God’s Treasure Trove of Wisdom

The scripture for Sunday, June 20th is 1 Corinthians 2:6-16

Paul has been encouraging the Corinthian church (1 Cor 1:1-9), correcting them (1 Cor 1:10-17) and asking them to reflect (1 Cor 1:18-30).

Now in 2 Corinthians he first lowers himself and then lifts up Christ (1 Cor 2:1-5). With humility as his lead in, he speaks of seeking out the deep and unfathomable things of God through His Holy Spirit (1 Cor 2:6-16).

God does not leave us “dumb as a box of rocks” but gives access to His secret wisdom through His Spirit. God knows His own mind and shares His beautiful and bountiful treasure trove of Wisdom to those willing to mine for it. 

How does one mine for God’s wisdom? 
* Digging into God’s Word

* Inquiring of God (prayer)

* Listening to God (Word & prayer) often requiring turning off the noise of the world (phones, TV’s, internet, busybodies, our own internal ‘tapes’)

There is a beautiful hymn called “May the Mind of Christ Our Savior” https://youtu.be/Y_ZBhSxWots

How will you take time to worship, reflect, listen and learn from God and His Word, asking Him to impart to you His wisdom? 

No Wise Guys or Tough Guys

No Wise Guys or Tough Buys Before the Lord by Deneen Hanson

Are you familiar with the phrase, “you are dumb as a box of rocks?” Ouch!

Paul confirms for the church in Corinth that without God there are no ‘wisemen’, only ‘wise guys’ who make fools of themselves before the LORD! (1 Cor 1:18-27). True wisdom only comes through God’s Word and God’s Son, Jesus.

God equips the lowly and weak with His wisdom, strength and power, so that we can fulfill our purpose in life: glorify and magnify the LORD in our thoughts, words and deeds. If we slack in that, Jesus declares that even the rocks would cry out if His followers would cease to proclaim Him as their King, “blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.” (from His triumphant entry into Jerusalem in Luke 19:40)

My dad was a strong guy – strong in his character, body and mind. In fact, he comes from a stock of Welsh quarrymen. For fun, he loved to stop and pick up boulders in the ditch for landscaping. He was academia/science minded as well, but spiritually dead. In his wisdom he reasoned that God would not send a ‘good’ person to Hell. He knew enough to know he needed the faith that he did not have. He started attending Bible study but regularly Googled for the answers, instead of prayerfully looking for answers from the Bible.

He was strong until he wasn’t. Lymphoma left his body weak and his mind reeling. On 24-hour oxygen, I helped into bed those final weeks asking what he would like prayer for. He apologized and confessed that he had started praying a ‘childish’ prayer: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the LORD my soul to keep. If I die before I wake, I pray the LORD my soul to take.”

His voice broke when he pointed out that he used to be so strong and now he needed help to get into bed. The truths of Paul came out of my mouth that night. “Dad, I think God has let you get weak so He can show you how strong He is. He can take you the rest of the way.”

He asked for prayer for faith and then the next night for faith and forgiveness. The following night his two-word prayer request was, “In Christ.” 1 Cor 1:30 says “and because of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” Praise God hallelujah! The following night he asked for salvation and the next I asked him to lead the bedtime prayer and he simply said, “Thank you, God.”

As it turned out, his faith did not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God (1 Cor 2:5).

Just as with my dad, it can be a release and a relief to realize God does not ask us to be smart enough or strong enough because He is enough. 

1 Cor 1:18-2:5

Scripture for this coming Sunday, June 13th is 1 Cor 1:18-2:5

We continue a four week look at the church. Read through 1 Cor 1:18-2:5 each day this week in preparation for Sunday’s sermon. 

Ask yourself these questions:

1) What or who is my ‘go to’ source for wisdom and insight?

 2) What do you boast in the most?

3) What questions about God, His plan or timing do you wrestle with? Write them down and place them in your Bible. Date the paper and purpose to seek God and His Word for the answers.

4) How this week will you pray for God’s strength, wisdom and power to be seen in the staff and in our church?

The Church Devotional

I have thought and thought and meditated on how God wants to apply these truths about unity to the Church global, our church local and my little part of the body.

I was often drawn back to the W.W.J.D. (what would Jesus do) mode. What would Jesus do in a pandemic, in the world of believers, at Riverview and in my heart and life? Jesus would love God and others. He would put others first. In verse 10, Paul asks the Corinthians to agree, to have no divisions, to be united with the same mind and judgment. O’ for the days where church disagreements were based on somewhat benign issues such as carpet color or worship style!

