Devotions

Author Archives: James Mann

Government • Devotion #6: Why?

I do not know about you, but I do not always agree with the decisions made by the people that are put in charge. I am a headstrong individual who knows what I want, and I am not going to bend on those things. I can easily find myself in the mindset, “I am right, and no matter how you explain yourself, you are wrong.” This mindset can easily find you in a hard place in dealing with who is in charge. I do not know about you, but when someone explains to me biblically why something is the way that it is, I may not like it, but I cannot argue it. We are going to be doing just that with the question of, “Why is this person the boss?” You can also ask the question, “Why must I submit to this person?”

This question can quickly be answered by looking to Romans 13:1-2, which says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” Before I even break this down, I want to clarify something. Many people will argue and say that the “authorities” that are discussed here are angels. This can be disproven by looking at Romans 13:6. Here, we are called to pay taxes to these authorities. We do not pay taxes to angels, but we do to the earthly authorities. This tells us that the Bible is, in fact, talking about those authorities.

There is something important in Romans 13:1-2 that we need to hear and understand clearly. God has appointed these authorities. We may not agree with everything they say or do, but God appointed them. We are not above God; therefore, we are not above those whom God has placed above us. We might even argue that the things the authorities are doing are ungodly deeds. Since these people are above us, they are not for us to judge and deal with, that is God’s position. As believers, we only have two things we must do in the matters of the authorities. First of all, we must follow them because God has appointed them. Second, the only time that we can resist these powers is when they demand the position that is only allowed to God. We can see this played out in the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. King Nebuchadnezzar demanded to be treated like a god, and these men would not obey. We can read this story and watch God protect these men because they were following Him.

What this means for us is that we should follow those whom God has placed in the position of authority and understand that He is in control. We should find comfort in that when things do not go the way we want. 

To a Tee

Tabernacle | Devotion 6: To a Tee
James Mann

I want to try something a little different with this devotional. Please do me a favor. Before reading this devotion, read Exodus 40:1-33.

Welcome back. If you are wondering why I have asked you to read this chapter before reading the devotion, it is because what happens here is very interesting. In verses 1-15, we see the Lord talking to Moses and explaining to him how he is to build the tabernacle. Then reading verses 16-33, we see Moses following God’s orders to a tee. You might be asking why I am bringing up this obvious point. The purpose is to point out that Moses understands the importance of following God’s plans.

See, in our lives, God has a plan laid out for us. We often have a plan set in our heads that does not coincide with what God wants for us. Moses could have listened to all of these demands that the Lord gave him and said that He was too picky or that Moses had his own idea for the tabernacle. Here is the deal; we do not see the big picture. Our point of view is so minuscule in the grand scheme of things. Should we not listen to the One who can see all and know all?

The purpose of the tabernacle is revealed to us in verses 36-37, “Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up.”

This tabernacle became the guide of the Israelites throughout their journey. Within this tabernacle contained the glory of the Lord. In our lives, we should also be carrying the glory of the Lord wherever we go. While we are definitely lucky not to have to carry around a tabernacle, we should be treating our bodies as the vessel in which we show others the glory of God. I challenge you to take time and listen to God, as Moses did, and then follow Him in your life.

Shake Your Head

Water, Manna, & Quail | Devotion 6: Shake Your Head
James Mann

As we enter into Exodus 17:1-7, we come across the people of Israel leaving the Wilderness of Sin. This is one of the many times where we come across the people of Israel questioning Moses and God. In the previous chapter of Exodus, we see these same people complaining about the lack of food, and now they are complaining about the lack of water. This is one of those “shake your head” moments where you question whether the Israelites will ever learn to put their faith in God. Moses takes this opportunity of frustration and turns the situation back on the Israelites by asking, “Why do you test the Lord?” Why, after being delivered from the hands of Pharaoh, would these Israelites continue to question God’s plan for them? The exciting thing is, God still takes care of His people even after they question Him. Even after they question His motives, God still uses Moses to go upon the rock and strike water from it. We know this is not the first time that we see the Israelites questioning God, and as we continue to read, we will see this is definitely not the last time either. This moment is brought up again in Deuteronomy 6:16. After God fulfills all of His promises to His people, Moses brings up the foolishness of God’s people for ever doubting Him.

