ThinkOnIt Daily Devotions

Faith like Noah

Read Genesis 6 and 7

What if God told you to build an ark? At first it may seem like it would require a lot of faith to carry out that command. I mean really, build an ark in your front yard. Can you imagine the complaint’s from your neighbors and your homeowner’s association?

This is exactly what God did with Noah. He told Noah He was going to destroy man and all the living things because He saw they had corrupted their way on the earth. God told Noah build an ark, for in you I have seen righteousness on the earth.

As I pondered this story more, I realized Noah and God had a close relationship. They spoke often together. This wasn’t the first time God had spoken to Noah. As a result, I don’t think it took Noah by surprise. In Genesis 6:22 we see Noah did according to all God commanded him. While it may require a huge amount of faith to believe God is real and is a rewarder of men, it really doesn’t take more faith to follow through on something God asks you to do, once you know Him.

Think about it. When you first believed, God had not revealed Himself fully, so it took more faith to wait for God’s revelation. As you grew in your personal relationship with God, He revealed more of Himself by proving He was God in a way that helped you believe. Once He makes Himself well known to you, it’s far easier to obey His commands.

One way to document the way’s God proves Himself to you is to journal your prayers. I started this process as soon as I believed. It surely helped me see God moving in my life. From the smallest prayer, like “help me get through this today†to bigger ones like “save my marriageâ€. The more you journal your prayers and God’s answers to your prayers, the more your faith will grow because it becomes so easy to see His activity in your life. Talk about excitement! It’s exciting seeing how God works things out for the good of those you love God and are called according to His purposes.

So do you have faith like Noah?
 
Sarai's Submission

Read Genesis 12

God came to Abram and told him to leave the land of his father. God said He would bless Abram and make him a great nation, giving him a great name and make him a great blessing. Wow!

Three greats for one person! Great nation – he would surely have lots of children if he were to be a great nation! That’s fabulous considering he and his wife hadn’t been able to have kids up until this point. Great name – God was going to give Abram a great place in history and give him a legacy. Great blessing – God was going to use Abram to bless others. How exciting this must have been to wonder how God was going to do these things in his life!

The Bible doesn’t tell us whether or not Abram had a relationship with God prior to this encounter. If he didn’t, wouldn’t this be all the more fantastic? Here Abram is going about his own business when the Lord of the universe appears to him and proclaims these wonderful promises to him! Awesome!

Okay, now you have some background. God spoke to Abram. Abram followed the directions to leave his country. As they got close to Egypt, Abram began thinking of his own wellbeing. He knew his wife was drop-dead gorgeous. Of course, the Egyptians would kill him to take his beautiful wife, he thought. To save his own hide, he convinces his wife to lie, saying she’s his sister.

Can you imagine? Sarai goes along with it. Okay, Abram I’ll lie for you, even though I might have to sleep with the Pharoh. Yikes!! I don’t know if I could do that. So they entered Egypt and as Abram feared, the Pharoh saw Sarai and took her into his harem because she said she was Abram’s sister. I personally would feel like I was just sold into slavery! How could Sarai agree to be given to another man? How could she submit to Abram, when it was lying?

The Bible again doesn’t tell us for sure whether Sarai heard God’s promises to Abram to first hand or whether Abram told her everything God told him. Perhaps she was present when God spoke to Abram. If she knew God was going to make Abram a great name, then maybe she thought she should go along with whatever Abram told her to do because God would some how cover or remove the lies. After all, how can you have a great name if you’re a liar?

Perhaps Sarai trusted Abram with her life. If she did trust him, maybe she thought Abram would get her out before she was violated by the Pharoh. Then again maybe it was God she trusted. I’d like to believer she trusted God, but later we find she laughed at God’s promise to give her a son, so there’s probably more evidence that she didn’t believe or trust God’s promises.

In any case, even though I just don’t understand how she submitted to Abram’s decision to call her his sister, God was able to bring good out of Abram’s bad decision. Isn’t just like our God? He makes us for our lack of faith. He comes through every time. He does exactly what He says He’s going to do. What an awesome God we have!!
 
God's Promises to Abram

Read Genesis 15 NKJV

Have you ever noticed how hope appears only after there’s been a period of doubt, trials, despair and self-pity? I know for me, I had to get to the very end of my self-sufficiency in much misery and pain before hope shined his light on me.

In reading Genesis 15, I noticed the same pattern: doubt, worry, despair all came before hope. As I’ve come to learn of God’s generosity, He doesn’t just provide hope. He also follows up the hope with a personal promise, something that speaks to the person specifically and intimately.

Let’s take a look at two examples from Genesis 15 in the NKJV translation. The first example lies within verses 3 through 6:
3 Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!â€
4 And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.â€
5 Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.†And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.â€
6 And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.


Notice in verse 3 Abram is whining about having no children to be his heir. He’s actually blaming God for not giving him children. That to me speaks of self-pity, doubt and despair. At this point Abram was unable to see what God was capable of doing.

Look at verse 4 and 5. God spoke to Abram saying “Don’t worry. You will have an heir from your own body. In fact, you will have so many descendants you won’t be able to call them, just as you can’t count the stars.†If that is not a picture of hope, I don’t know what is.

Finally, we see the personal and intimate promise in verse 6. Abram believed God and God accounted it to him for righteousness. Abram was considered righteous in God’s eyes because he finally believed God.

The second example of this repeating pattern is found in Genesis 15 verses 13 through 15 in the NKJV translation:
13Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.
14 And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.
15 Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age.


In verse 13 we see God telling Abram what will become of his descendants and the picture isn’t so bright. God says they will be strangers in a land that’s not theirs, they will serve those who own the land and they will be afflicted four hundreds years. That sounds a lot like despair to me.

Moving on to verse 14 we find the hope. God says “Don’t worry, I will judge the nation whom they serve and afterwards they will leave with great substance.†This is a reminder that when things don’t look like their going well, God is still in control and He will take vengeance on those who persecute His people.

Again we see the personal promise towards Abram in verse 15. God tells him, he will live a long life and die peacefully. Isn’t that nice of God to tell Abram how long he’ll live? I would think that would provide such a boost in productivity and remove a lot of fear. Just think about it. Abram could do anything God wanted him to without worrying about dying in the process, for God gave His word he would live a long life.

