Tag: Abraham

God is faithful!

Scripture reading for November 19th: Romans 4-5

Faith always has an object and that object is God!  God alone is trustworthy and faithful to His word.  If He said it, He will do it!  He has the power to do whatever He says He will and the character of never lying!  Paul writes to us today about Abraham and Sarah and what they discovered in their journey with God.

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it has been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”  “Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead–since he was about a hundred years old–and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.  Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what He had promised. This is why ‘it was credited to him as righteousness.'” Romans 4:18-22

Sometimes things look impossible to the natural eye.  When Abraham and Sara left their home to go to Canaan, God told them that He would give them offspring.  (Genesis 15:4-6)  In fact, their offspring would number more than the stars in the sky!  Abraham believed God and it was counted as righteousness!

Time passed and they tried to produce the offspring.  Sarah gave Abraham her maid and she conceived a son, Ishmael.  They thought that perhaps this child was the promised seed, but God visited them again and told them that in their old age that they would have a son from their own bodies!  This seemed so impossible that Sarah, listening to the angelic visitor, laughed out loud!  (Genesis 18:10-15)  However, God restored their bodies and they had the child, Isaac, whose name means “laughter’!

Faith is not difficult.  It is simply coming to the point of being fully persuaded that God is faithful!  What He has promised, He will bring to pass!  Your faith is counted as righteousness!  How marvelous is the grace of our amazing God!

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The Son of God, Son of David!

Scripture reading for October 6th: Matthew 1-4

Four hundred years of silence had passed and God spoke again!  He began fulfilling a number of prophesies that He gave over the years concerning His Son.  A virgin, named Mary, gave birth to a son.  (Matthew 1:22-23)  This virgin and her betrothed husband, Joseph, were descendants of King David and their genealogy was traced back to Abraham.  (Matthew 1:1-16)  This “Son” was born in Bethlehem, fulfilling what the prophet Micah had predicted nearly 700 years earlier.  (Matthew 2:6)

Gentile wise men came to worship Him who was born “King of the Jews.”  They came to Judea and visited King Herod.  Herod became jealous and ordered the destruction of all boys 2 years and younger.  God had already intervened and warned Joseph and Mary to depart for Egypt.  This fulfilled two other prophesies about Rachel weeping for her children and God calling His Son out of Egypt.  (Matthew 2:15-18)  When Joseph and Mary returned to Israel after Herod’s threat had passed, they settled in Nazareth.  Jesus was called a “Nazarene” in fulfillment of Scripture!

The Book of Malachi ended with a promise from God that He would send Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord.  (Malachi 4:5-6)  Elijah’s message would turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers. Matthew recorded the ministry of John the Baptist preaching in the Desert of Judea and calling God’s people to repentance and water baptism.  John was Jesus’ cousin and had a special call from God to prepare the way for His Son. (Matthew 3:1-3)  This also fulfilled a prophesy given by Isaiah! (Isaiah 40:3)

John the Baptist spoke plainly to the religious leaders who came to ridicule him.  He warned them that one was coming who would not just baptize with water, but with the Holy Spirit and fire!  (Matthew 3:7-11)  As Jesus was baptized by John, many witnessed an amazing confirmation of Jesus Christ the Son of God!    “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went out of the water.  At that moment heaven opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on Him.  And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.”Matthew 3:16-17

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Abraham, Sarah, and Ismael!

January 7th Scripture Reading:  Genesis 15-17

Sarai suggested to Abram that he have a child by her maid, Hagar, to fulfill God’s promise of offspring since she was still barren.  A child resulted and trouble ensued!  Hagar felt superior and Sarai was  jealous.  The child, Ishmael, became a source of trouble in the house and was prophesied to be one who would cause trouble (Genesis 16:12).  In fact, we are today experiencing trouble in many areas of our world from Ismael’s offspring!

Genesis 17 recorded another visit by God to Abram and Sarai.  Abram was now 99 years old and Sarai was 90.  God confirmed His promise to them through a covenant.  Covenant partners of that time exchanged names.   God’s covenant name was “YHWH”, Hebrew letters that were pronounced only with a drawn out “h” sound.  God changed Abram to “Abraham” and Sarai to “Sarah”, adding part of His name to theirs.  Abram meant “Exalted Father” while Abraham meant “Father of a multitude”.  Sarai’s new name meant “Princess”.  God took Abraham’s name too! He became know as the “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”.  God also gave them a physical sign of the covenant: circumcision.  This mark on the male organ carrying the “seed”, would remind Abraham of God’s promise and mark his offspring.

