Category Archive : Big Bear Lake

Daily Devotional: Epic Fails

Daily Devotional Overview:

This 14-day reading plan explores the stories of men and women of the Bible who messed up big time, but people that God still chose to use for His purposes. Learn from some of the Bible’s heaviest hitters while being encouraged in your own walk with God.Daily Devotional: Epic Fails – Day 3

Key Scriptures:

  •  Ecclesiastes 1:2

Devotional:

“‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ’Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’”

The great King Solomon proclaimed these words as he penned Ecclesiastes near the end of his life. Having given into many whims, desires, and temptations throughout his life, the king declared with certainty that all was meaningless. That every worldly desire left him empty.

Solomon didn’t start out wayward. He was born to godly parents–although they made their own fair share of mistakes–and raised in a home that nurtured his future. He was made King over Israel and had everything he could ever want, including a godly wife and God’s great task to build the temple. In 1 Kings 3 his greatest prayer is for wisdom, which God answers more than he could have hoped for. Not only does Solomon become the wisest man to ever live, but God blesses him with riches and honor for his heart’s pure desire.

Solomon started off strong but he let temptation get a firm hold on his life. Solomon ended up pursuing so many of the world’s offerings. I really encourage you to take time today and this week to read the book of Ecclesiastes, because it will give you a pretty good idea of all that he pursued; he goes so far as to say that he denied himself nothing his eyes desired. He satisfied his lust for women; having hundreds of wives and concubines. He amassed great wealth and property which he delighted himself in. Solomon denied himself of nothing; he had everything he thought he could ever want, but it came with a price.

Sin creates distance between us and God; not because He loves us any less but because sin breaks His heart. It makes us less like Him and more like the Deceiver. As Solomon reflects on the way he lived his life, he makes a plea for people to follow God in their youth. Reading Ecclesiastes I believe that Solomon wished he could have done it all differently.

You might be dabbling with some of the things of this world. Perhaps you’re heading into a trial and your first, second, or third instinct may be to seek comfort in this world. If this is you, flee from temptation. Learn from the mistakes of the wisest person who ever lived. Resolve to embrace that the things of this world pale in comparison to our beautiful God and that everything is meaningless outside of Him. No desire, accumulation of wealth, advancement, or person will fill the aches you might feel in your soul. Only God can reach those places and love you the way you long to be loved.

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Daily Devotional: Epic Fails

Daily Devotional Overview:

This 14-day reading plan explores the stories of men and women of the Bible who messed up big time, but people that God still chose to use for His purposes. Learn from some of the Bible’s heaviest hitters while being encouraged in your own walk with God.Daily Devotional: Epic Fails – Day 3

Key Scriptures:

  •  2 Samuel 11:1-27
  •  2 Samuel 24:1-25
  • 1 Kings 1:29

Devotional:

A boy–the youngest in a large family–chosen out of obscurity to be the next king of Israel. A teenager inexperienced in war up against an infamous giant; granted victory with a slingshot. A young man with access to the king and given in marriage to a princess. A soldier granted triumph over his enemies and the adoration of a country.

David was a man after God’s own heart–the only to be described so poetically–who had everything a man could ever want. He perseveres through every trial, holding firm to his faith in God in incredibly dark storms. Through his early battles as an adult, David didn’t waver or doubt his circumstances but believed that God would be good to him. And He was good, indeed. Rarely do we see such obvious favor on a person as we see on David.

After the many years as king, things began to take a turn for David; not because God’s favor diminished, but because David grew complacent. When David should have been at war, his lack of obedience left him in a vulnerable place that led him to temptation, and ultimately, sin. David had an affair with a married woman named Bathsheba, conceived a child with her, and had her husband killed in war.

No doubt being in the wrong place leaves us vulnerable to temptation, which can lead to sin if not careful. Thankfully God forgave David but it did cost him his child.