What about in your life, do you see the same pattern? I know I did when my marriage was in crisis mode and I thought it would never be good again (despair). God sent an angel to direct me to (hope). Through the pain I found Jesus Christ and believed on Him as my Lord and Savior, who forgave me (personal promise). If you haven’t noticed this pattern yet, keep your eyes open. It’s just a matter of time before you do. When you do recognize the pattern, know that God is teaching you something new either about yourself or about His character or both.
 
Submit Where You Are

Read Genesis 16

In Genesis 15 God told Abram his seed would be as innumerous as the stars. The Bible doesn’t say whether Abram shared this with his wife, Sarai or not. However, as Genesis 16 begins we see Sarai is tired of being without child. Sarai, being desperate, thinks up a way to get what she wants.

Isn’t that what most of us do? When we want something we think of how to get it. This isn’t usually a bad thing. After all it takes planning and saving to purchase a house for example. But it can be a very bad thing if you’re scheming and using people with no regard to their feelings, just to get what you want.

Sarai had a maid servant named Hagar. Sarai decided to give Hagar to her husband, Abram, to be his second wife. She mistakenly thought that she could have children through her maid. Sarai’s thoughts were so focused on what she wanted, she didn’t even consider Hagar’s desires. Do you think Hagar really wanted to sleep with Abram? I doubt it. Can you imagine, you work for someone as a maid and out of the blue they decide part of your job description is to sleep with your boss’s husband? I’m glad we don’t live in those times anymore!

All we know from Genesis 16:4 is Abram slept with Hagar and she conceived. When Hagar found out she was pregnant, she started hating Sarai, her master. I’m sure there was so much tension and strife in that house you probably could have cut it with a knife!

God created us to be monogamous – one man, one woman joined together as one flesh. When we choose to do what is outside of God’s plans for us, chaos reigns. Sarai blinded by her desires for children, introduces another woman into her sacred marriage. Consequences are sure to follow, but she risks it anyway. Perhaps she wasn’t thinking about the consequences at all.

Genesis 16:5-6 tell us Sarai was jealous, Abram tells Sarai to deal with it and Sarai begins treating Hagar harshly. Here they are Sarai is now filled with jealousy, (I’m sure she didn’t see that coming), Hagar is pregnant and despising Sarai and then Abram won’t do anything to help straighten out this mess. The situation is way too much for Hagar to handle and she runs away into the wilderness.

Hagar is distraught, probably having a pity party because her life is not turning out the way she planned. She’s sitting somewhere in the wilderness and an angel of the Lord visits her. He addressed her by name to show He knows her and by position to remind her of her responsibilities. The angel says “Hagar, Sarai’s maid where did you come from? Where will you go?†Notice how the angel of the Lord is reminding Hagar who she is and all she has, trying to get her to realize what she has to be thankful for. Hagar doesn’t even answer His questions but instead says “I’m fleeing from my masterâ€.

Do you ever find yourself in this position? Things weren’t going according to your plans and you decided to run away? Somehow we decide that disobedience will help us. Hagar doesn’t get off that easy though. The angel of the Lord says “Return and submit to your masterâ€.

God always expects us to carry out our responsibilities. Remember, Hagar was Sarai’s maid. God wanted her to complete her duty, regardless of how Sarai treated her. Everything we do should be done as though we were working for the Lord and not just mere man.

To give Hagar some hope the angel of the Lord tells her that He will multiply her children exceedingly so much that she wouldn’t be able to number them. In an age where having a houseful of children was considered great riches this message must have given her much to be encouraged about.

The angel then gives Hagar instructions to name the child Ishmael because it means “the Lord heard your afflictionsâ€. I just love how names had meaning. Look how the Lord wanted Hagar to remember He hears her prayers by telling her to name her child Ishmael. Every time Hagar thought of her son or called out his name, it would be a reminder “the Lord heard my afflictionâ€. How beautiful.

Let’s review what we’ve learned from Genesis 16.
• Using people to get what you want is always a bad idea.
• When our focus is not on God, we always make bad decisions.
• We are meant to have only one spouse for life. More than one will cause much pain.
• It’s a good idea to think though the consequences of an action before you take that action.
• We are expected to be responsible where ever God places us. Running away is not the solution. Instead, everything we do should be done as though we’re working for the Lord Himself, rather than just a man or woman.
• Even when we find ourselves in a bad situation, the Lord hears our prayers. Turn to God and He’ll show you what’s in store for you and care for your needs.
 
New Life for the New Year

Ezekiel 37:1-14 (New King James Version)
The Dry Bones Live
1 The hand of the LORD came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. 2 Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. 3 And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?â€
So I answered, “O Lord GOD, You know.â€
4 Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5 Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. 6 I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.â€â€™â€
7 So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.
9 Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.â€â€™â€ 10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.
11 Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. 14 I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it,†says the LORD.’â€


This section of scripture is a picture of God’s process in us.
1. He causes breath to enter, so we shall live – He gives us life.
2. He puts sinews on us – He gives His Spirit to us.
3. He brings flesh upon us – He gives us a body.
4. He covers us with skin – He gives us His righteousness to cover us.

Before we look at this process in detail, we must remember two things:

First, we were dead before we gave our lives to Christ.
Colossians 2:13 NKJV 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,

Ephesians 2:12 NKJV 12 were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

Second, we need to be dead to sin and alive to God…
Romans 6:11 NKJV 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:9-11 NKJV 9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Now for the details of God’s process
1. Realize Christ died for our sins to give us life. (Life comes for God.)
John 10:28 NKJV 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.

John 6:33 NKJV 33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.â€

John 6:51 NKJV 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.â€

John 6:63 NKJV 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

2. Christ was raised from the dead. He came to life again that we might live through Him as one body.
Romans 12:5 NKJV 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.

1 Corinthians 12:12-13 NKJV 12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

Ephesians 2:16 NKJV 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.

Ephesians 4:4-6 NKJV 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Colossians 3:15 NKJV 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

3. Christ gave His righteousness to cover us.
Isaiah 59:17 NKJV 17 For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, And was clad with zeal as a cloak.

Ephesians 4:24 NKJV 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Isaiah 61:10 NKJV 10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Psalm 132:9 NKJV 9 Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness, And let Your saints shout for joy.

