Sunday, December 30, 2007
2And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,
3Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.
4And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.
5So he went and did according unto the word of the LORD: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.
6And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.
1 Kings 17:1-6, King James Version
Elijah Guided by God
King Ahab continually sought to take the life of Elijah, the prophet. When God determined to bring a famine on the land, he sent Elijah to Ahab, King of Israel, with the news that there would be neither rain or dew on the land for several years.
Elijah was guided by God to bring this news to King Ahab, and then protected by God as He told Elijah to hide by the brook Cherith. The life of the Christian is often filled with turmoils, trials, and difficulties; God often leads His children on the steep and narrow path. But, with that guidance, God also provides shelter and safety from the world. It seems a contradiction that the most difficult and troublesome road is the safest and most joyous path for the Christian.
God has a specific purpose for each of His children to fulfill; it is not an easy road, but in the end, it is the most blessed road. What is your purpose as a child of God? What are your goals in life? Do the two contradict one another, or are they interwoven throughout the threads of your life.
Pray today that as you ponder Elijah, guided by God, you would also ponder your own life and your own relationship to God. Nothing in this world is of more importance than your Christian walk before the Lord of all Glory. Only in Him will you find perfect rest and perfect peace.
God Bless You,
Saturday, December 29, 2007
12And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.
13And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.
14And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?
15And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.
16And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.
Judges 6:11-16, King James Version
Gideon Guided by God
God guides each of us in different ways; this is especially clear in the case of Gideon. Look at the contrast between the way Gideon responded to God versus Moses (from yesterday's devotion). Moses hid his face from God when God appeared to him in the burning bush. Compare this with Gideon's response to God in verse 13.
And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.
Somehow I think we are more likely to respond to God like Gideon. We approach the God of all God and King of all Kings with accusations! Gideon was angry; where was this God of whom he had been told? Where were the miracles; where was the salvation of God when the Israelites continued to be oppressed by the Midianites?
God ignored Gideon's insolence and simply stated, "Gideon, you are the one I will use to rescue the Israelites from the Midianites." Now God had Gideon's attention! "Wait a minute, who am I that I could face the Midianites? I am from the least of all the tribes of Israel."
Sound familiar? We are so like Gideon! When called by God to serve Him, how often are we filled with a million reasons as to why we could never be of any use to Him. And yet, the Bible tells us that God uses the weak things of the world (that's us) to confound the wise. Oh, you may be wise in the things of the world, intellectually, financially, and authoritatively, but in the eyes of God all of our greatness here on earth is foolishness before Him.
How are you being guided by God? How are you responding? As we read further in the book of Judges we know that Gideon, guided by God, did indeed save the Israelites from the hands of the Midianites.
Pray today that the most important aspect of your life is, or will become, your service to God. When your first priority is correct, everything else will fall in line!
God Bless You,
Friday, December 28, 2007
2And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
3And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
4And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
5And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
6Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
7And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;
8And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Armorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
9Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.
10Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.
Exodus 3:1-10, King James Version
What had happened to Moses? Where was this child who had been saved from death by being placed in a basket lined with pitched and placed in the Nile to be discovered by the daughter of Pharaoh? 40 years has passed since Moses fled from Egypt after killing an Egyptian for beating an Israelite. They were 40 years of oppression for the children of Israel. Had God forgotten them?
In Exodus 3 we find Moses, the shepherd, tending the flocks of his father-in-law on Mount Horeb. The angel of the Lord comes before Moses in a flaming fire; Moses only sees a bush burning and yet not being consumed by the fire.
When Moses turned aside to see this great sight, the Lord called to him out of the burning bush. I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. How did Moses respond? And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
God had not forgotten Moses or the children of Israel. Does it seem that God has forgotten you? Has it been years since you have felt the comforting presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in your life? The years are as nothing to God; God is not affected by time because He is timeless.
God had a greater purpose for Moses than that of attending his father-in-law's sheep. Now was the time!
Through the burning bush, we find Moses guided by God to become the rescuer of the Israelites.