The fact that David also had many wives led to great trouble. With many children born into a divided family a family feud was inevitable. David’s eldest son raped his half-sister, and her full brother then killed the firstborn son when David would do nothing to reprove the man. That same son who committed murder would then drive David out of the city and attempt to overthrow him as king. These heartaches could have been avoided if David had stayed true to God’s word, but he let his desires for women get the best of him.

Another major fail of David is the census he conducts in 2 Samuel 24 which God had commanded to Moses not be done. As a result of giving into the temptation and playing into pride, God judged Israel for three days–70,000 men died. When the angel reached out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, God grieved and had mercy on His people.

David’s mistakes affected thousands of people, and ours affects others as well. No sin or mistake is kept hidden; they cannot remain only your burden. Through it all, however, God is good and He uses it for His purposes. I love what David shares at the end of His life as he reflects on God. In 1 Kings 1:29 he proclaims,

“And the king swore, saying, ‘As the Lord lives, who has redeemed my soul out of every adversity.’”

David made mistakes and he admits he’s been through a lot as a result, BUT, through it all God was there for him. And God is there for you.

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Daily Devotional: Epic Fails

Daily Devotional Overview:

This 14-day reading plan explores the stories of men and women of the Bible who messed up big time, but people that God still chose to use for His purposes. Learn from some of the Bible’s heaviest hitters while being encouraged in your own walk with God.Daily Devotional: Epic Fails – Day 3

Key Scriptures:

  • Judges 16:4-31

Devotional:

Samson was born to a woman who for many years was barren. But then an angel of the Lord appeared to her and told her she had conceived, and provided some guidelines for her and her son. The key rule she had to follow concerned her son, who was to save Israel from the Philistines. She was told to not let a razor touch his head, for he was to be a Nazarite.

Samson was born and did keep this one law for much of his life, although many of the unspoken Nazarite laws he did not. He married a Philistine woman and had sexual relations with women he was not married to. He ate honey from a dead animal, which would have been unclean. I also can’t help but pick up a hint of pride and disrespect for his parents. Perhaps his greatest weakness was women; he struggled with lust more than once.

However, God had divinely chosen Samson, and His favor was on the man for many years and indeed used him in many ways. From what we read in the Bible, Samson killed 1,030 Philistines before being captured by them. He made such a huge dent that he caught the attention of the Philistine leaders and was pursued by them on multiple occasions.

It’s not until he gives into his lust for Delilah that he is captured. Three times Delilah asks Samson what his weakness is, and three times he lies. Three times the Philistines rush in to capture Samson and each time he prevails. You’d think at this point Samson would dump her, or at least not tell Delilah his true source of strength. But he doesn’t, and the fourth time he is asked he does tell her where his strength comes from. At that, she cuts his hair when he’s sleeping and the Philistines capture him. The great Samson is blinded, mocked, and left to the status of a prisoner, all because of his lust for women and lack of obedience.

His hair begins to grow back, and at a party with thousands of the most powerful Philistines he prays to God for strength one final time to bring the building down in a final blow to Israel’s enemies. I’m so moved by his prayer because it’s the most humble and God-focused prayer he utters. Having been stripped from it all–physical strength, freedom, sight, pleasure, pride–Samson finally finds a spiritual strength he always lacked.

Samson’s epic fail was a thirst for the things of this world, fulfilling lust, and not learning from his past mistakes. His story shows us that pursuing these things will only bring us down and hurt us. That refusing to learn from our past will be our fall. Take cues from your pitfalls and draw boundaries that will protect you from repeating the past.

I’m thankful to see that Samson finished strong; he connected with God and went out victoriously. Even though he didn’t steward his gift well, God still graciously blessed him for His purposes and, in the end, used him greater than ever before. With his final breath, Samson killed more Philistines than he had in his whole life up to that moment.