Abraham is known as the father of faith because he believed God and God credited him with being righteous!  (Genesis 15:6)  We are made right with God exactly the same way!  By faith in Jesus we are credited with righteousness.  We get the Name of Jesus and the Holy Spirit who circumcises our hearts and marks us as belonging to God.  God writes our name in the Book of Life and we have an eternal inheritance in Him!

“Having believed, you were marked in Him (Christ) with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession, to the praise of His Glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14

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Showing faith by deeds!

Scripture reading for November 19th: James 2:13-3:18

James was writing to counter a teaching about faith that emphasized believing but not repentance.    Today, many have been told that all they need to do is believe in Jesus and say a sinner’s prayer and they are saved.  Many have done this but never have any further fruit of faith demonstrated in their lives.   They never go to church, pray, read their Bibles, or help the poor and needy.   James, the Apostle and half-brother of Jesus, doesn’t come against salvation through faith alone.  He simply states that true faith produces corresponding actions and fruit that demonstrates our true converted state.

“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Can such a faith save him?  Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes or daily food.  If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:14-17)  James uses a practical example of a common need in the body of Christ.  Who would say that a simple declaration of wishing a needy brother or sister well would demonstrate a true heart of Christ’s compassion?  If we have means to help, we would help this person practically.  Likewise, if we have faith in God’s grace to us, we will have deeds reflecting our faith.

James goes on to cite Abraham as another example of faith in God that was demonstrated by corresponding action.  Abraham was told by God to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, on a mountain God would show him.  Abraham had been told that through this son, all nations of the earth would be blessed.  (Genesis 12:3)  Abraham believed God and obeyed him and God credited his faith demonstrated in this way as righteousness.  (James 2:23)

James final example was the prostitute Rahab, who because of a revelation of God’s will, acted to hide the spies and obtained God’s approval.  God is always looking for those who believe Him and obey His word and revelation to them.  True faith always produces actions.  “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” (James 2:26)

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Faith’s victories!

Scripture reading for November 13th: Hebrews 11:17-31

Faith in God’s word causes us to be winners in life and even death!  In fact, it is impossible to lose when we live by faith.  He watches over His word to make sure it comes to pass!  Reading about these great men and women of God who believed and acted on God’s word should inspire us to live even more passionately by faith!

Abraham obeyed God when he was told by God to take his only son, Isaac, and offer him as a sacrifice.  Abraham had been told by God that it would be through his offspring that the promises made to him would be fulfilled.  “Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.” (Hebrews 11:19)   God was faithful to His word, and provided the sacrifice in place of Isaac.  It was through Isaac that the promised seed of Abraham, Jesus Christ, eventually came.

Moses was another hero recorded in Scripture who had to live by his faith.  Moses was aware of God’s word about him given to his parents.  He chose to believe God about his mission of delivering God’s people instead of enjoying the passing pleasures of sin in Egypt.  (Hebrews 11:24-28)  He refused the treasures of Egypt while looking for the reward God promised.  By faith he led the people of Israel out of Egypt and persevered as if he could see the invisible God.  He offered the passover lamb, along with others of faith and was spared from the destroying angel!  Faith lead the nation to victory and freedom!

Many others also lived by faith and obtained God’s smile of approval!  Joshua led the nation in circling the walls of Jericho and saw them fall by God’s power.  Rahab, the prostitute, hid the spies knowing God’s word and believing Him.  Gideon, Samson, Barak, David and Samuel all led the nation in victory over their enemies by following God’s infallible word!

“Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection.” (Hebrews 11:35b)  Hebrews records that faith sometimes looked to the world as failure.  Some chose to suffer rather than deny their faith or violate God’s word.  They looked with eyes of faith for the reward God promised.  All these ancients died in faith, patiently looking to God for the promise.  What an inspiration for us!

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Commended for Faith!

Scripture reading for November 12th: Hebrews 11:1-16

When we believe on Jesus Christ, we join a select group of individuals who by faith pleased God and laid hold of the promise of being close to Him for eternity.  There is no other way to please God than to live by faith in His word!

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” (Hebrews 11:1-3)  Faith brings understanding of our creation, purpose and the fall into sin.  When we read God’s word the light of truth helps us believe and understand today’s problems.