We often read through the Israelites time in the wilderness and laugh at how blind they are to God’s presence and plan for their lives. We get frustrated to see how many times people can ignore God when times get challenging. We are able to feel these emotions because we are reading about the story after it has already taken place. Now change your point of view for a moment. Pretend you are reading the story of your life. Pretend everything you have ever done is laid out before you in the form of a book. Would you read through and feel proud of your walk with God from cover to cover? Even though I laugh at the way the Israelites act, I believe my life would look a lot like this. When times get challenging, we either work in one of two ways. We either act like the Israelites in verse three and question God and quarrel with one another, or we act like Moses in verse four and lean on God in our times of need. In this passage, we see Moses stand out from the pack by showing the real qualities of what a leader looks like. I pray that in your times of trouble and need that you act like Moses did here, and ask God for His guidance in what is going on in your life.

The God of Promises

Burning Bush | Devotion 6: The God of Promises
James Mann

Exodus 3:13-22 gives us a promise that God has for His people. “I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt, and I PROMISE that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt…” (verse 16). In our society, promises, and even people’s word, do not carry the same amount of weight as they once did. Everyone reading this can think of a time that someone made a promise that ended up not coming to fruition. This is difficult due to the fact we are imperfect beings. We are also limited in what we can actually accomplish. We have outside factors that may make it impossible to follow through with a promise. I think that we often take for granted the fact that we have a God that controls everything. This even goes for these outside factors.

We need to start looking at these promises that God makes with His people throughout the Bible and realize the weight that they carry. Joshua 23:14 tells us, “And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed.” This verse shows us just how powerful these promises are. As we read throughout the Bible, we can see all of God’s promises, whether they are about supplying what is needed, protection, or deliverance, and we can see them come true.

This section in Exodus is so important because it is God promising to guide His people out of Egypt. From the Israelites’ point of view, this probably seemed impossible. They had been under the control of Pharaoh for hundreds of years. They got to the point where they had lost all hope. God was able to provide them this hope. If we look through the Bible and remember the weight that His promises hold, we should be strengthened and encouraged during our times of struggle. One example I like to turn to is Isaiah 41:10, which tells us, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” These are the kinds of promises that God has given to us, which held meaning then, should hold meaning to us now, and will continue until long after we are gone.

Freezer Burn

Leftovers | Devotion #2: Freezer Burn
James Mann | Children’s Director

“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” Ephesians 4:25-27

One of my most favorite freezer foods is chicken taquitos. Nothing is better than pulling out the George Foreman Grill and cooking up a half box of those in the middle of the day. The problem is what you do with the other half of the box. My dad tells me that I am like a bull in a china shop, and he is not wrong. I demolish the box as soon as I try to open it. So, the next viable option is to put the leftovers in a plastic bag. Since I have the focus of a toddler, sometimes I do not check to make sure the bag is completely closed. You can fill in the blanks from there. I go back a few weeks later to finish the second half of the bag, and they are all freezer burned. 

We have been learning about the things that are left over after the problems within the family. One option that many of us take is to put the issues into the freezer and forget about them until we think we need to work through it. Sometimes we think life is easier if we avoid hard situations. Sometimes you will think that going to bed and trying again in the morning will solve all your worldly problems. The truth is, when we open our eyes in the morning, our reality is still the same. God has warned us about these situations. We cannot let the issues within the family sit in the freezer. If it festers, it will grow in severity until it is out of our control, and any chance of reconciliation has diminished. It is these moments where we need to drop everything and focus on the family with which God has blessed us. Do not put the important things in your life in the freezer.



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