Showing posts with label Daily Devotional. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Daily Devotional. Show all posts

Thursday, January 2, 2020

"I Insist" - Devotion on Genesis 19

Scripture: Genesis 19:2
“’My lords,’ he said, ‘please turn aside to your servant’s house.’”

Lot offered the two men (angels) room and board. The other men of the town just wanted to take advantage of them.

When the angels refused Lot’s hospitality, he insisted strongly enough to convince them to stay with him. When the men of the town didn’t get their way right away, they also insisted, so strongly that they threatened to break into Lot’s house and beat him.

Both parties were persistent. Are you? If you offer to help someone, and they refuse, do you let the matter drop or do you follow up with another offer?

We need to give people the freedom to make their own choices, as God does with us. But God also always extends grace to us again at the next available opportunity. How can you extend an offer to help someone after they’ve refused you before? How can you gently insist so that they know you know you’re sincere in your desire to help them and not simply being polite?

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Monday, December 23, 2019

Trusting God to Be Who He Is - Devotion on Genesis 18

Scripture: Genesis 18:25
“Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

Abraham pleads boldly and repeatedly, but also respectfully, for the righteous people in Sodom and Gomorrah. He knows his relatives, Lot and family, are living there, but he doesn’t mention them by name. He may have been thinking of them, but he makes his prayer more general.

He also couches his prayer not on the merit of the righteous people in danger but on God’s character. He’s basically saying, “It wouldn’t be right to kill the righteous along with the wicked, so You’re not going to do that, are You?” Abraham then has to trust God’s reassurances that He will do the right thing.

Do you trust God to do the right thing? Do you trust Him to fulfill His nature and act according to His character even when you don’t understand what He’s doing?

The key to our faith is trusting God to be God. That means trusting Him to be who He is. There is no Right above Him. He is the standard of right and wrong, just and unjust, good and evil, wise and foolish. He is Good. He is Just. He is Wise. And He doesn’t change. He never acts contrary to His goodness. He never takes an action contrary to His wisdom.

Whatever God does is the goodest and wisest thing possible. If you can believe that, you won’t have a problem trusting Him in difficult situations. Abraham trusted Him and was able to return home, not worrying about whether God would do the right thing in Sodom and Gomorrah.

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"Shall I Hide...?" - Devotion on Genesis 18

Scripture: Genesis 18:17-19
“Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”

You know that God doesn’t tell us everything, right? He doesn’t have to. And there are plenty of things that are better for God to keep hidden, such as when you’re going to die or when Christ will return. It’s better for us to live in constant preparation for those days.

In this passage, God questions whether or not to tell Abraham about what He going to do to Sodom and Gomorrah. He decides to tell Abraham because He wanted to reveal His nature to Abraham and teach him. He said that Abraham was going “direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just,” so God told Him what He was going to do to demonstrate His righteousness and justice.

God has also told us what He’s going to do when He shows His righteousness and justice by punishing sinners at the time of judgment. It teaches us about Him and serves as a warning for us to do “what is right and just.” For all our talk of God’s grace, let us not forget that His righteousness and justice demand that sin be punished. We need to take sin seriously because God certainly does.

He is gracious and merciful, but He tells Abraham what He’s going to do to Sodom and Gomorrah to show that He won’t tolerate sin.

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Can't Lie to God… But Why Would You Want To? - Devotion on Genesis 18

Scripture: Genesis 18:15
“Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, ‘I did not laugh.’ But he said, ‘Yes, you did laugh.’”

Get the picture of this in your mind. God tells Abraham that Sarah is going to have a son. He’s not even talking to Sarah. Sarah is inside the tent while Abraham is entertaining his three guests. Yet she hears what God says and laughs to herself about it (she’s laughing quietly enough that she thinks she can deny it). And even though she’s laughing to herself, God still hears her.

And when God questions her about it (since He knows she’s listening), she lies about it and tries to deny her doubts. Was she afraid of admitting she had laughed at God? Was she trying not to be rude about doubting what He had said?

But notice that God doesn’t condemn her laughter or her doubts. He simply repeats the promise.