We’ve all become accustomed to the phrase “essential” and here Paul is asking the church to agree on the essentials of salvation in Christ, not carpet color, worship style, mask wearing or shot getting. We don’t follow men and men’s ideas but God in the man God of Jesus Christ. The Evangelical Free Church of American (EFCA) often turns to the idea of “in essentials, unity. In non-essentials, charity (love). In all things, Jesus Christ.” https://go.efca.org/resources/document/efca-distinctives

Christ is not divided and as His body, the Church, is not to be divided because we are to be of one mind, the very mind of Christ. The mind of men, whether they be theologians or politicians, are errant and will divide. To keep our eyes on Christ and His Word brings healing, unity and a strong witness to a lost and dying world. 

We can have unity in the above, but in the details we see disunity. Differences exist in how COVID-19 should be addressed. Christ alone can convict each heart on what loving others as ourselves looks like, lived out. But, above all, this text cries out from the ages to let Christ lead us. Let His finished work be our battle cry, “lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” v. 17.

The Church

1 Corinthians 1:1-17 Scripture for Sunday June 6th

This coming Sunday starts a three week look at what God wants for His Church. In preparation, read 1 Corinthians 1:1-17 and ask yourself these questions:

1) What qualities does God desire of the Church global?

 2) From the text, what is Paul warning the Corinthian church against?

3) Where does the power to accomplish these things come from?

4) How would someone new walking into our church body describe our church?

5) How will you pray for God to be glorified in your life as you participate in the body, the Church.

Where is God in all of this?

Exodus 14 – Crossing the Red Sea – Written by Ruth Palmquist

The Exodus begins with the people of Israel walking in formation for war, through the wilderness on a desert road. It was not by way of the shorter road, but the longer desert road. (Ex. 13:17). 

They camped near the desert’s edge and then back tracked and camped between the Red Sea and a town called Migdol. (Ex. 14:2).

Pharaoh had ordered the Israelites to leave after the 10th plague, but with a change of heart and realizing the ramifications of the people of Israel being gone, he set off to overtake them with his officers and 600 of the best chariots. (Ex. 14:5-9). Pharaoh had a change of heart; God once again hardened Pharaoh’s heart.

Terror and fear overtook the Israelites before the Egyptians even had a chance to overtake them. They saw the Egyptians approaching. They were done! “Would it not have been better to stay in Egypt,” was their cry.  (Ex 14:10-12).

Where was God in all this? He is in all of this….

The longer road was God’s direction and protection for the people.  The shorter easier route would have brought them by the land of the Philistines (remember Goliath). God did not want His people to be caught in war with the Philistines and thus give up and go back to Egypt. (Ex. 13:17)

God directed the back tracking to entice the Egyptians in their effort to overtake Israel. They would think that the Israelites were confused. God knows the bigger picture…this is for God to gain glory for Himself and for all of Egypt to know that He is God.  It seems the Egyptians should recognize this after 10 plagues, but God again hardened Pharaoh’s heart for His ultimate glory. (Ex 14:1-4).

God’s presence and direction were visible and obvious all day and night. At night a pillar of fire led them and lighted the way. During the day, a pillar of cloud led them. They could travel day or night to leave Egypt behind in their past. (Ex 13:21-22). 

That is, until the Egyptians were behind them…God’s presence and protection moved behind in the cloud and in front in the fire. The cloud blocked the Egyptians from seeing Israel. The fire led them toward the Red Sea.  Yet again, the hopeless trapped feeling arose as they approached the Red Sea.  Moses’ response: Do not be afraid. Stand firm. You will see God’s deliverance today. You will never see these Egyptians again. The Lord will fight for you. Be still. (Ex. 14:13,14,19,20).

Moses obeyed God’s direction to hold his staff over the Red Sea. The Lord sent the wind to blow all night and stack up the water so the Israelites could walk to the other side on dry land.  (Ex. 14:21).

The Egyptian army followed along… BUT God threw them into confusion with their chariot wheels malfunctioning. They recognized the hand of God was fighting for Israel and made their best attempt to flee. BUT God directed Moses to stretch out his hand over the sea. He obeyed and all the water returned into the Red Sea and not one Egyptian lived to tell about it. (Ex. 14:30-31).

When the road we travel seems long and lonely, when fear and terror enter our hearts and minds, when there seems to be no hope. BUT God… But God still directs the happenings. But God can do more than  we could ask or imagine. But God is our confidence and strength. Be still and know that he is God. (Ps 46:10).