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Daily Devotional: Epic Fails

Daily Devotional Overview:

This 14-day reading plan explores the stories of men and women of the Bible who messed up big time, but people that God still chose to use for His purposes. Learn from some of the Bible’s heaviest hitters while being encouraged in your own walk with God.Daily Devotional: Epic Fails – Day 3

Key Scriptures:

  • Exodus 32:1-35
  •  Numbers 12:1-16

Devotional:

Aaron and Miriam were the siblings of Moses and played a significant part in Israel’s journey out of Egypt. Aaron was appointed a prophet and Miriam a prophetess in the nation of Israel, leaders chosen purely out of God’s grace.

Their first major mistake–and it’s a big one–comes to play in Exodus 32 while Moses is on Mount Sinai receiving the 10 Commandments from God. While Moses is up there Aaron was left to oversee the nation. It’s really quite sad what happens next. Moses had been up on the mountain for a while and the people began to worry. So Aaron proposes they make a golden calf to worship. Moses is literally hearing from God about the sin of idolatry and the people are below doing this very thing.

The people form a golden calf and begin making offerings and worshiping it, which led to sin and immorality. God informs Moses of what’s happening and he is very angry, understandably. In fact, we learn in Deuteronomy 9:20 that God was so angry with Aaron He wanted to kill him until Moses interceded. But then Moses sees it all for himself and is angry as well, confronting Aaron. It gets worse here as Aaron blames the people and lies to say the calf appeared on its own in the fire (which Aaron had fashioned with his own hands).

I really want to shake my head at Aaron in disappointment and admonish his mistake because it’s so obvious what he did was wrong. But then I take a look at my own life and I can’t say I’m any better. Chances are you can’t either if you’re honest. I know I’ve had a time or two I lost sight of God–felt like He was distant–and out of fear or discouragement I turned to something unhealthy in this world.

Moving on, there is a moment in Numbers 12 when both Aaron and Miriam undermine and disrespect their brother Moses, who is the appointed leader over the people of Israel. I’m truly intrigued by this story because there are so many layers to it. On the surface they seem to be opposing Moses for marrying a Cushite; someone outside of their community. Perhaps they looked down upon Moses for marrying her? Another suggestion is that Miriam (who led the charge against Moses) was jealous her position as a female leader in the community would be threatened by his wife. Maybe it was an excuse for other ill feelings they had against Moses. Perhaps the best answer lies in their own envy of Moses’ leadership as stated in verse 2.

The Lord hears this conversation and immediately calls them and Moses together to address the situation and take up defense for Moses (a subtle reminder God takes up our cause!). At that God addresses their envy. Yes, they are prophets and He speaks to prophets through dreams and visions, but Moses is more than a prophet. With Moses alone does He talk with face to face. God makes it clear there is a distinct difference in His relationship with Moses. He then brings leprosy upon Miriam and she is cast out of the community for seven days.

Again, I can’t help but see Miriam and Aaron’s sin in my own past. Comparison, which leads to envy, inflicts us all at one point or another. May we be reminded to check our own comparison of others lest we become envious and sin in our heart, against others, and against God.

Aaron and Miriam made mistakes–idolatry, lying, envy–but God was still gracious, loving, and forgiving towards them and used them to be leaders in the nation of Israel in a very pivotal time in history.

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Daily Devotional: Epic Fails

Daily Devotional Overview:

This 14-day reading plan explores the stories of men and women of the Bible who messed up big time, but people that God still chose to use for His purposes. Learn from some of the Bible’s heaviest hitters while being encouraged in your own walk with God.Daily Devotional: Epic Fails – Day 3

Key Scriptures:

  • Exodus 2:11-15

Devotional:

A murderer isn’t often thought of as the first choice for spiritual leadership. In fact, we label those who fall into this dangerous category as the unforgivable and cast them to the fringe of society. However, God doesn’t operate as we do and His ways are higher than ours! Moses is a perfect example of this.

For the first 40 years of his life, Moses grew up in Pharaoh’s house where he had everything he could ever want–power, money, prestige, notoriety–yet like any man growing up in an idolatrous world, there was a major gap between who he was born to be and where he currently was.