God hears everything we say, sees everything we do, and knows everything we think. But rather than that being a scary thing, it's actually comforting. The God who works miracles is always aware of what we're going through. He knows our fears and our doubts, and He's right there with us in them.

God doesn't let us get away with anything, but He never leaves our side either. When you have a God like that, a God who is on your side all the time, why would you want to try to hide anything from Him? Instead, surrender to His powerful care and listen to Him reassure you, just as He did with Sarah.

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God DOES the Impossible - Devotion on Genesis 18

Scripture: Genesis 18:10
Then one of them said, ‘I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.’”

Sarah was past the age of childbearing and had never given birth before, even though she had tried for years. But notice what God says: It will surely happen.

But a woman as old as Sarah doesn’t normally have children! God is not limited by what normally is.

But these two have tried for years, and it hasn’t worked! God has never tried to make it happen; only they have.

But Sarah’s body is obviously incapable of carrying children. Being God, He is above and in control of everything. Sometimes, He acts and does what doesn't seem possible. Sometimes, He acts on nature to make it do something that it normally wouldn’t. He is God and is not bound by the rules or conditions currently in place. Nothing can stand in the way of His will.

What situation are you facing in your life that seems impossible to overcome? What do you hope for that doesn’t seem like it could ever happen?

Listen for God’s word on the matter. If He says it will happen, it surely will.

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Abraham the Hospitable Host - Devotion on Genesis 18

Scripture: Genesis 18:5
“Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”

The NIV says Abraham “hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground” when he saw these three men passing by. Then, he “hurried into the tent” to ask Sarah to break some bread. Then, he “ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf” for a servant to cook.

Abraham had no idea who the three visitors were, but he went out of his way to serve them. You can just picture him racing around his camp greeting them and making preparations. And he calls himself their servant.

It makes me wonder, what is our attitude toward people? Do we see them as annoyances (Oh, great! Three guys showed up at my door, so now I have to try to be polite) or as opportunities to practice humility and servanthood like Abraham did?

The question for me is why Abraham was so hospitable to these men. We know from reading the story that the “men” were God and two angels, but Abraham apparently did not realize this at first. Also, they weren’t traveling with a caravan, so I don’t imagine he thought he would get much of a reward for his trouble.

Maybe he treated them so well because he thought they were exactly what he was: men made in the image of God.

That’s the only reason we need to go out of our way to serve another human being. When we serve them, we’re honoring the image of God within them. We’re honoring their Creator by honoring them.

How can you be more of a servant to someone today?

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Wednesday, December 4, 2019

The Realistic Christian Life - Devotion on Genesis 17

Scripture: Genesis 17:23
On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him.

You know what I’m going to say about this verse, don’t you?

“On that very day…” There’s no hesitation, no consideration, no weighing his options. It’s instant obedience.

Even though he has doubts.

Remember how Abraham laughed when God said He would give him a son through his 90-year-old wife?

This obedience is the picture of living out your faith, continuing to trust even when you have questions, even when you’re not sure. You have doubts – maybe you’re not sure about some things – but you keep going with God.

AND… you bring others along with you. Abraham brought everyone he had influence over into the covenant. His family, the people who worked for him.

This is what the realistic faithful life looks like: dealing with questions in a trustful and obedient attitude and inviting others into the covenant with you.

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Two-Sided Relationship - Devotion on Genesis 17

Scripture: Genesis 17:20-21
“And as for Ishmael, I have heard you…But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.”

After Abraham tries to negotiate God down from giving him another son to simply blessing the son he already has, God does both! That’s how gracious God is. He listens to Abraham’s request but still does what He originally planned.

Do you believe that God listens to and answers your prayers too? Even when we can’t see how God is working all things for our good, and we pray something less than what God wants to do, He still takes our requests into serious consideration. He’s a loving and generous Father who shows that He wants to be in a genuine relationship with us by hearing our prayers and acting on them.

What sort of relationship would we have with God if we prayed to Him but He ignored us and simply went on with His plan?

That’s not the sort of self-absorbed Person He is. He doesn’t want a one-sided relationship. He respects you enough to listen to you and take your requests seriously.

