Devotions

Author Archives: Michael Fox

Move Mountains

Gather | Devotion #6: Move Mountains
Michael Fox | Creative Director

Music has always been an interesting influence on my life. I spent the majority of my high school life involved in music. I was in Concert Band, Jazz Band, Marching Band, Men’s Ensemble, and Concert Choir. Looking back, and now having a son of my own, I cannot imagine going to all those events! Worship music, however, was not a major influence until later in my life. I have even found in the past year worship music to be a major part of my worship to and with God. There is something about the music itself, mixed with the lyrics, that really creates a space for a connection with God in my mind.

I remember about a year ago first hearing the song “Do It Again”by Elevation Worship. I was going through a valley in my life, and that song really spoke into my life and helped point me to God.

Walking around these walls
I thought by now they’d fall
But You have never failed me yet
Waiting for change to come
Knowing the battle’s won
For You have never failed me yet

In the first verse of the song, they sing about a well-known story in the Bible where Joshua marched around the walls of Jericho seven times for seven days, and the walls fell, just as God said they would.

Joshua 6:2-5 records, “And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.’”

As I read through these lyrics and also an article on newreleasetoday.comwhere they interview the artists of the song, I reflected on some of the meaning behind this song. One principle that stood out was the first three lines. God has a master plan, but it is easy to want to take that into our own hands, and it is easy only to see it our way. Sometimes we get tired; we wonder where God is. Sometimes we give up or stop trying. But if we stop marching around the walls on the sixth time, we might miss what God has for us on the seventh time around.

Your promise still stands
Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness
I’m still in Your hands This is my confidence;
You’ve never failed me yet


I’ve seen You move; You move the mountains
And I believe, I’ll see You do it again
You made a way, where there was no way
And I believe, I’ll see You do it again

As the song goes on, we sing, “I’ve seen You move, You move the mountains.”My lesson from this is to learn God’s promises and trust and have faith that He will do what He said He would do. He can and will move mountains.

Matthew 17:20 says,“He said to them, ‘Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.’”

Romans 4:3 (NLT) adds,“For the Scriptures tell us, ‘Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.’” 

 

Esau Forgives Jacob 

Jacob & Esau • Devotion #6: Esau Forgives Jacob
Michael Fox | Creative Director

Have you ever needed to be forgiven for something? I have! I have broken things, mistreated friends and family, and used hurtful words. If you have experienced forgiveness, you know how powerful it can be. Ultimately, God has forgiven us for our sin through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. This is a beautiful thing, something we do not deserve. In Genesis chapter 33, we see a picture of forgiveness played out in the story of Jacob and Esau, twin brothers in the Old Testament. 

If you are not familiar with the story, take a moment to read Genesis chapter 27. In Genesis 27:14-19, we see the story unfold when Jacob stole the blessing of his father from Esau, who was entitled to it: “So he went and took them and brought them to his mother, and his mother prepared delicious food, such as his father loved. Then Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her older son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. And the skins of the young goats she put on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. And she put the delicious food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob. So he went into his father and said, ‘My father.’ And he said, ‘Here I am. Who are you, my son?’ Jacob said to his father, ‘I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me.’”

Skipping ahead a little, we see Esau’s reaction to Jacob taking the blessing that was rightfully his. Genesis 27:41 says, “Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, ‘The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.’”

At this point, there was a bit of family drama. One brother stole something that was rightfully his, something rather large. His mother helped him do it. Now, Jacob’s mother encourages him to basically run away and hide, as his brother wants to kill him. Work your way through the story, and in Genesis 33:4 when Jacob and Esau finally meet again, we see forgiveness play out, “But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.”

Is there someone in your life today that you might need to forgive? Is there someone you offended or wronged, and you need to seek forgiveness? As you reflect and pray on this, here are a few promises from God about forgiveness. 

“Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Colossians 3:13

“Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” Luke 17:3-4

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 

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.



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