Galatians 3:26-28 NKJV 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

4. God gave us one Spirit and made us one Body.
Numbers 11:17 NKJV 17 Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone.

Isaiah 42:1 NKJV 1 “Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.

Ezekiel 11:19 NKJV 19 Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh,

Ezekiel 26:26-27 NKJV 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 NKJV 21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, 22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

1 Corinthians 12:12-14 NKJV12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.

In conclusion, we see God’s process in us is all His doing. It is not by our efforts but by His mighty Spirit at work in our hearts giving us what we need:
• His life in us.
• His Spirit in us.
• Being placed into His body.
• Being covered by His righteousness.

Lord Jesus we thank you for your sacrifice to wash away our sins, making us righteous before God. Thank you for your Spirit within us to lead us in all truth. Thank you for making us part of your body where we belong. Thank you for a new life in Christ. In Jesus’ name Amen.
 
Never Too Late for God

Genesis 17:1 NKJV When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.â€

Did you notice how old Abram was when the Lord appeared to him? Abram was 99 years old! It’s never too late for God to appear in your life and it’s never too late to turn to God either. As I read this verse it was as if God was speaking this to me and a pattern appeared that seemed very familiar to me - the pattern of salvation. Allow me to explain.

God first says “I am Almighty Godâ€. This is the first step in being saved. I must recognize I’m not God – only HE is. He is Almighty, the source of all power. He is more powerful than I can even imagine. Recognizing God is Almighty puts everything in the proper perspective. Realizing He’s God and I’m not, helps me recognize my own sinfulness. When you compare yourself to God, it becomes quite clear how much we miss the mark. Romans 3:23 NKJV “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of Godâ€. Romans 6:23 NKJV “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.â€

The second step is “walk before Meâ€. I must submit myself to the authority of the Lord God Almighty. Ever notice how a very young child will behave nicely or do really cute things before their parents or other adults? It’s because they know someone is watching. God is saying “I’m always watching, therefore, walk before me as though you know I’m watchingâ€. If I know God Almighty is watching, I’m more likely to choose things that glorify Him rather than satisfy my selfish desires. Galatians 5:16 NKJV “…Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.†Before we can walk by the Spirit, we must be born again in Christ Jesus. Once we are born again, we become new creatures in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.â€

The last step is “be blamelessâ€. This is the final step in God’s process and not one you can achieve on your own without completing the first two steps. After you’ve accepted God is Almighty, your perspective is changed, and you accept what Jesus Christ did for you, the result is you are blameless before God. When you give your life to Christ, His righteousness is laid upon you, so you are washed clean and purified from all unrighteousness. 1 Corinthians 6:11 NKJV “But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.â€

To recap what we’ve learned from today’s verse. Here’s a quick summary:
1) Recognize God is Almighty and I am sinful.
2) Walk before Him, ask for forgiveness from Christ.
3) Become a new creation in Christ and be blameless.

Are you ready to give your life to Christ? Pray a simple prayer like:
“Jesus forgive me for living my life without you. I know I am a sinner but you are Almighty God. Asmuch as I know how I give myself to you. Please come into my life and make me new. In Jesus’ name Amen.â€
 
one God and one Mediator between God and men

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, 7 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. 1 Timothy 2:5-7 NKJV

I didn’t grow up with a religious background. We had a crucifix hanging in the house and a few bibles, but no one ever read them. So when I gave my life to Christ, it was fairly easy for me to make Him central in my life. The only thing competing for that spot was myself. I did not worship any other person or thing.

As I began to meet a few Catholics, I found it strange to hear of their traditions, particularly their worship and prayer to Mary, the mother of Jesus. It seemed to me they were pleading their cause to Mary, hoping she’d put in a good word for them.

Today’s verse makes it abundantly clear, there is only one Mediator between God and men and that’s Jesus Christ. Only Jesus gave His life that we might live. Mary may have been the Lord’s chosen mother for Jesus, but she didn’t die for us. Jesus did. He is the ONE to worship. Him and Him alone do we worship. Exodus 20:3 NKJV “You shall have no other gods before Me.â€

How about you? Who do you worship?

Lord, thank you for sending Jesus Christ to die for our sins. Help us keep our focus on You, Lord Jesus. If anything is creeping into the place reserved for You, forgive us and lead us in Your way. In Your precious name, Jesus Amen.
 
Quiet Time - Renewal Time
Genesis 18:1 KJV
And the Lord appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre; and he sat in the tent door in the heat of day;


Abraham was sitting quietly in his tent door. Perhaps he was meditating or praying. We don’t know for sure. However, we do know to sit means to be fairly still and not moving around.

Notice how the Lord appeared to Abraham when he was still? How often are we still? Do you allow stillness into your daily routine? It is within this stillness you can hear the Lord speaking to you.

You may find it hard to quiet yourself at first, especially when you’re not used to it. You might find your mind racing through a mental TO DO List of all the things you need to get done. If those thoughts plaque you when you try to have a quiet time, here’s a helpful hint: Keep a notepad and pen close by. Write down every distracting thought so you can deal with it later.

So with the distracting thoughts written down for later, what exactly do you do in a quiet time? No two quiet times are the same. Each one is different based on how God shaped the person. By sharing what I do in my quiet time, perhaps it will give you some ideas for yours. Please kind in mind this is not a formula to follow, it’s just an idea of what you can do in your own quiet time.

1) I like to journal my prayers. As I pour out my prayers with thanksgiving, praise and worship of God Almighty, I feel my heart opening and turning towards God. After some time of praise to God, my prayers switch to praying for others (those close to me, those who point me to Christ, those in authority, those who are in need etc) and finally I pray for the concerns on my heart at the time. What I like most about journaling my prayers is how God sometimes answers those prayers as I write them. It’s also neat to have a record of what I prayed for and how God answered it. It can be very encouraging to read when you find yourself spiritually low.
2) After journaling, I like to sit quietly and focus my thoughts on God. Thinking of what He has done for me already and remembering His promises straight from God’s Word, the Holy Bible. Here’s a few I like to meditate on:
a. John 3:16 NKJV 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
b. Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV 11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
c. Ezekiel 36:26 NKJV I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
d. 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.​
3) I read God’s Word. It doesn’t matter really where you read. I’ve read through the Bible from beginning to end. I’ve also read a New Testament book and then read an Old Testament book, alternating back and forth. Sometimes a few Psalms. Other times I read Proverbs. I’m currently reading through the whole Bible again in KJV, hence the reason for today’s verse. The point is READ GOD’S WORD. Read it regularly. It’s God Word to you.
4) I write down everything I feel the Spirit has prompted me to write. Sometimes this is a way to handle a certain situation I was facing. Other times it’s an idea for a devotion or article to share with others. Then again, it can be a deeper understanding of God’s character. It also can be an awareness of some sin in my life. When this occurs, I repent and ask for God’s forgiveness.