We also look back at the record of those that came before us and see the outcome of their faith.  The writer of Hebrews calls them the ‘ancients’.  This record begins with Abel offering a better sacrifice than his brother Cain.  Abel obeyed God’s revelation of a blood sacrifice for approaching Him.(Genesis 4:3-8)   Cain did not believe.  Abel was commended by God as a righteous man and is still speaking to us today through his record in Scripture. (Hebrews 11:4)  Cain was mastered by the sin of unbelief and killed his righteous brother.  He lost God’s blessing.

Enoch so pleased God that he escaped death by his faith-motivated actions.  (Hebrews 11:5)  Enoch walked with God and was a prophet to his generation concerning God’s coming judgment.  (Jude 14-15)  God simply took him to heaven directly as an example for us of the reward of faith-filled living!  (1st Corinthians 10:11)

Noah was warned by God of a coming destructive judgment of the world by water.  Because he believed God, he built the ark according to God’s direction.  He and his family were saved out of all living on the earth as a testimony of the reward of faith.  (Hebrews 11:7)

Abraham heard God’s word instructing him to leave his country  and go to the land God would show him.  Abraham packed up his family and set out, trusting God’s word.  He ended up living in a tent in the land of promise, trusting that God was faithful.  It is recorded that Abraham was looking for a city built by God!  (Hebrews 11:10)  Faith pleased God and this record encourages us today.

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Faith credit in God’s Bank!

Scripture reading for July 17th: Romans 4:1-13

“What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter?  If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about–but not before God.  What does the Scripture say?  “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”” (Romans 4:1-3)   (Genesis 15:6)  Paul began to explain to the recipients of his letter that Abraham was not justified by works of the law.  He lived over 400 years before Moses and God simply credited righteous to Abraham for his faith.  When someone works, they earn wages that are not a gift but what is due them.  God owed Abraham nothing and Abraham did nothing to get the credit except believe!

Paul then cited David who said the same thing in Psalm 32:1-2.  “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.” Many commentators think that David wrote this Psalm to explain the righteousness that was granted to him in forgiving his sin against God through the incident with Bathsheba.  When he confessed his sin, God forgave him and covered his transgression.  It was a gift and the wages that were due David through the law was death!  David was thankful for the faith credit!

Abraham received the promise that he would be heir of the world and through his offspring all nations on the earth would be blessed.  Abraham had no children at the time and God told him to look at the stars and count them.  His offspring would be as numerous as the stars!  (Genesis 15:5)  It was this promise that Abraham believed.

You might say that our simple trust in God’s promises through Abraham’s offspring–Jesus Christ, guarantees our inheritance as well.  It is our faith in Jesus Christ that causes us to be born again in to the family of God.   It is through our faith that God credits righteousness to us as well.  (2nd Corinthians 5:21)  The righteous inherit the promises!   Isn’t it wonderful to have faith credits deposited in our heavenly account!   Thieves won’t break in and steal it.  We have true riches which we will enjoy for eternity!  Praise the Lord for His glorious grace!

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The beautiful land of Canaan!

Scripture Reading for February 24: Deuteronomy 8-11

In 1995, my son and I went to Israel and Egypt on a three week study tour.  In Egypt we visited the Great Pyramid, the Sphinx and traced the route of the Exodus.  The land of Egypt was primarily desert and dry rocky mountains until we got to the Nile River where water and irrigation made some green areas and lush groves of tropical plants.  The land was fairly flat and sandy.  Israel, on the other hand was varied in topography and had many different areas of climate and vegetation.  The Jezreel valley was a rich agricultural region with big farms. The vineyard country was terraced and had trees and vines.  The area around the Sea of Galilee was lush and had banana and pineapples growing.  There were herds of cattle and sheep in the Golan Heights.  Shepherds drove their flocks of goats and sheep and camped in tents in the Negev desert.  It was a varied land full of milk (goats and cattle) and honey (bees pollinating vines and flowers).