There is a time in Moses’ life when he is living in Pharaoh’s house yet knows he is truly Hebrew. He’s out walking and observes an Egyptian slave driver beating a Hebrew. Moses murders the Egyptian and buries him in the sand. The next day he realizes there were witnesses and soon the news travels to Pharaoh, who attempts to kill Moses. Moses flees to the land of Midian and this is where his 40-year journey with God begins.

Moses, who had been one of the most powerful people in the world and had all the comforts he could ever want now lived in obscurity shepherding flocks for his father-in-law, Jethro. He spent long days and nights in the wilderness on his own; evenings under the stars contemplating life and his purpose as he sat with the animals. Conversations with God about the dreams in his heart and reconciling how he could be used for God’s glory out in the wilderness.

Moses spent a long time in Pharaoh’s house and in the world. I believe that Moses spent 40 years in obscurity so that God could pull those things from the world out in order to make Moses into the leader he would use to bring Israel out of captivity. We often fantasize Moses’ great years of ministry and leading Israel towards the Promised Land, yet we overlook his 40 years in the wilderness. We want his influence but not his preparation.

To you who feels lost in the desert, longing to see one dream come true, hold on. If you’re still bursting to move forward, take a moment to evaluate where you’re at. Chances are there is something from your time spent in the world God is trying to get out through some pruning.

God took a murderer from the world’s stage, sent him into obscurity overseeing sheep, and transformed that man into a great leader who would deliver a nation. Now that’s a powerful testimony if I’ve ever heard one.

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Daily Devotional: Epic Fails

Daily Devotional Overview:

This 14-day reading plan explores the stories of men and women of the Bible who messed up big time, but people that God still chose to use for His purposes. Learn from some of the Bible’s heaviest hitters while being encouraged in your own walk with God.

Key Scriptures:

  • Genesis 25:29-34
  •  Genesis 27:1-46

Devotional:

If there was ever a shady character in the Bible that God redeemed in a big way it was Jacob. The guy’s name literally means “deceiver” if that tells you anything. Today, we will take a look at this man who started out as a cheater and ended as the father of a nation.

Abraham had a son named Isaac, who had two sons named Esau and Jacob. The two sons were twin brothers born seconds apart, which is where it all started. Jacob came out of his mother’s womb clasping at the heel of his older brother Esau. From that point on, Jacob was not content to be who God had birthed him to be. He wanted the birthright and blessing that belonged to the firstborn, his older brother.

In Genesis 25 Esau comes home from a long day of hard work, starving. Jacob has stew but when Esau asks for some, Jacob says that if Esau wants some stew he has to sell his birthright to him. Aside from the fact that Esau made a dumb move, Jacob shows pretty lousy character here. The guy is willing to let his brother starve for a birthright–something that belonged to Esau–which is incredibly manipulative.

It gets worse. In Genesis 27, as their father Isaac lies on his deathbed, Jacob deceives his father into thinking he’s Esau in order to steal the blessing. He dresses up and talks like Esau; he even flat out lies to his father when asked who he is.

Rightly so, Jacob fears for his life upon stealing Esau’s blessing and he flees. But this is the start of God’s transformation in Jacob’s life. Over the next few chapters and decades, God teaches Jacob who is in control. Interestingly enough, Jacob himself ends up being deceived by his future father-in-law, Laban.

Jacob ends up facing many trials over the years, but God moves mightily in his life. In fact, he ends up restoring the relationship between Jacob and Esau. Perhaps the most transformative moment in Jacob’s life took place in Genesis 32 over one restless night. Heading back to Esau with his growing family, Jacob wrestles with God, and by the end of the experience, God renames Jacob to “Israel,” which means, “God strives,” “God rules,” “God heals,” or “he strives against God.”

At this pivotal point, Israel is forever changed after his experience with God almighty.

God can metaphorically rename you once you’ve wrestled with Him and declared a new way of life His way. He can and wants to transform you and your life completely! It’s okay if you wrestle with Him to get there. Ultimately He reigns and prevails, changing your life like no other can (not even yourself).

