Graduation Day

Graduation Day

Today’s Passage – Genesis 48 – 50 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 9 – 10; Proverbs 19; Psalms 91 – 95)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 119:105

Read the “0119 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.” (Genesis 49:1)

I remember when I was a young person attending school. At the end of every school year there was an awards ceremony and they would give out various awards for attendance, academics, athletics, and even some for attitude. I didn’t receive many awards as a child, I was what you might call “exceedingly average” in just about every area. Looking back on my school days, I can only recall receiving three awards: two in intermediate school, and one in college (the first time I went to college – not Bible school). However, I remember that every time I attended one of those awards ceremonies, or a commencement exercise, I would always feel two things. First, I would feel regret for not having applied myself more that year. I would realize that I could and should have done more; I should have worked harder; I shouldn’t have goofed off so much, wasting valuable time. The second thing that I would feel is motivated. I would determine that next year was going to be different for me; next year I was going to do better; next year I would be up there on the stage getting some kind of award. The only problem was that my weaknesses in character always outlasted my bursts of motivation.

You may be wondering right now what all of this has to do with the passage that we read in Genesis this morning. Well, here is the connection. Every time I read chapter 49 in Genesis, I am reminded of these award ceremonies. Except, here it is the one who is graduating to Heaven that is handing out the awards. Jacob is about to die, and he calls all of his children together to pronounce a blessing upon some. Unfortunately, he also will be pronouncing a curse upon others. Can you imagine the last words that you hear out of your father’s mouth before he dies being words of regret, rather than words of praise. I know well what it feels like trying to live a life that is pleasing to a father. I spent a good deal of my young adulthood trying to receive “attaboys” from my dad by achieving sales and success in the business world, which was his life. I think every child desires to please their father; at least most do. I cannot imagine the hurt I would feel if my father were to offer words of regret about my life at his passing. These sons of Jacob had all ran out of time. The time to live a life that would be worthy of being blessed by their father had passed.

You know what’s worse, however, than not receiving words of blessing and praise from your earthly father? Not receiving them from your Heavenly Father. Someday all who are His children will stand before Him and give account for their lives. Some will hear words of praise and will receive rewards; others will not. I want to please my Heavenly Father in my life today so that He will someday say to me, “Well done”. I guess I never got past that desire to hear “attaboy”; only now it is my Heavenly Father that I want to live for. Don’t misunderstand, I love my dad dearly, and I want my life to be a source of blessing to him as well, but my passion in life today is to live for God. I want the same thing for my children. Yes I want to be pleased with them, but ultimately the only thing that matters is if God is pleased with them.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (3 John 1:4)

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Just Let It Go


Today’s Passage – Genesis 45 – 47 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 7 – 8; Proverbs 18; Psalms 86 – 90)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – James 4:10

Read a previous post from this passage – “The Big Picture

“And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while. And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive.” – (Genesis 46:29-30)

“He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.” – (Proverbs 17:9)

I could be wrong about this, but I do not believe that Joseph ever told his father what his brothers had actually done to him. He does discuss it with the brothers, but only to assure them that he had forgiven them, because he knew that God had allowed all of it to happen for a greater purpose. Joseph was certainly in a good position to get even with his brothers, but what good would that have done. He also could have brought their evil report to their father as he had done earlier in his life, but that would only have hurt his father, and further damage relationships within the family.

Joseph was a great picture of Christ. He not only forgave their sin, but he also worked hard to restore the relationship. We need to learn to be more like Joseph. Too many of us are harboring bitterness and unforgiveness in our hearts toward those who have wronged us. We refuse to just let things go. We want to keep punishing the people who have hurt us in the past, and we want to make sure that everbody else knows what they have done. But in the long run, we are only hurting ourselves, and that bitterness that is oozing from our hearts is literally destroying us from within.

Let it go. Learn to forgive, forget, and move forward in your relationships with people. Yes, we have been wronged, but we also have wronged others as well. It profits none of us to continue living in the past.

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What About Judah?