What is God's purpose for your life? Have you been immersed in your life and the things of this world so much that you have forgotten your greater purpose for being here? Go to God; plead with Him to restore you to full fellowship with Him and guide you into a life of service to Him. Moses was called to completely abandon the life he was living and to return to Egypt. However, that is not necessarily the way God guides our lives. Usually He leaves us right where we are and calls us to be a light in the darkness around us.
Moses, guided by God, returned to a life of complete submission and service to God. We know that the life he was called to lead was filled with many burdens and trials, and yet look at the precious relationship he had with God. Christ is all; the joy we share with Him is more precious than anything this world has to offer.
God Bless You,
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Only six short verses of the Bible are devoted to the actual birth of Christ in the small village of Bethlehem among the sheep and the cattle. The entire world remained asleep, totally unaware that God had come to dwell among them so that He might provide their only hope of salvation from the sin of this world.
Joseph and Mary did not live in Bethlehem; they lived in Galilee. Yet, God had prophesied in Micah 5:2 that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem. But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
As a matter of fact, because Jesus grew up in Galilee, many did not believe that He was really the Christ. God moved Caesar Augustus, however, to call for a registration of all the people, causing Joseph and Mary to go to Bethlehem, the city of David, because they were of the house and lineage of David. God is God, and we are not! It was not difficult for Him to move an ungodly ruler to call for a census so that Mary and Joseph would be in Bethlehem when Mary delivered Jesus.
What a lowly birth for the Savior. No trumpets were blown in His honor; no celebrations were held to herald the birth of the King of Kings. He was not born into a wealthy family, but to the lowly household of a carpenter. He did not have a fancy crib awaiting His birth; when He was born Mary laid Him in a manger!
Christ came to save a people for Himself--just ordinary people like you and me. We are never too lowly or too poor to be reached by the saving blood of Christ. All people, rich or poor, have access to Christ in the same way. The only way to gain salvation is by falling before Christ, confessing our sins, accepting His righteous blood as payment for those sins, and claiming Him as our Lord and Master.
Amidst all of the gaiety of friends, families, food, and presents, let us stop and take a moment to consider the humble birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. There was no room for Mary and Joseph in the inn.
Is there room in your heart for the Savior?
God Bless You,
PS All Scriptures are from the King James Version of the Bible.
Friday, December 21, 2007
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
How we love the Christmas story! Yet, I noted today as I looked through a chronological version of the Bible, that in a one-year Bible reading plan, only two days are needed to cover the entire Christmas story. That, of course, does not include prophecies and other references made to the birth of Christ in other passages. I think, perhaps, this is a lesson for us; it is important for us to note the miraculous birth of the baby Jesus, but we must remember that the true Christmas story includes the entire life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Jews were looking for a sign, and yet when that sign appeared they missed it. How could that be? God purposed for the birth of Jesus to be a very private event; only a very few people were aware that it even happened. When the virgin, Mary, conceived only she and Joseph were visited by angels.
An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
I marvel at Joseph's response:
When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
Joseph showed simple faith, simple trust, and simple obedience. It is no wonder that God chose Joseph to be the earthly father and protector of the boy, Jesus.
What a miraculous event! The God of all Gods and Creator of the Universe chose to come down to man. The baby Jesus, was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin, Mary; He was truly God and truly man. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! What a wondrous God we have!
As you ponder the words, Behold a virgin shall conceive, pray that God would give to you the simple faith, simple trust, and simple obedience of Joseph.
God Bless You,
All Scripture passages are from the King James Version of the Bible.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
46 And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,and holy is his name.
As I was reading through Luke 1:26-38 I wondered why God chose Mary out of all of the Israelite women. Then, when I read the "Song of Mary" in verses 46-55 I began to understand the answer. Upon hearing the news that she would bear the Messiah she responded,
“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
We are so familiar with this chapter that the significance of the words of the angel, Gabriel, to Mary lose the impact that they had on Mary. Mary was troubled when Gabriel came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” "What kind of a greeting was this," she wondered.
