Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Abraham’

Social Responsibility

The burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.

God is jealous, and the Lord revengeth; the Lord revengeth, and is furious; the Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.

The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.

He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth.

The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein.

Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him.  ~~  Nahum 1:1-6 (KJV)

“The Lord is slow to anger and great in power.” One reason the Lord is slow to anger is His great love for mankind. He is not willing that any should perish, so He withholds His anger until it is obvious that the sinner or the sinful nation is not about to repent.

Remember His conversation with Abraham over Sodom. He would have withheld His anger with Sodom had there been but a few righteous men in the city. There was, in fact, only Lot. And He made a way for Lot to escape.

In Jonathan Edward’s famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, we read “The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given, and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course, when once it is let loose. “

Personally, I tremble for our nation. The abominations and desecrations we tolerate in the name of political correctness have earned us the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. God is withholding his anger, I believe, because of the remnant of the righteous who still are here and still praying for the nation.

Social responsibility would have every Christian evangelizing and bringing people to God.

In a Facebook conversation regarding how to interact with the world on that score, one participant asked why we were not more vocal in telling people. There were several responses, but mine was as follows:

Some times we remain silent because there has been no question asked.

We are told to be ready with the answer when someone asks about the hope that is within us.

I try to speak only when the Spirit prompts me that the hearer is ready to hear. Otherwise, we may simply be inoculating them from the truth.

Our first line of attack must be prayer. Then we can evangelize when the Spirit prompts us.

Let us resolve to be the prayer buffer between our nation and the hands of an angry God until we can turn this nation back to its roots in faith.

Father, God,

While we are Your children, never let us for get that we have a responsibility to bring all men unto You. Help us to see ways to woo the lost for Your kingdom so that Your righteous anger will be quenched.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

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God With Us

And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran.

And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.

And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.

And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;

And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.

And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.

And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.

And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.

And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.

And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,

So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God:

And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.  ~~  Genesis 28:10-22

AARRGGHH!! Don’t we ever learn?

The verses leading up to this passage are full of egos, self-seeking and deceptions. Deceit has had serious consequences in the past and will again in this instance.

However – and this is a big however — when Jacob obeys his father’s directive to go to Paddan Aram to seek a wife, he sets his feet on a righteous path once again. And he is rewarded by this dream and promise from God.

“Surely the Lord is in this place.”

Whether we are aware of it or not, God is with us. Day in and day out, He stands with us. It is our disobedience that builds a wall between Him and us. It’s our wall. It is built brick by brick of little rejections of His call upon our lives.

Do you notice? God’s promise to Jacob is not predicated upon his apology for his deceptions. It carries no contingencies. It is full, complete, absolute.

God knows and we are learning that every action carries within itself the seed of its own reward or punishment. That is called consequences.

But our God is omnipresent – present everywhere at once. With us, beside us, within us if we let Him be.

We are into the season of advent. We will be singing “O come, O come, Immanuel.” It’s a nice song and one of my personal favorites. But it’s redundant. He has already come. He is with us. Let us rejoice in His presence.

Father, God,
Help us to be ever mindful of Your presence with us. Teach us to rely on You and only You at every moment.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen

Do It God’s Way

Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:

And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

So 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.

And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.

And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.

And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him. ~~ Genesis 12:1-7

Abram was seventy-five years old when God told him to leave his homeland. In verse two of this reading He says “I will make of you a great nation.” And then again in verse seven he says “To your offspring I will give this land.” In these verses, God has twice said Abram would have children.

Abram and Sarai waited. It seemed like they waited forever. Years later, Abram complained to the Lord that he has only Eliezer of Damascus, his steward, as an heir. But the Lord assured Abram that his descendants will be as numerous as the sand on the seashore or the stars in the sky. God made a covenant with Abram. (Genesis Chapter 15.)

Ten years passed, and Sarai could hear her biological clock ticking. She knew that she was growing too old for bearing children. She decided to take matters into her own hands and sent Abram in to Hagar to conceive a child for her. In a way, Hagar was the original surrogate mother. At least, that was what Sarai intended. But it didn’t work that way.

Sarai was jealous of Hagar and mistreated her. Hagar ran away, only to be found of the Lord and told to come back into her servitude. But the Lord also assured her that her son would have many descendants. He told her to name the child “God Hears” – Ishmael. (Genesis 16)

The prophecy concerning Ishmael in verse twelve, however, forecasts an on-going feud between Ishmael’s line and Isaac’s line. Look at the middle east today. We have the sons of Ishmael and the sons of Isaac in constant conflict.

So let’s play a game of “what if.” What if Sarai had not become impatient, Hagar had not become pregnant, and Ishmael had never been born. Would the middle east be peaceful today? We’ll never know.

Whenever we try to do God’s will our own way, it results in a muddle. God can redeem our messes, but it is never as good as what He had planned originally. It all comes back to the arrogance of the intellect. We think we know how to help God out. We don’t.

Our function is to believe His word and obey His commands. We are to do a thing only if God says so, not because we think it’s the way to do it.

Father, God,

Help us to remember your wisdom is infinite and our minds are puny in comparison. Remind us that You do not need our assistance, only our faith and obedience.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

 

Click the link on Hagar above for a new Bible study about the God Who Sees Me.

The Lord Will Provide

And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? 

And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. ~~ Genesis 22:7-8 (KJV)

God not only sees everything, but He also provides. He provides what we need, not necessarily what we want.

So what do we need?  We need food and clothing and shelter and health in order to live as we want. But there are some of us who go without one or another of these things. Some people go hungry. Some barely have rags to cover themselves. Others live on the streets or in cars or in homeless shelters. Still others are in poor health for one reason or another.