Today’s Passages – Genesis 38 – 40 (Click on the references to listen to the passages. Click here to view today’s passage on Blue Letter Bible.)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 1 – 2; Proverbs 15; Psalms 71 – 75)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 89:1

Read the “0115 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.” (Revelation 5:5)

We don’t talk a lot about Judah as a man. We know that Jesus comes from the tribe of Judah, and we know that when Israel split in the time of King Rehoboam that the tribe of Judah alone stood in Jerusalem and demonstrated better adherence to the Law of God than her neighbors to the north did; but what do we know about the man, Judah. I have been guilty of assuming that the reason that God chose the tribe of Judah above all of the other tribes was due to the fact that Judah was a more honorable man than his three older brothers. In fact, I recently posted that thought in the “Boys Will Be Boys” post from two days ago. However, after reading today’s passage, I had to give it a little more thought.

In chapter 37, we discover that it was Judah that suggested to his brothers that they sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites, and there is nothing in the context to support the fact that he did so for the purpose of sparing his life:

“And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.” (Genesis 37:26-27)

It appears that he merely wanted to make a profit from the situation. Killing Joseph would not have benefitted him financially. By the way, we usually don’t think too highly about Reuben, but it was he who tried to save Joseph, not Judah.

Chapter 38 is a parenthetical digression dealing solely with the family of Judah. In it we see that Judah marries a woman from Canaan:

“And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name was Shuah; and he took her, and went in unto her.” (Genesis 38:2)

You may recall that Isaac strictly forbid Jacob (Judah’s father) from taking a wife from the daughters of Canaan. (Genesis 28:1, 6)

Later on in chapter 38, we read about Judah purchasing a prostitute, which turns out to be his daughter-in-law:

“When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face. And he turned unto her by the way, and said, Go to, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee; (for he knew not that she was his daughter in law.) And she said, What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come in unto me?” (Genesis 38:15-16)

Now in a couple of days we are going to read a story about Judah where he is doing a good thing. In Genesis 44 he will be interceding with Joseph, pleading with him to allow Benjamin to go home to his father, Jacob. He even offers himself as a substitute. Judah got this one right:

“Then Judah came near unto him, and said, Oh my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord’s ears, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant: for thou art even as Pharaoh. … For thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father, saying, If I bring him not unto thee, then I shall bear the blame to my father for ever. Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren.” (Genesis 44:18, 32-33)

So, here it is: the bad and the good about Judah, and it seems that there is more bad than good recorded. So why did God choose Judah? Was it because he was a good man as opposed to his evil older brothers? No, I don’t think so. He did, however, demonstrate Christlikeness when he offered himself as a substitute for his brother Benjamin. But I still do not think that is the reason why Christ descends from Judah. Judah was just like you and me. He was a sinner. He did bad things, just like us; and it was only because of God’s grace that He could do anything with Judah at all. By the way, it is only because of God’s grace that He can do anything with you or I. He saves us by His grace, and He can only use us by His grace as well.

“Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee. Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.” (Genesis 49:8-12)

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The Green Eyed Monster


Today’s Passage – Genesis 36 – 37 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 27 – 28; Proverbs 14; Psalms 66 – 70

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Matthew 6:33

Read the “0114 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.” (Genesis 37:11)

“And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him,” (Acts 7:9)

“O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on; …” (“Othello” – Shakespeare)

“For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.” (Mark 15:10)

“Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:26)

“Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?” – (Proverbs 27:4)

You have probably heard the expression, “Jealousy is a terrible thing.” There can be no clearer illustration of this truth than the example given here in Genesis 37. Here Joseph’s brothers are so jealous (envious) of Joseph that they first conspire to kill him, but finally acquiesce to selling him into slavery. What would cause them to envy there brother so much that it would cause them to sin so against him (not to mention against their father)? I believe we can see three ingredients that fueled the jealousy.

1  The Favoritism of the Father – Joseph was one of only two boys that was born to Rachel, the wife he loved dearly; and he was the second youngest of all of his children. Jacob did not attempt to veil his love for this child, either He made it clear to all others inthe family that He had a very special place in his heart for Joseph. He made him a beautiful coat of many colors. The other brothers received no such token of the father’s affection. It is not wrong to treat our children individually, based upon the needs that each may have; but it is wrong for parents to love their children differently. I confess, that at times this can be difficult; but we must strive to assure each of our children that we love them, and that our love for each does not exceed the love of another.

