Oh, for the faith of our forefathers

Scripture: Genesis 23 

OBSERVATION (What is God saying here?)

6 “No!” Abraham responded. “Be careful never to take my son there.7 For the Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and my native land, solemnly promised to give this land to my descendants. He will send his angel ahead of you, and he will see to it that you find a wife there for my son.8 If she is unwilling to come back with you, then you are free from this oath of mine. But under no circumstances are you to take my son there.” Gen 24:6-8 (NLT)

14 This is my request. I will ask one of them, ‘Please give me a drink from your jug.’ If she says, ‘Yes, have a drink, and I will water your camels, too!’—let her be the one you have selected as Isaac’s wife. This is how I will know that you have shown unfailing love to my master.” Gen 24:14 (NLT)

APPLICATION (How Can I apply what God is saying here to my circumstances today?)

This is a pretty amazing chapter to read on the faith of our forefathers, wow! Abraham heard from God on who his son Isaac should marry, and who he shouldn’t marry, and where exactly Isaac should settle down at. So he sent his servant to look for a wife for Isaac so that Isaac wouldn’t be tempted to stay in the destination that Abraham was convinced his wife would come from. Abraham was convinced of his actions and followed through with them in faith believing God. It seems like his servant left for the journey a little hesitant, but yet willing to follow the orders of his master. Surely there must have been a degree of assurance based on the many times he had seen Abraham’s faith in action before. It was interesting to see the servant also bow before God with his own requests for this awesome task assigned to him by his master. It was also amazing to see how God answered the prayers of Abraham and his servant and then to see how pleased Isaac was with his new wife that was picked for him. This has once again reminded me of how awesome my God is, and how He will come through for us as we pray in faith, and as we follow His will obediently.

PRAYER (With God’s help, what am I going to do differently today because He said it?)

Lord please help me to never question You and Your will for my life. My problems are extremely minor in comparison to the awesome tasks that I read about in this chapter today. Please help me to draw so close to You that I will know Your will for my life and that I will seek with all that I have to follow Your commands, Your Word and ultimately, Your direction for my life and for those that I influence and have responsibility. You are all powerful, and not only have You made everything around me, but You have everything under Your control. Thank You Father for that assurance, and for loving and caring for me enough to want to see the very best for me. My desire is to follow Your will for my life. I pray that my faith will be strengthened each and every day that I walk alongside of You!

Obedience that shows our fear of god

Scripture: Genesis 22 

OBSERVATION (What is God saying here?)

12 “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”13 Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son.14 Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the Lord will provide”). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”  Gen 22:12-14 (NLT)

APPLICATION (How Can I apply what God is saying here to my circumstances today?)

Abraham had been an outstanding child of God up to this point, obeying God’s every command and doing what he thought would please God. Yet in verse 1 of this chapter we are told that God tested his faith, and oh what a test! He commanded Abraham to sacrifice his dearly loved son, Isaac. The scripture shares nothing about Abraham questioning God or trying to make any deal with God, he simply followed God’s instructions. Because of his obedience, God intervened and saved Abraham from such a sacrifice. I wonder if we, or if I am obedient enough to God’s instructions that I would do whatever He asked me to do, and secondly, am I obedient enough for God to say, OK you have proven that you truly fear Me. In my opinion, this is the ultimate proof of our love for God and our obedience to Him, when we are willing to follow what He tells us to do no matter what. God loves us so much that He willingly sacrificed His Son, Jesus, and He didn’t hesitate and withdraw at the last moment, like He allowed in the case of Abraham and Isaac. So lessons learned here tells me that God loves me so much that He sacrificed it all. He also loves us so much that He would be willing to step in and save the day for us, His children, when we prove to Him that we truly love and fear Him. Perhaps we will be blessed enough to name the place where we recognized God’s miracle in our life, much like Abraham did in the case of ‘Yahweh-Yireh’!

PRAYER (With God’s help, what am I going to do differently today because He said it?)