The result of having a quiet time is a deeper, richer, more fulfilling relationship with God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. Spending this time is like developing assurance and confidence in God. The more time you spend with Him, the more you know with certainty He is who He says He is and He does what He says He will do. God used my quiet time to strengthen my faith and reassure me of His love for me.

Whether your prefer quiet time outside walking in nature or studying God’s Word in your den, spending time with God is how you draw closer to Him. So when you quiet yourself and think on God, you will find Him closer than you think. As Psalm 46:10 NKJV says “10 Be still, and know that I am God;” being still and reading His Word are ways to know more of God.

Lord, I thank You for being all You say You are and for doing everything You say You will. I thank You that You want a relationship with me and desire me to draw closer through quiet times. Help me to prioritize my schedule to include those special moments with You. In Jesus’ name Amen
 
Our Choices Shape the Relationships Around Us

Have you ever watched the movie called “A Walk To Rememberâ€? I recently saw it on cable. There’s a line in the movie I just love. The young man was talking to his mother about a girl he has become attached to. He said “She makes me want to be a better man.â€
Wow! What a statement. The way the young girl lived her life before the young man caused him to want to be a better person.

Isn’t that what God wants from everyone of His children? By our lives lived on purpose with intention we can cause those around us to want to be better persons too!

Let’s look at some things the young girl did in the movie to see if we can draw any conclusions as to how we should live.

She was kind, always calm and pure. She didn’t let the trials of life affect or bother her. She always saw good in other people. She had faith in the young man and believed he would go great things. She was humble. She considered the young man to be her angel sent by God to help her. She was also dying from cancer, but was not bitter towards God because of it.

Now let’s look at what 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NKJV says about love:
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Do you see the similarities between scripture and the young woman’s life?

When we face adversities in life, such as cancer, others are watching how you handle it. In the movie, the young woman was a noble role model who didn’t blame or curse God because of the disease. Instead she lived out her life to please to God, she lived a life of love. But I challenge you, it is not just during adversity when others are watching. It’s also during the mundane every day tasks of life and how you respond to them that others are watching.

Take for example the scene where the family pet has just made a mess on the carpet and hubby, walking barefooted, has just stepped in it. If you were “hubby†how would you respond? Before you answer remember, hubby is the head of the household according to God’s design. He sets the example for the rest of the family. (No pressure!)

Choice #1: Get angry. Raise your voice to yell at your spouse, who bought the pooch you didn’t want in the first place. Angrily blame your spouse and child for not cleaning up the mess and with loads of bitterness clean up the stinky mess yourself.

Side Effects: A chain reactions is started by your snapping at your spouse. You spouse snaps back. She’s now hurt because of your tone of voice and giving you the silent treatment as she stews on her own pot of bitterness. Your child is mad because when he attempts to clean up the mess, you scold him for not doing it right. Accusation, blame, bitterness are flying around and now distance between all parties is going.

Choice #2: Calmly get something to wash your foot off. Then clean the mess on the floor or ask for help.

Side Effects: Your spouse comes over to assist with the mess. You child takes the pooch out for a walk.

Which of these choices promotes peace, conveys love and sets a positive example for the rest of the family? Which choice leaves lasting bitterness, remorse and wounds the very people you love? How would you want your children to react in a similar situation? How would you respond?

Even in the ordinary things people are watching how we respond. Are we going to respond from our old “wounded†sinful flesh? Or are we going to choose the “high way†and walk by the Spirit? What do you suppose Jesus would have done?

Next time you’re faced with a “stinky†situation think about the choices in your response. What kind of memory do you want to pass along?
 
Prayer Tips from 1 Timothy 2:8 NKJV

I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; 1 Timothy 2:8 NKJV
Do you want to bless God and make Him smile? Take the advice of this verse.

Pray everywhere – Does that mean just on Sunday when I go to church? It includes Sunday, but it’s all in compassing. Everywhere we go, we are to pray. We pray when we get up in the morning, while we eat breakfast, drive to work, while at work or school, when we need to make a decision, when we experience trials, when we are happy, when we are sad, when we come home, when we sit around, and while we lie down. What ever condition we find ourselves in and where ever we may be at the time, we pray. Prayer is communication with God. It’s a constant turning our thoughts to God, where ever we are, in that moment. Don’t forget it’s two-way communication. We talk, yes, but we also pause to allow us to listen when God speaks to us.

Lifting up holy hands – Have you ever seen a person during a worship service raising their hands over their head? Those folks are reaching up to God during worship. They’re setting aside what others may think about them and focusing soling on God, giving Him their all. The lifting up of hands is a physical expression of thankfulness, worship to and gratitude towards God for who He is. We know that by our own efforts we can not make our hands holy. We have been cleansed by Christ’s death and resurrection. Because of that we have holy hands, stretching out to touch God in all His goodness and glory.

Without wrath and doubting – Have you ever prayed with anger or hatred or bitterness towards another living being? Do you remember what some of Jesus’ disciples did when a Samaritan wouldn’t receive Jesus into his house in Luke 9:51-55 NKJV: “And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?â€â€ Jesus’ response was “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.†Based on this, we are not to pray destruction upon anyone.

We are also not to doubt when we pray. James 1:6-7 NKJV “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;†Instead of doubting, we are to pray as though we already have whatever it is we’re asking for. Look at Mark 11:24 NKJV “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.â€

Let’s review what we’ve learned from today’s verse:
1) We are to pray everywhere. Prayer is two-way communication with God. Talking to God is important, but equally important is listening to what God says to you through prayer.
2) Recognize our hands are holy because of Jesus. We praise and worship our Lord and Savior by raising our hands. It’s not the only way, just one of the ways we express worship.
3) Prayer should not be with wrath or doubting. Instead pray as though we have whatever it is we’re asking for, and then it will be ours.