2   The Folly of the Son – I may be off base here; but Joseph did not show much wisdom in his bold declarations of the dreams to his brothers. God had obviously revealed a special plan for Joseph: a plan which involved him being placed in a position of authority over, not only his brothers, but also his father and mother. Maybe it was just because of his honest nature, but Joseph seemed to almost rub it in the face of his brothers.

3  The Finger of God – God obviously had his hand on the boy’s life. He had a special plan for Joseph. God’s hand upon Joseph was clearly evident to his brothers, and I believe this was the real problem. They saw in Joseph something they had lost. Joseph had a purity about him, that we have already seen to be lacking in some, if not all, of his brothers. They saw in Joseph what they should be, and instead of rejoicing in his devotion to the Lord, they attempted to destroy the reminder.

Envy is a terrible thing. I fight it all of the time in my life. I hear of a preacher being blessed of God in his ministry, and often the “green eyed monster” rears his ugly head. I sometimes have to force myself to rejoice in the victory that God is giving to my brothers. I bet that some of you have this problem as well. God blesses somebody in your life, maybe financially or materially, and you get jealous. Maybe your peer at work receives a promotion, and you don’t. How does it make you feel? Ask God to help you rid your heart of this monster. This green beast does not come from the Spirit of God; he is purely a product of your sinful nature. Don’t allow him to influence you to such an extent that you sin against God and others with your words or actions. The “Green Eyed Monster” needs to be put to death in all of our lives. Remember, God is not a repecter of persons. He loves no one more than he loves you, and He has a special plan for your life, just as much as He has used others.

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No More Jacob


Today’s Passages – Genesis 31 – 32 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 23 – 24; Proverbs 12; Psalms 56 – 60)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 51

Read the “0112 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.” (Genesis 32:28)

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Jacob left the land of Canaan with a name that means “supplanter” or “deceiver”; but he returns after twenty years with name Israel, which means “a prince of God”. This is a wonderful picture of the power of God to transform lives. Jacob didn’t just get a name change, either, he received a nature change, and so do we when we give our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ. God gives us a new nature. The Holy Spirit of God moves in and transforms our lives from the inside out. This isn’t just a “turning over of a new leaf”. This is the impartation of a divine nature into the heart of a formerly fallen sinner. What a wonderful thing it is to be a Christian.

Notice, however, that Jacob did not receive his new name until he had been with Laban for twenty years. Justification and positional righteousness take place immediately when we are born again into the family of God; but sanctification and practical righteousness in our lives is a lifelong process. God had to do some things in Jacob’s life. I have been saved now for over twenty-five years myself, and God is still chipping away at my rough edges; still revealing areas of my life that need His touch. In fact, the closer I walk with him, the more I see the things in my life that are not as they should be. My goal is just to get close to Him, and allow Him to have His will and His way in my life. I am not what I should be but, praise God, I am not what I used to be, either. I am not yet an Israel, but no longer am I Jacob. God is still at work in my life. I am trying to get out of His way and let Him work.

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – (Romans 12:2)


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The Battle of the Ages


Today’s Passage – Genesis 25 – 26 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 17 – 18; Proverbs 9; Psalms 41 – 45)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 47:1

Read the “0109 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree” and “From A Father To A Son”

“And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD.” (Genesis 25:22)

As I was reading this I could not help but think that it is a picture of the struggle that is within each of us. Here in this passage we see Rebekah with twin boys in her womb; and the Scripture tell us that they struggled within her. Now, we know from hindsight that these boys and their descendants would be struggling for a long time; in fact, they are still struggling today. However, we also can see how that these boys are a picture of the new nature which struggles against the old nature. Esau who was born first is a picture of the flesh, and Jacob is a picture of the new birth, the birth of the Spirit. You see, when we trusted Christ as our Saviour we became new creatures in Christ, but God did not remove our old, sinful nature. He is alive and well. That is why Paul talked often about crucifying the flesh. Look at some of the things that God used Paul to pen regarding this struggle:

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” (Romans 7:18)

“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” (Galatians 5:17)

“For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.” (Romans 7:15)

All of these verses speak of the struggle that is within each one of us who are saved. In this New Year,  I have resolved to get as close to God as possible so that He will “[work] in me both to will and to do of his good pleasure”. I want to reduce the influence that my flesh has over my mind. I want my mind and body to be yielded to the indwelling Spirit of God. There will always be a struggle between the Jacob and Esau within us, but I want to see Jacob win more often.