The kind of love that You extend to me is way beyond human comprehension, O Lord. You have shown in Your Word just how loving and kind You were to those before me, and I have every reason to believe that You love me equally as much. May I be bold enough, obedient enough, honest enough and committed enough to show my love and respect in all that You command of me. Abraham was obedient even to the extent that he was willing to sacrifice his greatly loved son. May I be obedient to Your voice today dear God!

Be Happy, don’t worry!

Scripture: Matthew 6

OBSERVATION (What is God saying here?)

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matt 6:31-33 (NLT)

APPLICATION (How Can I apply what God is saying here to my circumstances today?)

Many of us experience the pressure and stress of financial burdens from time to time, consequently many of us worry about everything that is affected when we are challenged financially. We are told in this scripture that this type of worry is evident of the unbeliever, because they have no hope, they have no scriptural direction, they have no reason to believe that they needn’t worry. Instead we are to know that ‘every little thing is gonna be alright’! In the verses leading up to this, Jesus shares examples about the birds and the lilies, and how much more valuable we are to Him than these. Therefore, as He takes such good care of them and provides for their everyday needs, imagine how much more He will hear our cry and take care of our needs. Wow, to have a heavenly Father who loves us so much that He would take care of us so wonderfully, gives me encouragement today, gives me hope for tomorrow and gives me a future to look forward to, as I rest in the palm of His hand. Let’s make the worries of this life disappear as we place our faith and trust in the hands of our Savior who has promised to watch over us and take care of us, because we are way more valuable to Him than any other plant or creature that He made. As we look at all the beauty around us, let’s stop to reflect on how much more we are loved and how much more God has promised to shine in and through us, so that others may see His beauty!

PRAYER (With God’s help, what am I going to do differently today because He said it?)

Wow, what a reminder dear God! It is so easy to worry about all that we bring on ourselves and all that this world serves up to us. I pray that I will have the strength and power to look beyond the temporal things of this world that may bear on my mind, and reflect on the awesome God that loves me so much that You have promised to care for me, especially when I may feel like the world has served up extreme challenges on me. Thank You for Your love dear God, please take my hand and lead me through each and every day!

Is there anything too hard for the lord?

Scripture: Genesis 18

OBSERVATION (What is God saying here?)

13 Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Gen 18:13-14 (NLT)

APPLICATION (How Can I apply what God is saying here to my circumstances today?)

In the everyday rush of life and circumstances we often face challenges that seem insurmountable to us. When our selfish wishes don’t come true, or if our prayers are not answered like we envision in our own minds, we tend to feel like God is not in control and/or that He does not hear our prayers. In this chapter we read where Abraham and Sarah has grown very old, yet God has seen fit to still bless them with another child. Sarah felt like the plan of God was so far out that she laughed, because the plan sounded so far out to her. I believe that today as we face life’s challenges we may not even go to God with our concerns because we feel like our problems are way too big. I believe that God is saying to me, and/or to us, O Ye of Little Faith! Is anything too hard for the Lord? Friends, we serve the creator and developer of this universe, the One who spoke all this into existence. Is there anything too hard for Him? I would dare say that He can do all things! He can handle every problem or challenge that seem so impossible to us. Today let’s let go, and let God be God!

PRAYER (With God’s help, what am I going to do differently today because He said it?)

Father I know that You must look at Your children and often say “O ye of little faith, have I not proven myself to you on numerous occasions? Why won’t you let me help you?”. Please help me to learn to place my trust in You and allow You to be God in all circumstances of my life. You are well aware of all that is troubling me today. I have no need to worry, because I need to just place everything into Your care and allow You to take control. Thank You for reminding me of Your power this morning. Thank You for reminding me that nothing is too hard for You! As I place myself into Your powerful hands again today, I pray that You will relieve me of every concern that tend to burden me. I need You each and every day through each and every situation. Please take control of every decision and every aspect of this life, and allow me to look through Your eyes when I am tempted to worry. Thank You for loving me so much!