Do not miss the conclusion to the Red Sea events and a possible example for you to follow today… Moses and the people of Israel feared the Lord, put their trust in the Lord and sang a song of praise to the Lord. (Ex. 14:29-15:1).

A Red Sea God

Exodus 14 Scripture for this Sunday, May 23rd

In this text we see that we have a Red Sea God not a Red ‘stream’ God!  This moment will be upheld in Hebrew history as a reminder of how big, mighty and powerful God is. The saying goes that if God brings you to it, God will bring you through it. Yet, in the middle of the mess, we often are a mess.

1) Read through the text to see the Israelites’ response to their mess (Ex 14:11-12)

2) How today could you be encouraged by Moses’ words in Ex 14:13?

3) How can you glorify God by recounting the times He has worked in and through past, impossible situations for your good and His glory?

Trust & Obey

Weekly devotional by Penny Olson

Trust and Obey – Promises Kept

When I was approached to consider taking a turn to do a devotional, I was pretty much a Moses…. No, not me, pick somebody else. But here I am, still kind of like a Moses again, doing what God has asked of me.

The scripture for this week is Exodus 12:29-13. 

These verses talk about the last plague, the start of the exodus journey, the Passover, the consecration of the first born, the Feast of Unleavened Bread commemorating the Lord’s rescue of the Israelites from Egypt and the Pillars of Cloud & Fire guiding them safely on the path to the promised land.  One seemingly incidental verse kept drawing me back to it, as I thought of the title I chose for this devotional – 13: 19 “Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here.” 

Joseph had been sold into slavery by his own brothers & had endured many hardships & trials during his time in Pharaoh’s service. But Joseph had remained faithful to God throughout all of this & had been rewarded well. His faith & trust in God’s promise to bring His people into the land of the Canaanites, though he did not know when that would happen, is just one example of the kind of faith we should all strive for ourselves. Monumental!  

Contrast Joseph’s life of trust & faith in God to that of the Israelite people in the time of the exodus from captivity. At almost every turn, the people lamented ever leaving the familiarity of captivity & having to endure hardships & trials along the way. They rebelled & were often disobedient. Yet God remained faithful to them, despite their unfaithfulness & He took them out of slavery & led them to the land of Canaan, as He had promised.  (Promises Kept)

Joseph’s dying words from Genesis 50: 24-26 “And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” 25 Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” 26 So Joseph died, being 110 years old. They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.” His request affirmed the faithful trust in God that he lived out until his old age & death; faith in a promise that he did not even know if he would be blessed to experience himself.  

(Trust & Obey)

Now the challenge: how are you, going to grow that Joseph kind of faith & live it out until your dying day?

Thank you Lord Jesus for your promises kept. Help my unbelief.

Exodus 12:29-13:22

Scripture for Sunday, May 16

The Passover

Again, there is a lot going on in this week’s passage. It is important to take time prior to this Sunday to ask God to teach you directly and personally, from the text.

Look for S.P.E.C.S.:

S) Sins to forsake

P) Promises to claim

E) Examples to follow

C) Commands to obey

S) Stumbling blocks to avoid

God Saves!

Devotional written by Deneen Hanson

Exodus 11 & 12 the historical record of the Passover, are worthy of reading in an overarching theme way: God Saves!

And, they are worthy of re-reading to “mine” them for rich applications for our lives today:

1. Rely on God: He keeps His promises, as He did to free Israel (Ex 12:25)

2. Respect His judgment: It is sure and swift, as well as just (Ex 11:5, Ex 12:12)

3. Trust God’s providence: He is the author of life & writes our “stories” 

4. Follow His directions: this reflects our attentiveness to His work (Ex 12)

5. Do Not harden your heart toward God or others (Ex 11:10)

6. Worship God in body, mind and spirit, with gratitude for our salvation (Ex 12:27)

7. Regularly commemorate His goodness & provision in history and in your life (Ex 12:14)

The Passover was both a real historical event and a distinguishing moment in history, eternally marking those who run to other gods and those who choose to follow the one true God (Ex 11:7).

Today, how will you brush off these dusty pages of history to see that God Saves!? His Word applies afresh to us today! With the power of sacrificial blood, God saved the Israelites and He saves us today! Accepting Christ’s blood marks believers eternally with the Holy Spirit. God saves! He gives us a place in His plan. He gives us purpose, a hope and a future. He saves! He saves us from a life of futility, despair as well as from the powers of sin, Satan and death! God Saves!

Praise God!