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People Can Change


Today’s Passage – Genesis 43 – 44 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 5 – 6; Proverbs 17; Psalms 81 – 85)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 92:1 – 4

Read the “0117 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from today’s reading passage – “Passed the Test”

“And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.” (Genesis 37:26 & 27)

“Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren. For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad benot with me? lest peradventure I see the evil that shall come on my father.” (Genesis 44:33 & 34)

There is quite a contrast between the events that take place in chapter 37 and those that happen in chapter 44 of the Book of Genesis. In chapter 37 the brothers of Joseph want to put Joseph to death (all except Reuben). Judah, who is the fourth oldest son comes up with idea of selling his brother into slavery. His idea does save Joseph’s life, but consider with me what this heinous act did to Joseph’s father, Jacob. We are all familiar with the events that transpired in the life of Joseph; they are recorded in these chapters 37 through 44. God had his hand on Joseph, and although he certainly suffered, God raised him up to a position of great influence and authority. But what about Jacob? For years Jacob thought his favorite son, Joseph, was dead. Joseph’s brothers seemed to have no problem going home and telling their father that their brother was killed by some wild beast. How could their level of compassion and care for their father be so low that they would be willing to put him through the tragic loss of Joseph.

There is certainly a change, however, in chapter 44. Joseph puts his brothers through a series of tests. (You will have to read the story for yourself in order to fully grasp the thought I am trying to convey here.) The final test is when Joseph arranges to “set up” Benjamin his youngest brother. I think Joseph was really trying to keep Benjamin safe with him, away from his other brothers. He tells the brothers that Benjamin is going to have to be kept as a bondman in Egypt. But notice how Judah intercedes this time for his brother. He remembers what the loss of Joseph did to his father, and now he is doing everything in his power to keep the same thing from happening to Benjamin. He knows that the loss of Benjamin will completely destroy his father. He even goes as far as to offer to take the place of Benjamin. This is certainly a change from his earlier days.

Judah changed. God changed him. God can change you and I too. People can change. I believe the best way to bring about the needed changes in your life is for you to get as close to God as you can. I am convinced that as we draw nigh to God, He will purge the dross from our lives, and conform us to the image of the Lord Jesus. Do you desire to remain the same or do you desire to be more like Jesus in your life? Judah certainly bore a resemblance to the Lord Jesus here in chapter 44 in the way that he interceded for his brother, and by the way he was willing to be a substitute. God can do the same for you and me as we yield our lives and our will to Him.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” – (2 Corinthians 5:17)

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – (Romans 12:2)

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Saving for the Future


Today’s Passage – Genesis 41 – 42 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 3 – 4; Proverbs 16; Psalms 76 – 80

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Ephesians 4:32

Read a previous post from this passage – “In His Time

“Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years. And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine.” – (Genesis 41:34-36)

Our passage of Scripture today explains that Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, had a dream, which he did not understand the significance of. I am not sure that all dreams have significance, but this dream must have been especially troubling to Pharaoh as he called in all of the people he could to help him figure it out. He dreamed about seven cattle that were very healthy and fat, and they were feeding in a meadow. Then there came along seven cattle that were lean and unhealthy, and they ate the healthy cattle. Then Pharaoh dreamed about ears of corn. Once again, the first seven ears were healthy and full, but there came along seven other ears of corn that devoured the first seven. No one in the kingdom could help Pharaoh understand the meaning of the dreams, until they brought Joseph up out of the prison. You see, Joseph had already demonstrated in the past to some of Pharaoh’s servants that he could help in these matters.

Joseph revealed to Pharaoh that both the cattle, and the corn in his dreams represented years. That healthy and full cattle and corn represented seven good years; years when there would be plenty of rain, and the land would produce food in abundance. Unfortunately, the seven good years would be followed by seven years of drought, and famine; years where the land would produce very little, and the people of Egypt and the surrounding areas would eventually go hungry.