Lord, we thank you for your great sacrifice to make us holy in your eyes. Thank you for saving us. Thank you for hearing our prayers and accepting our worship of you. We ask that all may come to know you as Lord and Savior. We ask this without wrath and doubting. In Jesus’ name Amen.

So how’s your prayer life? Are you in constant contact with God Almighty through prayer? He’s just a thought away. Are you listening when you pray? Are you believing you have already received whatever it is you’re praying for? Start today. He’s waiting to hear from you.
 
Cultivating Gratitude

Gratitude is formed once you realize what you have been given, who you are and from who all blessings flow.

Realizing the extent of what you’ve been given may take some time. It did for me. I was 32 years old before I realizing I had been given a second chance at life. Here’s a quick list of some things we’ve been given: Life, relationships, health, gifts, talents and abilities, God’s Word, clothing, shelter, transportation, and work.

Recognizing who you are may take even longer, as in my case. Even after I found Christ and committed my life to His Lordship, it still took me time to understand exactly who I was in Christ. To be truthful, I haven’t fully comprehended it all yet. God keeps drawing me deeper still into His magnificent love that transforms me further. The reason we have trouble finding who we are is do to our sin nature. We all fall short of God’s glory ( Romans 3:23 NKJV ). No, not one is good ( Psalm 14:3 NKJV ). We all have gone astray ( Isaiah 53:6 NKJV ). We all are sinners and separated from God.

Learning God is the source of everything might take some getting used to; especially when you’re used to running your own life by your own sufficiency. I used to think if I got a raise at work it was of my own hard work and therefore, it was my “just†reward. However, now I realize God gave me the talent and ability to certain things well and He also gave me the ability to create wealth ( Deuteronomy 8:18 NKJV ) .

Gratitude is “grown†by exercising our mind’s recollection of every good, pure, true, noble, just, praiseworthy, and honorable thing ( Philippians 4:7-9 NKJV ). When we keep our thoughts on these things we will surely never cease to praise God Almighty.

If you have a hard time being grateful, perhaps you’ve stewed in your own pot of “unmet expectations†for too long. When you compare your life to your expectations of life and come of short, guess what? You’ll always feel disappointed, let down and discouraged. I know from my own experience. Take my advice, loose the expectations they’re nothing but heartache! Believe me Jesus Christ’s power is the only thing which can end the cycle of an unhealthy thought life.

How do we cultivate gratitude?
Step 1: If you haven’t already done so, give your life to Christ. Say a simple prayer like: Jesus I know I’m a sinner and you died for me. Come into my life and make me whole again. Amen. Making Jesus the CEO and Boss of your life is the first step to success.

Step 2: Make a list of things to be thankful for. Start with the basics. Thank God for your life, your senses (sight, sound, feel, taste, smell), your health, your family, your house, your clothes, your food, your work, your car, etc. I like to thank God for His Word and the ability to read it! You get the idea.

Step 3: Keep a journal of answered prayers. Whenever you need a dose of gratefulness consult your journal to remember times when God answered your prayer and rejoice.

Step 4: Look around you. There are less fortunate people all around. Jesus said we would always have the poor among us ( John 12:8 NKJV ). There are starving people in this world, so be thankful at your next meal, even if it’s leftovers you had last night. Did you know that if you own a car you are among the world’s top 8% of the population? Be thankful. Think about this: we are not threatened or tortured or killed when we share our faith, as some people are in this world. Be incredibly grateful.

Gratitude is important to keep us grounded with a correct estimation of ourselves and an accurate assumption of the source of all blessings. How’s your gratitude level today? Need a boost in gratefulness? Follow the suggestions in this article and pray God helps you be grateful. Believe God has already answered your prayer and gratitude will flow freely.

Lord, thank you for all that you have done for us. Thank you for all we have this day. Help us to be grateful for everything. May we be mindful of others less fortunate than us and where we have the ability to do something about it, may we reach forth our hands to help. In Jesus’ name Amen.
 
God Does What He Says

Genesis 21:1 KJV “And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken.â€

When God speaks, we can trust He will carry out whatever it was He said He would do. What did the Lord say He would do to Sarah?

Genesis 17:19 KJV “And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.†Did you notice the word “indeed� It seems like it was added for extra emphasis. It’s like God is saying this is for sure, have no doubt, this thing is really going to happen.

Genesis 18:14 KJV “Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.†No, NOTHING is too hard for God. Not even causing a barren woman to give birth at an age over 90 years old! This verse also tells us God’s timing is important factor to remember: “at the appointed timeâ€.

Consider this: Our life (past, present and future) are all mapped out in God’s blueprint, according to God’s design. As He designed the plan He knows where everything goes. The events of our lives are like intricate wooden puzzle pieces that only fit together when all the pieces are inserted in the proper sequence. And only God knows the appropriate sequence to complete the puzzle.

At the appointed time…Genesis 21:2 KJV “For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.†We see from scripture, God always does what He says He will do. It’s just from our limited view it can feel like His plan is never going to happen.

Next time you find yourself in a waiting period, continue to believe God will fulfill the vision. The following verse I memorized during one of my waiting periods was a wonderful reminder to me and can be encouraging to you too. Habakkuk 2:3 KJV “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.†To tarry means to delay. The vision won’t be delayed. It will happen right on schedule. When God speaks, He follows through. You can count on it.

Lord, thank you for being a God of Your word. When you speak you also do. Thank you for your reliability and faithfulness to do what you say you will do. Help us to believe you. Increase our faith. In Jesus’ name Amen.
 
Learn in Silence

Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 1 Timothy 2:11-14 NKJV

Oh how this section of scripture cause may people to cringe. It’s not as bad as you might think. At least the way I view it anyway. Let’s take a look together.