A Covenant Relationship

Scripture: Genesis 17

OBSERVATION (What is God saying here?)

1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life.2 I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants.”3 At this, Abram fell face down on the ground. Then God said to him,4 “This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations!5 What’s more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations.6 I will make you extremely fruitful. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them! Gen 17:1-6 (NLT)

APPLICATION (How Can I apply what God is saying here to my circumstances today?)

Much is said in God’s Work about covenant relationships. In this particular chapter there were several covenant relationships made with Abram (Abraham) and they all were similar in form. God made a covenant that He would do certain things and this was either preceded, or followed by, certain things that would be required by Abram and/or his people. In this particular covenant God told his servant who was once fatherless, that he would become the father of countless descendants and of many nations, and to mark this his name would be changed to reflect the new him, because Abraham actually means ‘Father of Many’. Now prior to all this being revealed, God demanded of Abram that he vow to serve Him faithfully and live a blameless life. Throughout God’s Word He makes many promises to us, the greatest of which was the gift of His Son Jesus. In this particular covenant, God sent His Son so that those of us that believe on, and accept Him as Lord of our life, would have eternal life. At Christmas time we celebrate the gift that was presented to us. I trust that for all who may read this devotional, You would truly accept this gift and complete the covenant presented by God, for I guarantee you that He will live up to His part of the covenant by opening heaven’s gates and receiving us into eternity with Him. Friend I pray that your eyes will be opened to this invitation, because the alternative is not very bright for those who refuse to accept Jesus. An eternal life of damnation and the unpleasentries of Hell is not anything that I can imagine anyone wanting to set as a goal in their life.

PRAYER (With God’s help, what am I going to do differently today because He said it?)

Father I thank You for the greatest gift ever given – Your Son. I thank You also for touching my life and encouraging me to accept Your gift some 35 years ago. I am concerned about the numerous number of family and/or friends and/or co-workers that have chosen to ignore Your gift and the covenant You have offered to us. I pray that this will be an important Christmas weekend in the lives of those that You have touched my life through, because I pray that You will once again overly sensitize their hearts so that they will understand how hopeless life is without You. May they experience the real meaning of the reason that we celebrate Christmas as they surrender and submit their lives to You this week.

Strive for Perfection, Just as Christ is Perfect!

Scripture: Matthew 5

OBSERVATION (What is God saying here?)

48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. Matt 5:48 (NLT)

APPLICATION (How Can I apply what God is saying here to my circumstances today?)

At the conclusion of a chapter devoted to telling us how to live a true Christ-like life, Jesus tells us that we are to strive for perfection like the only perfect One – Himself. I feel like there are several things to consider here:

  1. In Character: When we continually sin and just shrug it off to excuses like: “Well I’m sorry, after all I’m just human” or “It’s OK, I know that God will forgive me”or “Well, there’s always another chance for me to try and do this right”, then I believe that we are giving in to being a child of this world and accepting the pitfalls and weaknesses of this world rather than placing our faith solidly in the hands of the almighty and striving wholeheartedly to be like Him. Let’s aspire to be as much like Christ as possible. He will see our sincerity and help us through our human flaws;
  2. In Holiness: In striving to be more like Christ, we will find that love for, and service to others, become a priority in our lives. God showed mercy and love even to those who hated Him and chose to fight against Him. Look at how He healed the soldier in the Garden of Gethsemane. Let’s remember that we are chosen by God to carry His love into this sick world and represent Him in all of our interaction with sinners.
  3. In Maturity: Christ-like maturity doesn’t happen instantly. Just like we expect more from a teenager than we do from a child, or more from an adult than we do from a teenager because of the years of maturing into adulthood, so it is as we study God’s Word, learn more about Him and how we can become more like Him. We should be showing signs of maturing more and more each day. Friends, we don’t mature into adulthood strictly by what we learn in school – we learn it from our everyday living. So it is with maturing as a Christian – don’t depend solely on what you may learn from a weekly sermon. Get into the Word (God’s book of instruction) and learn daily what it is that God is teaching you that day to help you mature in Him.
  4. In Love: We must seek to love others with the same love that Christ loved us. He gave His life for us, while we still hated Him, while we plotted to kill Him, while we spat in His face and mocked Him. We weren’t deserving of His love, yet He gave it all to show His love for us. That’s the kind of love we must have for those that we come into contact with daily.