Because Joseph had the inside scoop on what was about to happen, Pharaoh had appointed him prime minister over the land, and granted him authority over everyone else, save Pharaoh himself. Joseph began purchasing food from the Egyptians in the good years, when it was abundant and cheap. He stored the food that he bought in the cities, and soon, he had a great mass of food laid up in store, ready for the lean years that were to come. I imagine that there were probably many people that thought Joseph was foolish for purchasing all of that food. I mean, after all, there was plenty of food everywhere, and the land just kept producing more. It may have seemed to most that there would never come a day when the good times would end. But they did. And Joseph was ready.

In this passage, Joseph not only demonstrated that he had a special gift from God in discerning the dreams of men, but he also showed that he had godly wisdom. Wisdom teaches that we should not consume all that God gives us today, because we may need some of it tomorrow. It is wise to prepare for the days of leanness and famine that may be ahead in our future. Just recently in America we saw countless people who had their expensive houses and cars foreclosed on because they had lost their jobs. In the previous years they were making great money. Who would have thought that the economy was going to plunge into recession? Many people went into large amounts of debt, simply because they believed that the good years would never end, but they did; and now they are suffering the consequence of their over-consumption and lack of preparation for the lean years.

We need to learn a very practical lesson from this passage. Things may be good today, but they may not be so good tomorrow. It is very wise to save a little today, so that we are bettered prepared for tomorrow. You do not have to be a miser, but a little saving will go a long way. Also, it is very wise to avoid debt, especially consumer debt. Cut up those credit cards if you have trouble controlling your spending. Learn to live with a little less today, so that you can survive tomorrow.

Joseph was a wise steward, and as a result he prospered while everyone else was suffering. We can do the same thing.

Oh, I almost forgot. The best way to save for the future is to invest in God’s Kingdom. He pays better interest that anything else out there.

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Boys Will Be Boys

Today’s Passage – Genesis 33 – 35 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 25 – 26; Proverbs 13; Psalms 61 – 65)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 55:17

Read the “0113 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from today’s reading – “Lead On Softly

And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males.” (Genesis 34:25)

“And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine: and Israel heard [it]. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve:” (Genesis 35:22)

I grew up in a home with four boys. We were blessed to not have any sisters. Girls have cooties: at least that is what I was told as a boy. In fact, even in my extended family, on my dad’s side, there were only boys. I had six male cousins, but no girls. I remember my grandmother would often get frustrated with our bad behavior. We were always fooling and fighting. We were being boys. She would often go get my dad and tell him: “Those Boys!” I must have heard that phrase come out of her lips a thousand times, and it usually meant that we were in trouble.

Jacob also had a bunch of boys that would often find themselves in trouble. In fact the verses above tell of the shinanigans that three of the sons were involved in. The first involved sons numbers two and three: Simeon and Levi. (I was often referred to by number as a child as well.) It seems that these boys wanted to exact revenge upon a local huligan that had raped their sister. Now, there is nothing wrong with these boys wanting to see justice done to this guy; but they took it way too far. Without the permission of their father, they go into this man’s village and kill every male. Jacob later recalls the event and says that the boys were instruments of cruelty, and that their anger was fierce. I don’t blame them for the way they felt, and I do not fault them for desiring revenge. I have three daughters of my own now, and I don’t even want to think about what I would do if this happened to one of them. But, there will be many times in life where our passion, and our thinking need to be yielded to the will of God.

The next incident involves son number one; the oldest, Reuben. This man also had a big problem with passion, but with him it was a sick lust for the opposite sex. This man actually had sex with his father’s concubine (kind of a second class wife). His fleshly desires were out of control. He was certainly not considering the will of God when he did this. Consider for a moment the depravity of the human heart. Your heart and my heart. We need to yield our members as instruments of righteousness; and we need to walk in the Spirit so that we will not fulfil the lusts that are inside each of us.