Does this mean that God doesn’t provide? No.

He provided the ram for Abraham’s offering. He provided water for Hagar in the wilderness. And He will provide for us as well.

Most importantly, He provided the blood of Jesus for our salvation. He sent the Holy Spirit for our sanctification. And He provides His love which surrounds us eternally.

These are free gifts to us from His love for us – His love for each of us individually.

And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen. ~~ Genesis 22:13-14

Jehovah Jireh, the Lord will provide. You will notice that Abraham went about his business, expecting the Lord to provide the sacrifice. The Lord had given him Isaac. If the Lord wanted Isaac back, Abraham was going to obey God.

But God had promised Abraham that He would make Isaac a great nation. If Isaac were dead, that could not be. Abraham didn’t know how God would keep the promise, but he knew God cannot lie.

He believed that God would provide, and God did provide. He didn’t need to know how God would provide. He simply believed and spoke his belief to his son.

In the face of evidence to the contrary, can we believe that God keeps His promises? How strong is our faith in God’s love for us? How strong is our love for God? How hungry is our heart for His presence?

The only thing we need is God’s presence in our lives. All else will follow.

Paul has it right:

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. ~~ Philippians 4:10-12

Whether life is bountiful or parsimonious, we have the riches of God’s presence. That is all we really need. All else is superfluous.

Father, God,

Help us to know the generosity of Your presence at all times. Keep our hearts and minds focused on You, not on the trappings of this world. Grant us a greater sensitivity to Your presence and Your provision for our lives.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen

 

Family Trees

Focus verses: Matthew 1:1-17

Sometimes scripture seems obsessed with genealogies. In Genesis, chapter ten and chapter eleven are mainly what I used to call “the begats” They trace the lineage of who fathered whom. But I never saw a purpose in it.

But here Matthew traces the lineage of Joseph back to Abraham. Legally Joseph was Jesus’ father on earth. However, Joseph was only his adopted father. There is no blood lineage between them.

I believe this family tree is here to establish that Jesus is a son of David legally. Therefore He is eligible to be the Messiah.

If we look in the book of Luke, we find a different lineage. It is confusing that it traces in the opposite direction of Matthew’s genealogy. And it doesn’t list the same people. Heli is assumed to be the father of Mary and therefore Joesph’s father-in-law. And this lineage doesn’t stop with Abraham, but goes all the way back to Adam and lists him as the son of God.

So the list in Matthew establishes Jesus’ legal claim to being the Messiah. But the list in Luke takes it back to creation – where we see Him first – as the active Word establishing the universe.

Put to the test, God dots all the i’s and crosses all the t’s. No detail is too small for His attention. And no issue is too big for His solution.

Father, God,

Thank You for being who You are. Your gift of Jesus to redeem the world amazes and awes us. Teach us to take care of the smallest detail so that the big picture is never lost due to a needless distraction. We are so grateful to be Your children.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Lest We Believe We Are Privileged

Focus verses: II Kings 23:25-27
Background: II Chronicles 33:18-25

The descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob comprised the chosen people of God. The two separate kingdoms, Israel in the north and Judah in the south, were essentially all cousins – several times removed, but still cousins.

These are the people whose destruction is documented in our focus verses. God is speaking His intention to remove them from His presence. Oy vey!

If God will separate His presence from His chosen people simply because of their faithlessness and bad behavior, how much more will He remove Himself from those of us who are merely “grafted in” when we are faithless and idolatrous?

Even the godly character of King Josiah was not enough to quench the smoldering anger of the Lord against Judah. This is a case of the sins of the father being visited on the sons and the grandsons for generations. Manasseh was the king who inflamed the Lord’s anger. Josiah was his grandson. The story is not yet completed.

We sit in a nation that has been favored by the Lord for two hundred years and more. But we persist in doing what is evil in the sight of God. We put things ahead of God in idolatry. We comfort ourselves with euphemisms like “freedom of choice” and “alternate lifestyle” when what we are naming is sin. Calling stink weed a rose will not make it smell any sweeter.

Even were we to have a Josiah in our midst, the anger of the Lord is surely smoldering against us as we speak. Our knees should be calloused in prayer and our voices should be heard in this wilderness of sin, calling people to repentance and to the Lord.

Father, God,

Stay Your anger a little longer. Give us the opportunity to become more faithful to You, more vocal in Your causes, more winning in our ways, so that we may bring our nation back to the fold of Your love.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

God’s Wrath

Focus verses: Nahum 1:1-6

“The Lord is slow to anger and great in power.” One reason the Lord is slow to anger is His great love for mankind. He is not willing that any should perish, so He withholds His anger until it is obvious that the sinner or the sinful nation is not about to repent.

Remember His conversation with Abraham over Sodom. He would have withheld His anger with Sodom had there been but a few righteous men in the city. There was, in fact, only Lot. And He made a way for Lot to escape.

In Jonathan Edward’s famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, we read “The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given, and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course, when once it is let loose. “

Personally, I tremble for our nation. The abominations and desecrations we tolerate in the name of political correctness have earned us the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. God is withholding his anger, I believe, because of the remnant of the righteous who still are here and still praying for the nation.

Social responsibility would have every Christian evangelizing and bringing people to God. Let us resolve to be the buffer between our nation and the hands of an angry God until we can turn this nation back to its roots in faith.

Father, God,

While we are Your children, never let us for get that we have a responsibility to bring all men unto You. Help us to see ways to woo the lost for Your kingdom so that Your righteous anger will be quenched.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.