If there is one thing that echos from Jacob’s story to today is the transformative power of God. Jacob was a deceiver who eventually became the father of God’s chosen people, Israel. God birthed His nation from a manipulator who was willing to deceive his own family.

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Daily Devotional: Epic Fails - Day 2

Daily Devotional Overview:

This 14-day reading plan explores the stories of men and women of the Bible who messed up big time, but people that God still chose to use for His purposes. Learn from some of the Bible’s heaviest hitters while being encouraged in your own walk with God.

Key Scriptures:

  •  Genesis 12:10-20
  •  Genesis 20:1-18

Devotional:

Today we start with the father of Israel, Abraham. A man credited with incredible faith and revered for his place in our heritage. Even so, he was still a man who made mistakes.

What’s interesting is that Abram didn’t start with the makings of being the great patriarch of Israel. In fact, Abram came from a godless home in a wicked nation. Not much to start with, which makes him a perfect candidate for many of us to relate to.

We first learn of him in Genesis 12 as God calls Abram to the faith. He is living in Haran with his family when God reveals Himself to Abram and commands him to go to a new land. Along the many years Abram follows God’s instructions, usually never knowing what the next step would be, his faith grows leaps and bounds through the various trials. However, there were a few bumps in the road.

Not long after Abram steps out to follow God a famine hits and he decides to take his family to Egypt where food was plentiful. The Bible is pretty clear when God spoke to Abram, but this is not one of those moments. We never see God tell Abram to go, so it’s gathered that Abram made that decision on his own. Out of fear and uncertainty Abram decides to move his family to a wicked nation. This is the first step down a dangerous path, showing us that when we decide to make decisions based off of what we think is best instead of what God says is best, we wander into risky territory.

Unfortunately, Abram’s poor decisions didn’t stop there. He was married to the very beautiful Sarai and he was afraid he would be killed by men in Egypt who wanted his wife. So he hatched a plan to go into Egypt as brother and sister instead of husband and wife. Abram was afraid of men so he took matters into his own hands and decided to live a lie. Can you imagine claiming your spouse as a sibling and allowing them to live in a harem?!

God judges the situation and creates an opportunity for Abram and Sarai to leave untouched, thankfully. But poor Abram, sometimes you have to wonder about him. Sadly he doesn’t learn from his mistake, because in Genesis 20 he does the exact same thing in another country.

In between these two circumstances God promises Abram that he will have descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky at a time Abram and Sarai have no children. Eventually, Sarai convinces Abram to take matters into their own hands and Abram sleeps with another woman to conceive a child.

Abram shows a pattern of taking matters into his own hands when things get tough. Perhaps this is why God rarely showed Abram the next step–to teach him faith. As a result, perhaps it’s why Abram is now known as Abraham, full of faith. The man who was willing to lay his son on the altar because he believed in God’s promise to provide heirs.

Most of the time we can’t see the next step and we don’t know what God is up to. Perhaps you’ve taken matters into your own hands before and it didn’t work out. Thankfully we get to have this beautiful relationship with a kind and gracious God who redeems our past for a flourishing future.

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Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional Overview:

In this daily devotional, you will reignite your motivation to dive into God’s Word as Pastor James MacDonald guides you through six things God Himself promises His Word to accomplish in those who hide it in their hearts. We’ll look at Psalm 19 and examine the reality that Scripture has the power to transform; bring wisdom, joy, & justice; enlighten; and stabilize its teachable readers.

Key Scriptures:

  • Psalms 73:2
  • Psalms 73:23-26

Devotional:

God Promises His Word to be Stabilizing

The fear of the Lord is without blemish and brings stability to every person in every generation who turns to Him.

Psalm 19:9a says, “The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever” (ESV). Fear is the attitude of the heart that seeks a right relationship to the fear source. When you have the fear of the Lord, you have something in your heart that makes you want to be in a right relationship with God. The fear of the Lord is like a wall around your behavior that hems you in and protects you from making bad choices. It’s the fear of the Lord that causes you to avoid certain behaviors that would displease Him and bring negative consequences.