Christ calls us to rise above mediocrity and be perfect even as He is perfect. When we strive for this perfection we stop accepting anything less. One day we will be perfect, just as He is perfect!

PRAYER (With God’s help, what am I going to do differently today because He said it?)

Lord Jesus, I acknowledge that I serve the only perfect one. My desire is to daily grow to be, or mature to be, more like You in every way. This means that I am striving to also be perfect. This requires my daily time on Your Word and my ultimate desire to overcome the things of this world that will distract me in every way possible. However, I have the confidence in knowing that I serve the only One who could give me the strength, wisdom, desire, boldness and power to overcome the sinfulness of this world and strive for ultimate perfection in You. Please give me a constant desire to be more like You so that others may see Jesus in me and want to also know You. thank You for providing such an example for me to follow and mature in.

Intent of the Heart and Obedience to the Word

Scripture: Matthew 5

OBSERVATION (What is God saying here?)

17 “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.20 “But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!  Matt 5:17-20 (NLT)

APPLICATION (How Can I apply what God is saying here to my circumstances today?)

I believe that today we know many who try everything to get around the law, or they try to see how close they can come in doing something without getting arrested or caught for actually doing the crime. Take for instance speeding on the highways. We know that we could get a pricy ticket if we are caught, so we purchase a ‘fuzz buster’ to tell us when we are approaching a highway patrolman. Now in God’s records, can we be accused of breaking the law of the land? Of course we can. Just because we may hide behind a ‘fuzz buster’ or a lie, or anything else, God knows what actually took place. In fact, Jesus taught that even if we are angry enough to murder, we have sinned, even if we didn’t actually pull the trigger, or plunge the dagger. These were the type of folk that Jesus was teaching in this passage, and I believe that as I described, our folk that He would be teaching today. Even though I can’t think of how this applies to me, what caught my attention is verse 19, where Jesus teaches that if we ignore in the least, one of His commands, and we teach others to do so, then we would be considered one of the least in His Kingdom. I trust that I will be devoted to serving Christ to the fullest and obeying His commands each and every day, and that this will be so evident in my life that others will not be misled. If our hearts have been hardened to the Word of God, may we be blessed with a man of God to preach the Word to reveal our shortcomings this week.

PRAYER (With God’s help, what am I going to do differently today because He said it?)

Father I know that many times we will do something often enough until we will lose sight of whether it is wrong or not. I pray today that You will open my mind and my understanding to anything that I may do that is not in line with Your Word and in obedience to Your commands. I pray that my every word and every action will be from a heart devoted to You and with the intent of leading others to know You and understand Your teachings. Please touch my heart daily and give me the desire to obey Your commands, followed by the actions that would display the intent of Your Word.

Be a Godly Example and receive His Blessings

Scripture: Genesis 13

OBSERVATION (What is God saying here?)

14 After Lot had gone, the Lord said to Abram, “Look as far as you can see in every direction—north and south, east and west.15 I am giving all this land, as far as you can see, to you and your descendants as a permanent possession.16 And I will give you so many descendants that, like the dust of the earth, they cannot be counted!17 Go and walk through the land in every direction, for I am giving it to you.”18 So Abram moved his camp to Hebron and settled near the oak grove belonging to Mamre. There he built another altar to the Lord.  Gen 13:14-18 (NLT)

APPLICATION (How Can I apply what God is saying here to my circumstances today?)

