort without complaint.” He goes on to say, “This calls into play some other virtues, specifically, self-control, humility, and generosity.” The Bible also talks about patience as a part of the Fruit of the Spirit: Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

This got me thinking about what God might want to teach us through these times of patience and waiting on the Lord. Reflecting back at the name of God, Immanuel, shouts that God is with us. He does promise that He will be with us at all times, through all our trials, even when we do not want to be patient. He calls us to lean on and trust Him.

Growth Takes Time

Grow | Devotion #2: Growth Takes Time
Michael Fox | Creative Director

Growth takes time. I was reminded of this recently through my son’s school project, and I remember the same project from when I was a child. He brought home a white Styrofoam cup full of soil, with grass seed planted in it. The instructions were to regularly add water and place in the sunlight. After some time, grass would grow. I have always been amazed watching things grow from almost nothing. A little seed can transform into some really neat and different things, but it always takes time. 

Recently, I was reflecting on my spiritual growth over time. I know in my life there have been many high times of growth and also many low times of growth. I wondered why we are called to grow. I began to read an article from allaboutgod.com which pointed me to 2 Peter 1:3-8.  

2 Peter 1:3-8 says, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

The article goes on to summarize that spiritual growth is becoming more like Jesus Christ. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”

I know that one of my goals in serving Jesus with my life is to share His love for others and what Jesus did for them by dying on the cross and saving them. The best way I know to do this is to imitate Him, and others will see Christ through me. This is a large task, one that I will work towards for the rest of my life. 2 Peter chapter 1 mentions knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, and godliness; these are all qualities I hope to develop in my daily life. We are called to study God’s Word to gain knowledge. The passage also states, “For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective.” I want to be effective in serving God, and I need knowledge in Him to be effective.

I desire to increase in His knowledge. Practically, for me, this looks like surrounding myself with other believers in a Growth Community, who will help point me towards God’s Word and continue growing. Growing takes time.

Caiaphas

Lesson Fifteen | Devotion #2: Caiaphas
Mike Fox | Creative Director

Romans 3:23 – “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

Romans 5:8 “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 

Romans 10:9 – “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” 

Romans 10:13 – “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

The above passages all come from the well known “Romans Road to Salvation.” Many of us have been taught to use this to present the Gospel to someone and show them the path to salvation. This is the very foundation upon which all Christians live. One of the key pieces in the Scripture here is that Christ died for us. He took our sin and bled His blood for it.

We have been looking at World Changers in the Bible recently, and I would like to take a quick look at Caiaphas. Caiaphas played a pretty key role in fulfilling God’s ultimate plan.

Matthew 26:57 says, “Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered.” Here, and in several other places in the Bible, we learn that Caiaphas was the high priest at the time that Jesus died on the cross. Hebrews 5:1 explains what a high priest does, “For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.” Before Jesus becoming the final sacrifice, the high priest would offer sacrifices to God for man’s sin.

John 11:47-53 says, “So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, ‘What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.’ But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.’ He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.”

Several scholars conclude that it was Caiaphas who, unknowingly, made the incredible prophecy concerning God’s plan of sacrificing Jesus for the sins of the nation and even the whole world (John 11:49-50). Also, it was Caiaphas who ultimately sent Jesus to Pilate to be sentenced to death. I believe this shows a picture that God can use us to help fulfill His plan and help change the world, whether we know that we are a part of it or not.



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