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Negotiating for Less? - Devotion on Genesis 17

Scripture: Genesis 17:17-18
Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!”

Why does Abraham laugh? It is it because he’s overwhelmed with joy or because he’s overwhelmed with the thought of having to raise a child as a 100-year-old man? Does he think what God is promising is too good to be true? Does he think God is joking?

He doesn’t seem to believe God; he tries to negotiate down from the great miracle God wants to do for him in giving him a son by his wife to blessing the son he already has. It would be like if God offered us eternal life, and we say, “How about instead of that, You just me a good really 80 years or so in this life?”

It doesn’t make sense to try to talk God out of something He wants to do for us, does it? Why would we want to settle for less than He wants to give?

God wants to do great things in and through and for you. Don’t get overwhelmed. Don’t doubt. Don’t try to negotiate down. Take God at His word and see what miracles He’ll do for you.

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Cut Off - Devotion on Genesis 17

Scripture: Genesis 17:14
“Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

I see three things in this verse: an action, a consequence, and a reason. The person refused to be circumcised, so he was cut off from the people for breaking God’s covenant.

First, we need to understand that after God made this part of His covenant with Abram, Jewish males would have been circumcised as children. They wouldn’t have had a choice in the matter. So, we’re not talking about native-born Jews. We’re talking about grown men who wanted  to convert to Judaism.

If a male wasn’t circumcised but wanted to join the community of God’s people, it would be easy enough for him to undergo the rite of the covenant. Abraham did it as an old man, Ishmael as an adolescent. Refusing to be circumcised shows that the man is not willing to obey God by taking the mark in his flesh, and that’s where we can draw the parallel to our lives.

If we want to be a part of God’s people, we have to show our obedience to God on the outside. It has to result in a changed life, exhibited by changed behavior. We can’t say we’re a Christian and keep living the same way, just like a convert to Judaism couldn’t join the people and keep everything the same.

If we don’t make that outward change in our behavior, what happens? The consequence for the false Jew was to be cut off from his people. He couldn’t be a part of the community without really being a part of the community. It’s the same way with us. We can’t be a part of a church or a family of believers if we don’t exhibit true faith through a changed life.

The Church Universal and the church local has every right to recognize a false brother or sister among them and cast them out. Maybe doing so will move that person to take God’s covenant seriously.

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Friday, November 8, 2019

Who's the Leader? - Devotion on Genesis 17

Scripture: Genesis 17:10-11
“This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you.”

Circumcision? Really, God?

Why did God choose circumcision? Why choose to make the sign of His covenant something that only males could participate in? And why make something that only the individual would see most of the time? Shouldn’t the sign have been something that was a witness to other people?

Male only: God was confirming that men are the leaders of their households. If the men are following God’s covenant, they should have enough influence over the women in their lives that they will also follow God’s covenant.

Circumcision: By choosing to mark a male’s manhood, He was showing him that just as he is the leader of his household, so God is his leader. God has so much authority over him that he can even demand this mark in the sign of his manhood.

Private: This sign was something that only the individual man would see most of the time because his relationship with God is to be a personal matter. He must follow the covenant himself, not simply as a member of a community. If he’s doing so, his life will be an example to others.

Whereas God doesn’t require circumcision under our new covenant in Christ, all of these concepts are still valid in the Christian life. Think today about how you can lead your family in this new covenant. How can you acknowledge God as being your leader? Are you following Him personally, or going along with the rest of your church community?

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Thursday, November 7, 2019

An Offer You Can't Refuse - Devotion on Genesis 17

Scripture: Genesis 17:7
“I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.”

Isn’t it strange that God offers to be Abraham’s God? Isn’t He everyone’s God? Yet part of the covenant He makes with Abraham is to be his God and the God of his descendants after him.

I think this points to the personal nature of the relationship God wants to have with us. Yes, He is everyone’s God, but not everyone acknowledges Him. And if they do, not everyone invests in having a relationship with Him.

But when we enter into a covenant with Him, as Abraham is here, we enter into a relationship. He becomes our God, not simply the general God of the universe. And the fact that God offers to be our God, to have a personal relationship with us, shows how much He loves each one of us.

