Author Archives: James Mann

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.

Sphere of Influence

Back to Reach | Devotion #5: Sphere of Influence
James Mann | Children’s Director

This idea of “Reach, Gather, and Grow” has always been an interesting idea to me. Too often, I see people reaching Grow and stopping. Why is going back to Reach so important to me? Quite simply, someone going back to Reach is what brings the unsaved through the door. It can be so simple for us to reach Grow, stay there, and focus solely on our relationship with God. This is not God’s plan for us, and we are selfish by thinking otherwise. 

Matthew 9:37-38 says, “Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’” 

We should be viewing the idea of going back to Reach as a blessing and an honor to be a part of, not a burden. I want you to take a moment and think about how you came to the Lord. When was the first time you heard someone preach God’s Word? Some of you reading this may have been born and raised in the church. For those who were not or those who stepped away from the church, you probably came back due to someone going back to Reach. Reach is simply getting the Word of God out to the nonbelievers. With this thought process, you could be going back to Reach by just inviting someone to a church activity. This is why we have our Reach events for all age groups. 

As the Children’s Director of our Goodrich location, I believe it is crucial to teach children at a young age what this idea of going back to Reach looks like as well as what they can do to be a part of it. I tell the children that as a mid-20’s male, my Reach is limited. I can make phone calls, write emails, send text messages, and talk to families all day, but I am just one person. If they were to reach out to those that they already have relationships with, it is more meaningful, and they are more likely to come. The same goes for us adults. If we all step out of our comfort zones and invite those that we have relationships with to hear God’s Word, we are doing what God commanded us to do. Like the verse above tells us, there are a lot of people out there who have not heard God’s Word, and they are just waiting. We need those who can and will go out into the world and deliver the Good News. That is the purpose of us going back to Reach.

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