In an earlier chapter we saw where Noah pleased God when he created an altar and gave a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God. In turn, he was blessed with a lot more than he thought he would have just coming out of the ark. In this passage we see where Abram was very open in being a peace maker. He was the key leader in this whole journey with Lot, yet when strife broke out, Abram was the one willing to step back and give Lot first preference in whichever land he wanted to settle on with his family, herds and belongings, and Abram settled for whatever was left. Although not specifically said in the passage, it is evident that this peaceful act, this display of family love and devotion, pleased God very much. In fact, so much so, that He met with Abram and showed him everything that would really belong to him. Abram, being the Godly man that he was, settled in and immediately built an altar to the Lord. Today it almost seems to be more important that we strive to be the revenger, the better man, the victor, the winner, to look bigger in the eyes of onlookers or those we try to impress, instead of being the peacemaker like Abram. I don’t believe that it ever hurts to eat ‘humble pie’ and always please God with our actions. This helps us be a much ‘bigger’ person in the eyes of our beholders, as they will realize that it must have been the power of God working in and through us, to face possible condemnation, possible defeat in the eyes of those looking for a fight, but to look and act more like God in what He would do in the same circumstance. In our passage today God has shown yet another example of what it means to represent Him and act in a Christian manner in our everyday lives. As we study His Word we will find more and more ways to look more like Him in all that we do and say instead of jumping in with both feet and doing what self, or the world promotes. Let’s be God-followers, even if it means eating the ‘humble pie’ like Abram did! In all circumstances let us be good examples of God in word and deed.

PRAYER (With God’s help, what am I going to do differently today because He said it?)

Your Word is filled with examples of how we should act and what it really means to represent You well while blessed to be here on this earth. Thank You for the example of Abram in this passage today. Today we are faced with equally as important decisions and/or challenges. May I not act in haste and respond in a manner outside of Your will or Your character. May I continue to represent You well in the good times, but may I also learn to represent You even more when old Satan rears his ugly head and tries to bring out the worst in me. May the worst in me be cleansed by You and replaced with qualities pleasing to You so that I may respond to life’s circumstances in a Godly fashion. It’s You I live for and You that I desire to please in all that I say or do, but I need Your constant touch on my life. Please continue to teach me Your ways and give me strength each day to be victorious in being Your representative in all things and in all ways.

Dt 11:22: (The Blessings of Obedience) – 22 “Be careful to obey all these commands I am giving you. Show love to the Lord your God by walking in his ways and holding tightly to him.

God is still God!

SCRIPTURE Studied: Genesis 12

OBSERVATION (What is God saying here?)

7 Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your descendants. ” And Abram built an altar there and dedicated it to the Lord, who had appeared to him.8 After that, Abram traveled south and set up camp in the hill country, with Bethel to the west and Ai to the east. There he built another altar and dedicated it to the Lord, and he worshiped the Lord.9 Then Abram continued traveling south by stages toward the Negev. 10 At that time a severe famine struck the land of Canaan, forcing Abram to go down to Egypt, where he lived as a foreigner. Gen 12:7-10 (NLT)

APPLICATION (How Can I apply what God is saying here to my circumstances today?)