What can you do today to invest in your covenant relationship with Him? How can you help make sure that your descendants or the generation after you maintains that covenant?

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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Who He Is - Devotion on Genesis 17

Scripture: Genesis 17:1-2
“I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”

Why should we walk faithfully and be blameless before God? Because He’s God Almighty. That’s it. That’s all the claim to our allegiance and our obedience He needs. We obey Him because He’s our God, our Creator. It is His right to command us.

But what I love about Him is the fact that He also rewards obedience. He doesn’t have to. He could simply demand our loyalty and unswerving following of His rules and offer us nothing in return.

But He doesn’t do that. He never does that. He is a giving God. When we obey Him, He rewards us with more than our faithfulness deserves. In Genesis 17, He gives Abraham Himself when He offers to enter into a covenant with Him. He also enters into a covenant with us, and rather than giving us the promise of many descendants, He promises us eternal life.

Is your obedience worth eternal life? Is it worth being in a covenant, a relationship with God Almighty? I know my obedience isn’t worth all that, but God gives it to me anyway.

Take some time today to thank Him for His generosity toward you. And remember, He deserves your loyalty simply because of who He is, but He also rewards you for it, because that’s who He is.

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Thursday, October 10, 2019

The God Who Sees Me - Devotion on Genesis 16

Scripture: Genesis 16:13
She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”

Hagar found herself in a desperate situation. She was taken advantage of, then mistreated, and finally forced to flee. She had taken more than she could handle.

And then God finds her. God comes to her and speaks to her and blesses her. Afterward, she acknowledges that God is the one who sees her.

Do you know that God sees you too? No matter what you're going through, God sees it, and He sees you. Even now, He is coming to you, speaking to you, telling you that He cares for you and wants to bless you. Can you hear it? Listen to His voice speaking into your heart. Listen for His Spirit speaking to your spirit. Let His words take shape in your mind.

He sees you. He knows you. He loves you. He cares about you, and He will bless you.

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The Rewards of Submission - Devotion on Genesis 16

Scripture: Genesis 16:9
Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.”

This is not what Hagar wanted to hear. She probably wanted the angel to say, “Oh, you poor thing, you’ve been so mistreated. Here, let me make you the mistress of your own household.”

But that’s not what God did for her then. In fact, in the previous verse, he called her the “slave of Sarai” reminding her of her situation in life and seemingly not interested in changing it.

And much to our frustration, God often isn’t in as much of a hurry to change our situations as we want Him to be. While He wants to alleviate suffering and bring us joy, He’s more interested in making us holy than in making us happy. Like Hagar, He wants us to learn how to grow and mature in our present situations instead of trying to escape them. He wants to teach us endurance, patience, humility, and contentment instead of how to give up and move on.

While there are some circumstances that God wants you to leave immediately, think about the current situation you’re in that you wish was different. What is God wanting to teach you through it before it’s over? Don’t miss the lesson for the sake of a quick exit.

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Where Are You Now? - Devotion on Genesis 16

Scripture: Genesis 16:7-8
The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”

Notice what the angel asks Hagar. “Where have you come from, and where are you going?” When we feel lost in life, it’s important to ask ourselves these two questions.

Let’s start with the first part of the question, your past. What has God brought you out of? How has He led you to grow and mature in Him? What has your walk with Him been like? Has He ever failed you? What prayers has He answered for up to now?

And now for the second part, your future. What has God called you to? Where is He leading you? Are you keeping in mind His promise of providing you an eternal home with Him?

When we remember where we’ve been with the Lord and where we’re going with Him, it’s easier to put our present in perspective. Remember that your Father has always been faithful to You, and He always will be, even in this current circumstance.

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It's in Your Hands - Devotion on Genesis 16

Scripture: Genesis 16:6
“Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.”

“Do with her whatever you think best”?! What about what God thinks best? Abram is so hands-off (except when he’s very hands-on) in this story. But we can be like him sometimes, can’t we?

Are there times when you see something wrong happening, maybe someone being mistreated, and decide not to get involved? Do you ever feel a stirring in your heart to take action against some injustice but then quash that feeling by telling yourself that you don’t have time or that it would be too much trouble to do something about it? Maybe you’re like Abram in this story and don’t want to turn someone’s anger toward you, so instead, you say nothing about their sin.

