Friday, September 22, 2017

The Fate of All

And when Bela died, Jobab the son of Zerah of Bozra reigned in his place.” Genesis 36:33 NKJV
This is probably not the most commonly memorized verse in Scripture, but maybe it should become one of them. It contains both an absolute certainty and a very great probability. First, Bela died. The Bible says that “it is appointed on to man once to die.” In Genesis 36 we find that death hits in about every other verse starting in verse 33 to verse 43. Everyone dies. That is a certainty. For all the plans that we make, we are not permanent. For the plans we even make for tomorrow we can have no certainty of fulfilling. Jesus said of the rich man, “thou fool, tonight thy soul will be required of thee.” Death is certain, our plans are not. So, we must know the second half of the verse about death, “it is appointed on to man once to die and after that the judgment.” That is certain.
The probability in this verse is that what we have planned for our children’s children may very well not come to pass. Notice that Bela’s son did not reign after him. Another man did and after him another man from another place and family reigned after him. What we store up on this earth has no guarantee that it will go to the ones we hoped it would. The house we built will be occupied by another. The business we built will be ruined by another. The money we saved will be squandered by another. Therefore Jesus says, “Lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven where the thief does not break in to steal nor the moth nor the rust will destroy.” The living we do in this life needs to be more eternally directed than we usually make it. It is a lesson from Genesis that we should learn well and apply faithfully.
Dear Father, You have given me today to know you and prepare for eternity with my soul and my goods. Help me to faithfully do so with both. Amen.


  The Friday Benediction
Until Monday, my friends, may the good God envelop you with His grace; may you prove the common confession of faith, “I believe in the holy Christian church and in the fellowship of the saints”, and may you be enriched with joy and hope as you exercise that confession this weekend.  Amen


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Thursday, September 21, 2017

God's Restoration Plan

And {if you} shall return unto the LORD thy God, and shall obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day . . .  that then the LORD thy God will have compassion upon thee.” Deut 30:2-3 KJV
What do I consider to be one of the greatest promises of Scripture – repentance and forgiveness? John wrote, “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” In Genesis, right after the slaughter of the Shechemites, God tells Jacob to return to Bethel and dwell there. Bethel was the spot where God had openly revealed Himself to Jacob some twenty-five years earlier as he fled from Esau. Now, after all the wandering and sin, highlighted by the recent sin as Shechem, God said to Jacob, “Return to Bethel.”
What does this mean? It means that there is plenteous mercy and forgiveness with the Lord. God is always calling His people to return to the place of rest in God. He is calling them to put away the idols of this world, to come in repentance and be restored by the grace of our caring God. Some churches have a part of the service where the pastor declares the absolution of God for the confessed sins of the people. The pastor is telling the people clearly what God has done for them – forgiven them. What greater words can we hear than that we have been forgiven? This is the call of God to Jacob, “Arise, and go to Bethel. There I will meet with you and accept you and let you know that I am your God and that you are My child.” Arise today, friends, and go to Bethel and feel the warm cleansing from the blood of our blessed Savior.
Dear Father, Thank You that we are invited to come to You for cleansing for our sins and not just to hear the anger of Your righteous judgment. Amen.


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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

God Will Take Care of It

Avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” Romans 12:19 KJV
When Jesus told His followers to turn the other cheek, what do you suppose He meant? Too often today we don’t even quote that verse. The church militant has begun to think in terms of human instead of divine action. Is our militancy supposed to be against flesh and blood or against principalities and powers of this earthly darkness? If someone who lives under the forces of darkness were to insult my wife, am I supposed to punch him in the nose? Is that militant Christianity? If someone butchers babies in a clinic am I supposed to bomb that clinic or stalk that doctor and kill them? Is that militant Christianity?
This is not a random question. In Genesis 34 we find that Israel’s daughter, Dinah, has been raped by the prince of Shechem. Dinah was the seventh child of Leah and was probably only ten to twelve years old at this time. Her brothers, Simeon and Levi, conspired to get even, or take vengeance, on the people of Shechem and ultimately killed all the males in the city. Forty years later when Jacob is prophesying about the future of his children he had this to say about Simeon and Levi, “They are instruments of cruelty and my soul shall not enter their council nor my honor be united with them.” Since he was a prophet his words were uttered by the Holy Spirit and not just his own views. God was not happy that Dinah’s brothers took vengeance. God has called us to a walk that is hard to follow when our emotions get involved. But even then He is God and wants us to obey Him and glorify Him. That is the true church militant.

Dear Father, Help me remember You when I most want to react as me. Amen.