When teacher is teaching multiple students, it’s always helpful for the students to remain silent until the teacher has finished explaining the concept completely. To remain silent during this time is productive. It allows the teacher to get the main points across and the other students to grasp the concept without being derailed by a question. In this context, I believe it is total appropriate for a woman, who naturally is more inquisitive, to remain silent and submissive to the teacher. So when you’re being taught, be silent and listen, try not to interrupt with questions until the right time.

Granted I have a little trouble with this verse 12. But here’s my explanation. God’s design was the man would be the head of the household and the woman would be submissive to her husband. The man is like Christ, meaning the head, while the woman is the body, meaning the church. We are to follow Christ, not follow somebody from the church. Therefore, as the woman was not designed to be the head over the man, she shouldn’t be in authority over him. Does this make sense? The difficulty I have is not the “authority†part, but the teaching part, for says Galatians 3:28 NKJV “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.†If we’re all one and we are moved by the Holy Spirit to teach, I’m not sure why Paul would say a woman can’t teach a man. You can decide for yourself.

As Paul doesn’t stop with verse 12, he continues with verse 13 and 14, which provide his reasoning. Adam wasn’t deceived in the garden. It was Eve who was deceived. As a result, woman have a higher chance at being deceived, this is why Paul suggests woman shouldn’t teach men. I don’t know about you, but being a woman who teaches, I am keenly aware of my capability of being deceived. The last thing I want to do is deceive anyone. So all the more reason, I spend as much time in God’s Word as possible. I figure prayer, God’s Word, and His Spirit in me are the only three things that can keep me aligned with God and not drawn away by some deception.

That’s my take on this section of scripture. Hope you found it enlightening.
 
Sharpen Your Faith with New Habits

As a believer, you’ve started a new life in Christ. For every bad habit that distances you from God, Jesus wants to give you a new habit to draw you near to Him. The goal is to stay connected with God and strengthen your relationship with Him. In keeping with our goal, here are some practical do-able suggestions to help foster new habits that keep you turning to God.

Pray always. Prayer changes things. If you can’t find the right words to pray, try reading some of Stormie OMartian’s “Power of Praying ________†books. She’s written several. Fill in the blank with wife, woman, parent or husband, depending on the perspective and focus you need some help with. These books are quite handy for expanding your personal prayer horizon and for learning to pray with God’s Word.

Read the Bible every day. I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, but it’s true. Even reading just a verse or two every day can make a huge difference in your life. God’s Word is powerful. The more you read, the more you’ll want to read. The Bible is like no other book. It’s alive. It will give your faith new life, if you’ll read it.

Memorize scripture. When you come across a verse that resonates with you, God’s probably trying to tell you something. Try to commit it to memory. Write it down on a post-it note or note card, put it somewhere you’ll see it frequently. Read it often. By spending time with a particular verse, God may be preparing you to receive further revelation about Himself or the situation you may be in.

Make God’s Word accessible. Everywhere you go, have God’s Word with you. Keep a Bible in various places like the office, in your car, and in every room of your house. They even make very slim or pocket size Bibles you can easily fit in your purse or back pack. If God’s Word is everywhere, you make it easier for you to pick it up and read it.

Change the radio station. Instead of listening to depressing talk radio or downer worldly music, consider switching to a Bible teaching or Christian music station. Hearing God’s Word while in the car turns a boring car ride into productive time with God.

Join a small group. Gathering together with other believers for Bible study, fellowship and accountability encourages one another in our faith. It helps build you up in His love. Hearing how God’s working in another’s life can cause hope to rise that He’ll come through for you too. Sharing your story with others can provide encouragement to someone and strengthen their faith as well. God made us better together.

Have you noticed the theme running through all these suggestions? That’s right, God’s Word is the main thing. Our goal is to keep the main thing, the MAIN THING. Deuteronomy 11:19-21 NKJV teaches us to tie God’s commands to our hands, bind them to our doorposts, discuss with our children when we sit down, lie down and when we stand up. How better to do that than to have God’s Word with us everywhere we go?

If you find your relationship with God growing dull or cold – STOP, check your focus. How frequently are you talking with Him? How often are you reading, hearing, thinking and speaking God’s Word? Try the suggestions for a week and see if it helps get your perspective back and re-ignite your love for God again. Remember these things are not to replace God, but to help you draw close to God. His Word by the power of His spirit draws you near, but your job is to remain in Him through obedience to His Word.

Lord, we thank You for giving us everything we need to maintain a healthy intimate relationship with You. Forgive us for straying away from You. Draw us closer by the power of Your Spirit. Thank You for Your life sustaining Word and Your Spirit within us to teach us Your truth. Help us develop godly habits that strengthen our faith in You. In Jesus name Amen.
 
Pop Quiz Time

This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. 1 Timothy 3:1-7 NKJV

Wow, what a list of qualifications. Even if you don’t desire to be a bishop, this is a good reminder for the children of God. All of these things should be present in God’s people, not just a bishop.

We all need reminders of the good path to follow. Today’s verse is a good check list. Review it for yourself. How well does it apply to you? If you find you’re not doing so well, thank God for revealing areas you and He can work on together.

I love verses like this one and 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NKJV because they provide a test I can use to determine how well I’m allowing the Spirit in me to conform me to God’s character. Try it for yourself. Simply read the verse above as though someone was describing you. How well does that fit? Are there areas you’re struggling with?

Lord, thank You for Your Word that so clearly describes godly behavior. Thank You for Your Spirit to lead us in Your ways. Forgive us when we fall short and help us to allow You to work in us. Develop Your character in us, so more of You is evident and less of us is displayed to the world around us. May we be diligent in our studies of Your Word and in the application of it in our lives. In Jesus’ name Amen.
 
What If Marriage Is Meant To Make You Holy Rather Than Happy?

This is a question for all the readers out there. I'm currently doing a bible study called Sacred Marriage. Lesson 1 focus is on the purpose of marriage. It doesn't matter if you're married or single. I'd like you to consider the question above.

If God designed marriage with the purpose of developing His character in you, rather than for your happiness, how would that change your perspective on marriage?

What is holy anyway? Study God's Word to find out. God said "Be holy, for I am holy." When I look for the word "holy" throughout the Bible, I find locations can be holy, days can be holy, clothes could be holy, nations could be holy, people could be holy and of course God is holy. Holiness is like purity, having motives like God, for the good of others. Holiness is like love, thinking of others above yourself.