While we all fail to take opportunities to stand up for what’s right every day, we also recognize that Abram’s laissez-faire approach in this episode is not to be respected. So, what can we do to make sure we’re not following in his footsteps in this regard?

Ask God to make you passionate about what He is. Our Father is a God of love and justice. He is righteous and holy. Nothing escapes His notice, and He never looks the other way. Ask Him to remind you on a daily basis that nothing is as important in this life as joining Him in His work and being an ambassador for Him. We are His spokespeople.

We need to speak up.

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Despise - Devotion on Genesis 16

Scripture: Genesis 16:5
“I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me.”

What might cause you to despise someone? What makes you feel that you’re better than someone else?

Hagar looked down on Sarai because she had done something that Sarai couldn’t. She had succeeded where Sarai failed. The slave was now the master, the more desirable wife, and both of them knew it. You can imagine the attitude Hagar gave Sarai when the older woman asked her to do something. “Why should I serve you? I’m the one giving Abram a child, after all!”

Even though we would consider Hagar the victim of the story by today’s standards, this story reminds us that we’re all better than some people at certain things. We all have a measure of skill, opportunity, and luck that some others around us don’t share. When we are blessed, we need to maintain an attitude of humility toward others and recognize that we could lose our good fortune very easily.

How is God calling you to behave more humbly toward others?

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Abram Agrees - Devotion on Genesis 16

Scripture: Genesis 16:1-2
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said.

I don’t know how good-looking Hagar was, but Abram seems very willing to go along with Sarai’s plan. It makes me wonder how easy it is for us to be convinced to take part in a less than godly activity. If someone proposes something that sounds like a good idea and makes sense from a human point of view, is it easy for you to go along with it? Or are you more cautious and take a step back to ask the Lord what He thinks? It seems that neither Sarai nor Abram did much praying over this decision.

And though Sarai may have been suggesting this plan of action out of pure motives – to help her family –it still reminds me a lot of the scene between the serpent and Eve, and between Eve and Adam. Were Adam and Eve secretly wanting to give in to the temptation, and that’s why they were so easy to convince? Did Abram find the idea of taking another woman so pleasurable that He didn’t want to ask God’s opinion? Did he consider this possibility of finally having children so expedient that he didn’t want to wait to see if God had another idea?

Pray that the Lord gives you a pure and steadfast heart so that you won’t be swayed by temptations disguised as smart-sounding opportunities. Ask Him to give you a mind filled with wisdom to see through the mistaken “logic” of human ideas. Ask the Holy Spirit to be your inspiration and guide, leading you toward His plan from the beginning so that you can recognize the false paths others set in front of you.

Our good Father will show you the way if you wait on Him.

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Whose Fault? - Devotion on Genesis 16

Scripture: Genesis 16:1-2
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”

Whose fault is it when bad things happen to you? Who can you point the finger at and pin the blame on?

Sarai was unfortunate enough not to have ever had children even though she desperately wanted them. In this conversation with her husband, she blames God for her misfortune, saying that God has kept her from having children.

The Bible doesn't say that God had anything to do with Sarai's inability to conceive. It may have simply been a bad thing that happened to her. But instead of accepting her situation for the natural condition it was, she pointed the finger at God.

When she decided – note that God didn't give her this idea – to have Abram sleep with Hagar, she was jealous of the resulting pregnancy and blamed Abram, saying he was responsible for the situation.

When she mistreated Hagar, she was responsible for Hagar running away.

In all of these instances, Sarai tried to blame someone for her problems instead of simply accepting them and dealing with them maturely.

We all have problems. Bad things happen to us. But at no time is God the source of those bad things happening. God loves us and only wishes to bless us. In fact, if Sarai would have been patient, she would have found God blessing her with her own child soon enough.

God does not cause bad things to happen to us. But if we will be patient and conduct ourselves maturely instead of blaming Him and others for our misfortunes, He will eventually help us.

What situations can you recall God helping you with? Can you have faith enough to know that He's going to help again?

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