The Bible is a book that instructs us on how to relate to God properly—that is, in the fear of the Lord.

Hebrews 10:31 tells us, “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (NASB). Yet into His hands we all will fall someday, and the Bible is the book that tells us how to get ready. If you fear God in this life, you will not have to fear Him in the life to come, because the fear of the Lord is clean. By that the Bible means that the fear of the Lord is “without blemish”; it is “undiminished, uncompromised, and without delusion or defilement.”

The Word of God is not only clean, but it is “enduring forever.” How badly we need a source of stability when circumstances shake our world. We never have to worry that God’s Word may be out of date or in need of revision; it is just as relevant as it was the day it was written. Circumstances may change, cultures and world leaders may come and go, but God’s Word is always current because it deals with two things that never change: the God who made us and the deepest needs of the human heart.

In every place, in every generation, in every century, in every millennium the Bible is a source of stability for all who turn to it.

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Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional Overview:

In this daily devotional, you will reignite your motivation to dive into God’s Word as Pastor James MacDonald guides you through six things God Himself promises His Word to accomplish in those who hide it in their hearts. We’ll look at Psalm 19 and examine the reality that Scripture has the power to transform; bring wisdom, joy, & justice; enlighten; and stabilize its teachable readers.

Key Scriptures:

  • Psalms 94:19

Devotional:

God Promises His Word to be Enlightening

The commands of God are so crystal-clear that they bring light into the darkness in every human heart.

God’s Word eliminates darkness. “The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Psalm 19:8b, ESV). Commandments are orders or divine decrees—the things God insists that we do and keep on doing. One version translates pure as “radiant.” This is the idea of the absolute absence of impurity.

The world we live in is very dark, and the book God wrote has the power to dispel all that darkness and confusion. If you are struggling this moment with a lot of questions about your life and the world we live in—if you struggle to reconcile what you see with the existence of a loving God—you really must get into the Book where He explains all of that. If you do, without a doubt you will discover that “the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.”

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Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional Overview:

In this daily devotional, you will reignite your motivation to dive into God’s Word as Pastor James MacDonald guides you through six things God Himself promises His Word to accomplish in those who hide it in their hearts. We’ll look at Psalm 19 and examine the reality that Scripture has the power to transform; bring wisdom, joy, & justice; enlighten; and stabilize its teachable readers.

Key Scriptures:

  • Psalms 94:19

Devotional:

God Promises His Word to be Joy-Giving

God’s divine principles set a right path through the maze of life and cause our hearts to rejoice.

“The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart” (Psalm 19:8a, NKJV). Notice the progression we’ve been outlining. First the Word of God converts you. Then it makes you wise, and then it causes your heart to rejoice.
Statutes are God’s rulings, prescriptions, pronouncements, and principles.

The world has principles, too—that seldom guide and never satisfy. But “the statutes of the Lord are right.” Isn’t that great to know? They’re not off-track, not even by a degree. They’re one hundred percent right. God’s principles and statutes are correct in all that they assert. They set a right path. Life is like a maze, and the statutes of God set a right path through that maze so we don’t wander aimlessly or get lost or sidetracked by things that don’t ultimately matter.

Never do we have so much joy in this world as when we are living in conformity to God’s Word. Never. Like an engine firing on all cylinders; a gazelle running at full speed; or a symphony with every instrument pounding out the melody and harmonies in perfect tune and rhythm . . . when you’re doing the things that God created you to do and told you to do in His Word, your life will begin to overflow with unprecedented joy.

This joy that comes to the human heart can’t be experienced any other way than by rightly understanding the Bible. Jeremiah 15:16 says, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart” (ESV).

Can I challenge you to turn off the television, silence the phone, and give the book God has written a chance to feed and fill your soul, like you never have before? God’s Word will bring you joy. Guaranteed.

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