What if we started being holy in our marriages? What would that look like? How would our responses change?

Did you know happiness will find you, if you willingly follow God's ways. If God wants us to be holy, we should be holy and the result is a lasting joy appears in our life.

Any comments or thoughts you'd like to share?
 
Holiness and Sanctification

Continuing with yesterday’s theme of holiness, I wanted to research more about the word. Using BibleGateway.com Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary resource, here’s what it said about Holiness and Sanctification.

Holiness in the highest sense belongs to God (Isa. 6:3; Rev. 15:4), and to Christians as consecrated to God's service, and in so far as they are conformed in all things to the will of God (Rom. 6:19, 22; Eph. 1:4; Titus 1:8; 1 Pet. 1:15). Personal holiness is a work of gradual development. It is carried on under many hindrances, hence the frequent admonitions to watchfulness, prayer, and perseverance (1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 7:1; Eph. 4:23, 24). See Sanctification.

So we see from above that holiness is a gradual process. Once we become Christ’s we are ever changing, morphing into His image. Everything in life (marriage, singleness, parenting, work, school, health, etc) is used as an instrument of conforming us to our heavenly Father’s character.

Sanctification involves more than a mere moral reformation of character, brought about by the power of the truth: it is the work of the Holy Spirit bringing the whole nature more and more under the influences of the new gracious principles implanted in the soul in regeneration. In other words, sanctification is the carrying on to perfection the work begun in regeneration, and it extends to the whole man (Rom. 6:13; 2 Cor. 4:6; Col. 3:10; 1 John 4:7; 1 Cor. 6:19). It is the special office of the Holy Spirit in the plan of redemption to carry on this work (1 Cor. 6:11; 2 Thess. 2:13). Faith is instrumental in securing sanctification, inasmuch as it (1) secures union to Christ (Gal. 2:20), and (2) brings the believer into living contact with the truth, whereby he is led to yield obedience "to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life and that which is to come."
Perfect sanctification is not attainable in this life (1 Kings 8:46; Prov. 20:9; Eccl. 7:20; James 3:2; 1 John 1:8). See Paul's account of himself in Rom. 7:14-25; Phil. 3:12-14; and 1 Tim. 1:15; also the confessions of David (Ps. 19:12, 13; 51), of Moses (90:8), of Job (42:5, 6), and of Daniel (9:3-20). "The more holy a man is, the more humble, self-renouncing, self-abhorring, and the more sensitive to every sin he becomes, and the more closely he clings to Christ. The moral imperfections which cling to him he feels to be sins, which he laments and strives to overcome. Believers find that their life is a constant warfare, and they need to take the kingdom of heaven by storm, and watch while they pray. They are always subject to the constant chastisement of their Father's loving hand, which can only be designed to correct their imperfections and to confirm their graces. And it has been notoriously the fact that the best Christians have been those who have been the least prone to claim the attainment of perfection for themselves." Hodge's Outlines.
Remember, God’s not done with us yet. We are in the process of becoming more like Him. He is faithful to carry out that process until Christ returns. Every day reveals more improvements, slight changes in mindset and/or behavior. Each new struggle is an opportunity for us to exercise the will of God and respond out of love rather than self-centeredness. Therefore, we continue to focus on the eternal things for only the eternal things will last. We know what we see is temporary and is passing away.

How are you doing on your holiness and sanctification? Any progress towards God is great. Don't get discouraged. Persevere for even in the persevering God is using it to develop His character in you.
 
Love One Another

John 13:34 NKJV A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
Jesus gave us this commandment: Love one another as I have loved you. This fits so well with the topic of marriage. In the bible study called Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas we looked at Luke 6:41-42 NKJV and discussed how God uses our spouse as a mirror to help us see what areas in our life need some improving.

I wanted to expand on that thought. In Luke 6, we saw we are not supposed to point out the “speck†in someone else’s eye until after we’ve dealt with the “plank†in our own eye. Consider what it might be like to have someone constantly pointing out your flaws, when you can plainly see they have their own flaws they should be concentrating on. Do you suppose the criticized person would feel loved? I highly doubt it.

When Jesus told us to love one another, he didn’t say love one another by any old standard or means. He specifically said “love one another as I have loved you.†That’s a whole different kind of love, isn’t. Jesus’ love for us caused Him to physically give up His life to pay for our sins. By His sacrifice, we are pardoned and given eternal life. He laid down everything associated with His flesh that He would carry out God’s grace and extend forgiveness to those who didn’t deserve it. Did He ask us if we wanted Him do that for us? No, but out of love, He choose to do it. Think about the ramifications in our marriage, if we choose to lay down our flesh, share God’s grace and dispense forgiveness to our spouse, who may not “deserve†it.

Taking Jesus’ words to heart and applying them in our life may, in one sense, mean instead of focusing on our spouse’s weakness we consider our own weaknesses and remember the grace and forgiveness God has already given us. This should compel us to extend the same grace and forgiveness towards our spouse.

Lord, thank you for your awesome love! Thank you for your Words of Life! Keep us coming back for more, learning and growing in You.. Help us lay down our life, as Jesus did, for the sake of loving others as You loved us. In Jesus name Amen.
 
A Deeper Look at Genesis 26

The Bible doesn’t tell us if Abraham spent time telling Isaac of God’s wonderful deeds towards him or not. Although, I imagine Abraham and Sarah probably did tell Isaac some outrage stories of how God was active in their lives. They had plenty they could have shared with Isaac about the miracles of God. After all Isaac, himself, was a miracle given to them by God, at very old age!

What about the time God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac and seeing that Abraham was faithful to the Lord, an angel told Abraham not to harm the boy and the Lord provided himself a sacrifice! Isaac, surely, would have remembered that! How about when Abraham journeyed into the land Gerar and was afraid for his life because of Sarah’s beauty, that he made Sarah lie to Abimelech king of the Philistines saying she was Abraham’s sister? Even in that situation, God was with Abraham, because God came to Abimelech in a dream telling him not to touch Sarah. I wonder whether Abraham told Isaac about this or not.