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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Wrestling With God

Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day.” Genesis 32:24
Have you ever or are you now facing a profound crisis? First, be not ashamed at having a profound crisis as if God has abandoned you. Jesus said, “In this world you shall have tribulation.” It is common to all men and not one from which Christians are immune. All who preach that believers are supposed to be successful and prosperous are preaching a false doctrine. But now that you are in crisis, what do you do? This was Jacob’s problem. He had stolen his brother’s blessing and his brother has sworn revenge. Now his brother was coming to meet him and he had an army of 400 men with him. That was a crisis.
After sending everyone else away Jacob stayed alone by the brook Jabok. There he was met by a Man. They wrestled all night. That is a long time to be engaged in mortal combat. All night was not a “Now I lay me down to sleep prayer”. All night was the “effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man. Does a crisis bring us to effectual fervent prayer or to ineffectual belly-aching? Does it bring us to seek God’s blessing or convince us that God doesn’t care? When morning came the Man said to Jacob, “Your name shall be called Israel, for you have struggled with God and prevailed.” With that the Man blessed him and sent him on his way. Beloved, do we wrestle with God or complain to God? Do we believe He will hear an effectual fervent prayer, or do we doubt His care? Jacob wrestled and was blessed.
Dear Father, You have given us such great promises through prayer that we often ignore. Please renew our prayer life that we might find ourselves greatly renewed in You. Amen.


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Monday, September 18, 2017

Christ's Promises are Certain

Yet your father has deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me.” Genesis 31:7
The setting for this verse is important. Jacob had cheated his brother from his birthright and had stolen his brother’s blessing. As a consequence he had been exiled from the presence of Isaac, from whom the promises of God would descend, and cast into a pagan land and married pagan wives from a pagan family. He was a lousy husband. There is not much to commend Jacob to anyone. What he does have in his favor is that he is a child of God’s promise. From an earthly perspective his abundant sins would seem to exclude him from God’s care.  But God never forgot Jacob.
Way back in Genesis 28, which is twenty years before Genesis 31, God had said to Jacob, “The land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.” At that point Jacob made a vow to God. From that occasion until Genesis 31 we never hear the name of God from Jacob’s lips. What Jacob forgot, however, God remembered. Notice that God did not pad Jacob’s life with joy and happiness for those twenty years, but He did protect him. More than that, God fulfilled the promise He had made to Jacob twenty years before. As it says in II Corinthians 2, “All the promises of God in Him are yea and amen.” “Him” in this verse is Jesus Christ who was the promised descendant of Jacob. In Christ all the promises of God to us are certain.
Dear Father, Help us not to forget You as Jacob did, but to also always remember that all Your promises are sure in Jesus Christ. Amen.


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Friday, September 15, 2017

There are more wages to sin than death.


The wages of sin . . .” Romans 6:23 KJV
We all know the rest of our lead verse today, “The wages of sin is death.” But there are other wages of sin long before death. Genesis teaches us about consequences for the actions of our life and the decisions we make. Adam and Eve decided to disobey God. They didn’t die physically at that point, but they did die spiritually. The process of physical death began and that contains all the maladies of life that accompany aging. They also were expelled from their home and forced to live a hard life of hard work and great frustration. That mankind is a slow learner is seen in the account of Jacob and Esau.
Esau had already sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of stew. But Jacob was not content. Esau still had the promise of their father Abraham waiting for him. Rebecca, their mother, wanted that blessing for Jacob instead so she conspired with him to trick Abraham into giving it to Jacob instead of Esau. What was the result? There was a fractured family. Esau wanted to kill Jacob. Jacob had to flee from Esau and that separated him from his mother who lost her most loved son. Jacob lived far away for twenty years and was cheated and tricked by his father-in-law multiple times. He worked day and night and ended up with an unhappy home. Oh, yes, there are wages of sin long before death. But, thanks be to God, there is also forgiveness when we come in confession and repentance to the cross of Christ.

Dear Father, Thank You for the clear teachings that your ways are best and my ways will end in disaster. Forgive me for choosing my selfish way and guide me in Yours. Amen. 


  The Friday Benediction
Until Monday, my friends, may the good God envelop you with His grace; may you prove the common confession of faith, “I believe in the holy Christian church and in the fellowship of the saints”, and may you be enriched with joy and hope as you exercise that confession this weekend.  Amen
 


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Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Lasting Impact of a Foolish Act


Love not this world, nor the things in this world, for the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life are not from the Father but from the world.” I John 2:15-16 paraphrase
In Genesis chapter 25 we find a brief few verses (29-34) that set the stage for some of the most dramatic teaching that will appear later in the Scriptures. These verses point out a need, an impetuosity and opportunism. We might shorten it to greed, speed and sorrow. Unfortunately the sorrow doesn’t come until much later and by then it is too late. What was the final cost of this rash act? It cost a nation, a heritage, and heaven. It reveals the true cost of setting our minds on our self and not on God.
God had told Abraham that He would pass the eternal blessing onto Abraham’s son, Isaac. But Isaac had two sons. By nature the elder should have obtained the heritage of the full promises of God. But the Bible says that this elder son, Esau, despised his heritage, the promises of God and sold them for so little as a bowl of stew! Throughout the rest of the Scripture we find Esau (the nation Edom) condemned eternally in no uncertain terms. Jacob, the younger son, though a nasty rascal in his own right, ultimately finds forgiveness and he is eternally blessed. The love of a meal and the loss of heaven is a potent picture of the high cost of loving the things of this world above the things of God.

Dear Father, Strengthen me by Your Spirit to walk in pursuit of Your will and not my own desires. Amen. 


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