Gabriel responded with the familiar words,
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Her only question was, How will this be, since I am a virgin?
Gabriel explained that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and the child born to her would be holy - the Son of God.
Though our focus must be upon Jesus and not on Mary, we do note her great faith. It is no wonder that she had favor with God and was chosen to bear the Messiah - Son of God and Son of Man.
This is just a short story tucked away in a few verses of Luke 1, and yet it brought the whole world to its knees. Through this lowly entrance into the world, sprang forth our only Hope and Salvation, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
When God brings events and circumstances into your life that seem to turn your whole world upside down, remember that God has an eternal purpose in everything He does. Pray that you, too, would have the faith that Mary exhibited so that you would respond, Let it be to me according to your word.
God Bless You,
All Scriptures are from the King James Version of the Bible.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
2And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
3And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
4So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.
Genesis 12:1-4, King James Version
People Guided by God
There are people today who spend very little time in the Old Testament because they believe it applies to an earlier time period. However, to do so creates a huge void in our understanding of who God is and how He interacts with us, His people. The Old Testament and the events that occurred during that time provide us with pictures of how God deals with His people today.
In Genesis 12 we read the story of God calling Abram to come out from his country and follow Him to a new land God had promised to him and to his descendants. Sometimes it seems to us that the Patriarchs had life much easier because there was no doubt as to what God was commanding them to do. The truth, however, is that we, by having the entire Word of God before us, are able to see the whole picture from beginning to end.
Just as Abram was a patriarch who responded obediently when guided by God, so too should we Christians today find ourselves to be a people guided by God. Be assured that though God may not appear before you as He did to Abraham, He just as assuredly guides your Christian walk today.
Pray that by the grace of God you will follow the guidance of God through prayer and Bible study, knowing that God will continually guide you and sanctify you until that time when you meet Him face to face.
God Bless You,
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
14For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
15And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
16But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
Hebrews 11:13, King James Version
They Seek a Country
Tucked right in the middle of Hebrews 11 are these four verses; I chose to end the study of Hebrews 11 with them because they really express the theme of the entire chapter. Which country do you seek?
I often think of this saying:
He is so heavenly minded that he is of no earthly good.
Is that really possible? What does it mean to be of earthly good? The only good on this earth is the goodness of God in providing a Redeemer who paid the most costly price possible that He might gain a people for Himself. Therefore, the only good you can do for this earth, as a Christian, is to proclaim the name of Christ in all of your thoughts, your words, and your deeds.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. This is so profoundly simple that we miss it!
Who is the object of our faith? Christ. What do we truly seek? A better country; a perfect world. God is preparing a world for us that will not be tarnished in any way by the sin which has polluted this world. Even the plants and animals here are affected by the sin of man. That will not be so in the new earth.
Pray today that you will not live as though this world is all there is, but rather that you will seek a better country!
God Bless You,
Saturday, December 01, 2007
16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. 20 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
Romans 4:13-25, King James Version
What is the faith of faith? Why does it matter to us in the 21st century?
The example shown above is that of Abraham having faith that God would give him a son, even though he had reached the age of 100, and Sarah, his wife, at 90 was past the age of child bearing. We are told that Abraham did not weaken in his faith, no distrust made him waiver concerning the promise of God, and being convinced that God would do as He promised, he continually gave glory to God. Verse 22 continues, That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.
Though Abraham's faith was remarkable, it is not the only reason that Paul used this example in Romans 4. The missionary, Paul, was explaining the true meaning of faith to the unbelievers in Rome. It is not those who obey the Law of God perfectly who are granted salvation because no one (except Christ) can keep the Law perfectly.
That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring [all believers] . . . to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.
Here is the key to this passage, But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
There it is, the faith of faith, which is simple and yet profound! What does it take to become a Christian? Faith! Faith in Christ who died for our sins and was raised by God for our justification.
If it is that simple, why are there so few Christians in the world? The answer is faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, But without faith it is impossible to please him [God]. Those without faith are blind; seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear.
Pray today that God would grant to you the faith of faith.
God Bless You,