At the beginning of this chapter it is so amazing to see God at work in Abram’s life, and also Abram being so obedient to leave his hometown and all the people that he knew, to move to a foreign land far away. In these verses, it is also interesting to note that during Abram’s journey everything was not rosy, no, everything did not go without a hitch and/or challenges. In fact, while passing through Canaan there was a great famine that hit the area. Now in a perfect world, most of us would say that if this was a journey destined by God, led and directed by Him, then why would there be obstacles. Friends this is the same way it is today. Just because we surrender our hearts to the Lord, we are not exempted from all the trials and tribulations of this world – at least as long as we live in this world! Often challenges will come our way – the question, or challenge for us is to determine is, which way will we go? A life totally surrendered to God will always do like Abram did, we will wait for further instructions, while during the interim challenge, looking to God for direction and depending on Him for strength to overcome. I believe that often our faith is determined by how we handle trials, not just on how well we do during the times of blessings and riches. God is still God during the highs, and during the lows of our lives. We must insure that our faith holds strong daily, because we don’t know what may be in store for us each day. Let’s think in terms of a partnership, we don’t jump ship on our partner on a day when things are rough, nor do we when our partnership celebrates its highs. A true partnership stays in tact during both good and bad times. So should our relationship with God. What are you facing today? Trust only in God and never lean on your own understanding, for only He knows what lies ahead for us. I love the words of that gospel song “God of the Mountain”, listen to it and be blessed as you reflect on the words of this Bible passage.

PRAYER (With God’s help, what am I going to do differently today because He said it?)

Like in the case of Abram, You bless me beyond measure each day oh God, and this morning I want to say thank You with all of my heart. Please forgive me when I worry about the challenges I see in life from the small perspective of my personal abilities. Please help me to stay so focused on You that I will always look through Your eyes and therefore face life’s challenges with the benefit of Your unlimited power and Your everlasting love for me. I believe that as I place my faith totally in You, I will always receive Your protection and You will bring me through life’s challenges in ways that will bring You glory. I know that this may not always come in the way that I may personally desire, but Lord I pray that You will help me to hide behind the cross and allow Your glory to shine through in all that I do or say. Self is insignificant in the whole scheme of things, for only those things that are done for Christ will last. May Your love shine through in all that is done in Your name this Christmas time! Thank You for sending Your Son as a babe, so that we may ultimately be re-born into life with You, and accepted into Your kingdom!

Make God First in Your Life, then……

SCRIPTURE Studied: Matthew 4

OBSERVATION (What is God saying here?)

18 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living.19 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”20 And they left their nets at once and followed him.21 A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too.22 They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind. Matt 4:18-22 (NLT)

APPLICATION (How Can I apply what God is saying here to my circumstances today?)

While this seems like a miraculous thing for Jesus to call these men from what they were doing, and especially for them to leave their secular jobs and follow Him, I believe that this also occurs today. We were created by God, and while our flesh strives to live in and enjoy the pleasures of this world, I believe that our inward soul longs to be with Jesus and live a life pleasing to Him while here on this earth. Unfortunately I believe that the latter is not possible until we accept that deep longing to accept Jesus as Lord of our life. We can always stop and think of what life could be like if we weren’t so stuck on pleasing others. It is so unfortunate that we try so hard to please our peers, our family, our friends, our co-workers, our boss, our pastor and then with whatever is left in us we try to please God. Friend why not try and do this in reverse order – surrender your heart to God, give Him 100% of your effort to please Him and follow His commands, then watch how easy it will be to see others accept you for who you are. A life surrendered to, committed to and following the commands of Jesus will result in a happy, satisfied, fulfilled life with a purpose and a goal oriented mindset that will be fixed on Jesus Christ. Oh that we will do just that this Christmas season – a time on our calendar that we dedicate to the One whose birthday is the whole purpose of Christmas.

PRAYER (With God’s help, what am I going to do differently today because He said it?)

Father, I rededicated myself anew to You this Christmas. I pray that You will direct me each and every day, especially during this busy time on my calendar. I pray that You will help me place my life in perspective – You first, and all else to follow as You direct. May I be deep into Your Word daily so that I may learn of and subsequently follow the plan You have designed for my life. May I be an influence to others, especially those that have not yet accepted You as Lord of their lives. Like Peter, Andrew, James and John, may I be obedient to Your call on my life and serve You willingly every day. Please touch the lives of all readers today that they too may first of all accept You as Lord, then submit their lives totally to You and Your service. You gave Your very best that very first ‘Christmas’, may we in turn give our very best to You this Christmas.