So here we are in the opening scene of Genesis 26 and there was another famine that caused Isaac to go to Abimelech king of the Philistines in the land of Gerar. Wow! Check this out, this the same king Abraham had dealings with back in Genesis 21! Can you imagine, King Abimelech’s response “So, you’re Abraham’s son!†Maybe Abimelech had one of those “flashbacks†as he remembered the oath he made Abraham swear in Genesis 21:23. Having remembered it I wonder if Abimelech was thinking about whether Isaac was going to honor the same oath or not.

Back to the story, since there was famine in the land Isaac was probably tempted to take matters into his own hands by go into foreign lands looking for food for his family. But wait, the Lord appears to Isaac telling him not to go down into Egypt but instead to dwell in the land which He will tell him. What a blessing! Before Isaac could make a bad decision, the Lord appears to him giving him guidance! What an awesome God we have!

Next the Lord reconfirms the promise Him made with Isaac’s dad, Abraham. Genesis 26: -4 NKJV “3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; 4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;â€

As if that wasn’t enough reassurance for Isaac, God goes on to tell him why He’s going to do all this: Genesis 26:5 NKJV “Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.†Apparently, the Lord convinced Isaac because in the next scene we see Isaac stayed where he was just as the Lord had directed him.

The next thing that happens is hilarious to me. Genesis 26:7 “And the men of the place asked him [Isaac] of his wife; and he said, She is my sister: for he feared to say, She is my wife; lest, said he, the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she was fair to look upon.†Does this sound familiar? Abraham did the same thing to these same people back in Genesis 20. Here we have the next generation, Isaac, following in Abraham’s footsteps quite literally! Did Isaac know his dad did that too? Or was Isaac simply operating out of the same selfishness his dad operated out of at the time? We don’t know.

Oh but I love how this turns out! Abimelech says to Isaac in Genesis 26:10-11 “And Abimelech said, “What is this thou hast done unto us? One of the people might lightly have lien with thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought guiltiness upon us. 11 And Abimelech charged all his people, saying, He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.†Even though Isaac lied, God used his lie to cause Abimelech to command his people not to touch Isaac or his wife! That meant Isaac and Rebekah were protected in that land. What a blessing!

As time went on God had blessed Isaac so he became great with possessions of flocks, herds and servants, so much so the Philistines envied him. King Abimelech saw Isaac was mightier than them, so he sent Isaac away from them. However, when Isaac began to re-dig the wells his father had dug previously, the Philistines came and claimed it. Isaac didn’t complain, he just moved to the next well and re-dug it. Again, when he found water, the Philistines came and claimed it. Isaac patiently endured this, even though it seemed unfair.

On the third time digging a well, Isaac found water and the Philistine did NOT steal this one. Isaac named this well “Rehoboth†saying the Lord has made room for us. That night the Lord appeared to Isaac again reminding him of the promise to him and his seed after him. Isaac built an alter to God and worshipped the Lord there.

Isn’t it beautiful how the Lord provided for Issac? Abimelech and his people could definitely tell the Lord was with Isaac. No matter how many times they stole Isaac’s wells, the Lord provided other wells.

In the next scene we see Abimelech coming to Isaac. Genesis 26: 28-29 “And they said, We saw certainly that the LORD was with thee: and we said, Let there be now an oath betwixt us, even betwixt us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee; 29 That thou wilt do us no hurt, as we have not touched thee, and as we have done unto thee nothing but good, and have sent thee away in peace: thou art now the blessed of the LORD.â€
Having a little deja vu? Abimelech, knowing the Lord is with Isaac and he would never be able to overthrow him, decides to make a deal with Isaac just like he did with Abraham.

I enjoy reading how Isaac lived his life before the people of the land and how everyone could tell the Lord was with him. It’s the same with us. When we walk humbly with our Lord, the world around us will be able to tell. We don’t have to say a word because our way of living based on God’s Word will be the only testimony we need. I don’t know about you, but this gives me great comfort and relieves me of the burden of trying to convince anyone to come to the Lord because if I am faithful to obey God’s way then it will be the evidence of God working in me. People will be able to see God is real simply by seeing the change in me. The Holy Spirit may use my life to draw people closer to God.

What have we learned from Genesis 26?
1) God keeps his promises and rewards those who follow Him.
2) Sometimes we follow in our parent’s foot steps unknowingly. This should cause us to think about the legacy we are leaving our own children. Hopefully, we are pointing our children to God by how we live.
3) Even if we slip up or make a mistake, God is able to bring good out of it.
4) We need only to live our life in obedience to God to become a witness for Him. It’s not what we say, but how we live that makes the greatest impact in the lives of others.

Lord, thank you for your faithfulness to us. Help us live a life in obedience to You. Thank you for bringing good out of our mistakes. May Your good work in and through us be used by the Holy Spirit as a light drawing others to a saving faith in You, Jesus. In Jesus’ name Amen.
 
Do you believe this?

John 11:24-26 NKJV Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.†25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?â€

Believing Jesus and God’s Word is crucial for our salvation. But it’s also needed if we are to be blessed. Martha believed and saw her brother raised from death. Some blind guys believed and Jesus healed them. There was a women who believed if she could touch the hem of Jesus’ clothes, she would be healed and guess what? According to her faith, she was healed. The gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) there are filled with examples of people who believed and were blessed for it.

Belief is needed for the miracle to follow. Did you notice Jesus asked Martha if she believed Him before He raised Lazarus from dead? Jesus also asked the blind men if they believed and only after they answered “Yes, Lord†did Jesus heal them. Matthew 9:28-29 “And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?†They said to Him, “Yes, Lord. Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you.â€â€

Over and over we’re told by Jesus all things are possible to him who believes ( Mark 9:23). Jesus says nothing is impossible for those who believe. Mark 11:23 “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.†Notice Jesus instructs us not to doubt. Instead He says believe you already have received whatever it is you’re praying for. Mark 11:24 continues with: “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.†Jesus says (Mark 5:36) “Do not be afraid; only believe.â€

Can you imagine the possibilities available to us, if we would only believe? God in His infinite resources can and will provide for us whatever we ask, as long as we believe it.

So how about you, do you believe these things?

Lord, thank you for being true to your word. What you say, you will do. We trust you and believe in you. Let us continue to believe so your light may shine forth and be a witness to those around us. Help us with out unbelief and strengthen our faith in you. In Jesus name Amen.
 
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