In our reading today, Moses describes the land that they are going to.  I thought it was interesting to read Deuteronomy 11:8-12 in light of my own journey to both places. It is a land flowing with milk and honey! (vs.9)   It’s a land of hills and valleys! (vs. 10) God sends the rain of heaven on Israel where in Egypt,  the land had to be irrigated! (vs. 11) In Canaan, God cares for the land and His eyes are upon it to bless His people! (vs.12)

As my son and I traveled through that land, God’s presence was evident to us.  It was a special land, although it is not remarkable or extraordinary.  God’s presence and His promises make it special!  God’s promises to Israel and His faithfulness to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob stand as a testimony to all believers.  Four thousand years after Abraham, his descendants are still in that land and are taking possession of it!  They have defeated armies more numerous and stronger, because God was with them.  (Deuteronomy 11:23,25)  They are still being gathered from the nations and settling in that land after years of being scattered!  It is a land that God cares for and His eyes are upon it continually!  Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!  A blessing is promised those who bless Israel!  (Genesis 12:3)

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Abraham, Sarah, and Ishmael

Scripture reading for January 6th: Genesis 15-17

A great deal has happened in the lives of Abram and Sarai in the last three chapters.  They have been to Egypt and back. They have rescued Lot from invaders.  They gave the first tithes to Melchizedek, an unusual man who was a king of Salem (Jerusalem) and a priest of “The Most High God”.

Next, since she was still barren Sarai suggested to Abram that he have a child by her maid Hagar in order to fulfill God’s promise.  Hagar bore him a son and now felt superior.  Sarai became  jealous and mistreated her.  The child Ishmael, became a source of trouble in the house. (Genesis 16:12).  (In fact, we are today experiencing trouble in the Middle East and a war on terror from Ismael’s offspring!)

Genesis 17 recorded another visit by God to Abram and Sarai.  Abram was then 99 years old and Sarai was 90.  God confirmed His promise to them by covenant.  Part of a covenant is a change of names.  Abram means “Exalted Father” and Abraham meant “Father of a multitude”.  Sarah’s new name meant “Princess”.  God took Abraham’s name too!  He became know as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  God also gave them a physical sign of the covenant, circumcision.  This mark in the male organ carrying the “seed”, would remind Abraham of God’s promise and mark his offspring as special.  This sign also helped keep the line pure and free from venereal disease, thus protecting the offspring.

Faith simply says “yes” to God and obeys!  Abraham is known as the father of faith because he believed God and God credited him with being righteous!  (Genesis 15:6)  We are made right with God exactly the same way!  By faith in Jesus we are credited with righteousness too.  Our sign of covenant is that we get the Name of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, who circumcises our hearts and marks us as belonging to God.  God writes our name in the Book of Life and we have an eternal inheritance in Him!  We are truly blessed through Abraham and Sarah and their seed, Jesus Christ!

“Having believed, you were marked in Him (Christ) with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession, to the praise of His Glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14

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The Sound of Laughter

Scripture reading for January 7th: Genesis 15-17

Some people think that God’s people can’t be happy because they live in fear of the Lord.  The kind of fear that we have is reverence for God’s person, power, and mercy.  This fear leads to true joy and a life of laughter!  God Himself likes to laugh!  Psalm 2:4 pictures God laughing–at those who would reject His love and law!  Today we get in on a positive laugh that God had with Abram and Sarai after they were old and beyond human possibility of child bearing.

When Abram was 99 years old and Sarai was 90, they were again visited by God.  God confirmed the covenant that He had made earlier with Abram.  He changed their names to Abraham: father of nations, and Sarah: a princess. He promised them fruitfulness, abundant offspring and a relationship with them and their many descendants.  God would be their God and they would be His people in everlasting covenant.  He told them that they must circumcise every male child as a sign of this covenant.  (Genesis 17:10-14)  Abraham, himself was to be circumcised.

Then came the shocker, Abraham was told that his wife, Sarah, would have a son.  Abraham fell face down in reverence for the Lord, but laughed as he considered their ages. He wondered to himself how this could be.  He answered the Lord saying, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing.” (Genesis 17:18)  The Lord reaffirmed that Sarah would have a son and told Abraham that his name would be Isaac.  This name actually means “the sound of laughter”!  The joke would be on them and they would laugh in their old age with God’s promised child reminding them each time they said his name!

God has a sense of humor.  He knows how to best accomplish His purposes.  He desires us to trust Him and believe His promises.  Physical limitations and natural abilities never limit God.  As we read these ancient stories, we learn to trust God and believe that we can laugh, knowing that He will bring His promises to pass.  Issac had Jacob and Esau.  Jacob had twelve sons who became the nation of Israel.  Abraham’s son Ishmael multiplied and formed nations as well.  God’s word is true and is still producing!  Let laughter mark your walk of faith today!

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