Unfortunately for these boys there were some pretty severe consequences for their actions. You will recall that the boys involved in these two incidents were boys one through three, right? Reuben, who was the firstborn, should have been the one with the birthright, but he lost it. Simeon and Levi were disqualified also. Guess who got it? Your right. Boy number four, Judah. I seem to recall that Jesus is called the lion of the tribe of Reuben, right? No. He is the lion of the tribe of Judah. Jesus descended from Son Number Four. The only thing good that came from Reuben is a tasty sandwich with Pastrami and Swiss Cheese. The bottom line is that I want to exhort you to think before you allow your passions to take control. The act of passion takes only a moment, but the consequences are long term. Please, walk with God. Run every decision, every word, every act past His desk. Let Him control your passions.

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Today’s Passage – Genesis 29 – 30 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read –Matthew 21 – 22; Proverbs 11; Psalms 51 – 55)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Isaiah 40:31

Read a previous post from this passage – “Moving Forward

And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me? (Genesis 29:25)

It this passage we see that Jacob who had deceived his father is now being deceived himself. He had left Canaan (Israel) and travelled back to the place where his family originated (near Babylon) in order to find a wife. He arrives and meets a beautiful young lady named Rachel who happened to be his cousin (OK back in those days – really wierd today). He falls in love with her and strikes a bargain with her uncle to work for him for seven years as payment for his daughter. Oh how I wish that we still followed this program today. I have three beutiful daughters and I would have been rich. Anyway, after his seven years of hard labor is completed, Jacob wants his wife. However, when he wakes up in the morning he does not find beautiful Rachel lying next to him in the bed, but instead he sees Leah, Rachel’s older sister. You can imagine the suprize that must have been on his face when he laid eyes on Leah who the Bible describes as “tender- eyed”. That was the phrase you used in Bible days when you wanted to be kind when describing someone who was ugly. Jacob was tricked by his uncle Laban. The deceiver was deceived.

I have two thoughts regarding this passage of Scripture. The first is the principle of sowing and reaping. Jacob reaped deception because he was a sower of deception. In fact, I think we learn in the coming chapters that Jacob reaps a little more than he sowed. We sure have to be careful in our lives because this principle is certainly in effect today as well. The Bible says be sure your sin will find you out; and the way of the transgressor is hard. It will eventually come back to bite you. I have seen this principle often in my life and ministry. Many of the problems that I have dealt with as a pastor have been areas where I have been guilty in the past. However, the principle works for good things as well as bad. Sow some good things in your life and you will reap some good things back. Sow a little mercy toward others and you will reap a little mercy from others. Sow a little kindness, and reap a little kindness; sow a little compassion, and you will reap a little compassion. You get the idea.

The second thought is that you cannot trust the world. Laban was not a saved man, and Jacob was trusting him to be faithful and trustworthy in his dealings with him. Laban is a type of the devil. If you make a deal with the devil or the world for Rachel, you are going to wake up someday with Leah. Satan is a liar, and this world is completely out for itself. Even God’s people can be downright untrustworthy at times; but know this: you can trust God completely. He will always deliver what he promises, and He will always do right. Even when we don’t understand what He is doing, or why; we can be assured that He loves us, and that He has our best interests in mind.

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Taker or Giver?


Today’s Passage – Genesis 23 – 24 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 15 – 16; Proverbs 8; Psalms 36 – 40)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 34:6

Read the “0108 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “The Bride of Christ”

“And Abraham bowed down himself before the people of the land. And he spake unto Ephron in the audience of the people of the land, saying, But if thou wilt give it, I pray thee, hear me: I will give thee money for the field; take it of me, and I will bury my dead there.”(Genesis 23:12-13)

“And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:” (Genesis 14:22-23)

“And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.” (2 Samuel 24:24)

“I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:33-35)

My thought this morning may be a little strange, but I noticed in our reading today that Abraham was offered several times a place to bury his wife Sarah at no cost to him, but he refused to take it unless he paid for it. Back in Genesis 14, we see a similar situation. Abraham and his servants had helped save the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah after they had been conquered and taken captive. The kings of the cities that Abraham helped offered to give Abraham money and possessions for his help, but Abraham refused them also.

In 2 Samuel 24, David was offered the threshing floor of Araunah along with the oxen necessary for a sacrifice, but David refused him also, insisting that he pay money for those things.

Paul also was very reluctant to take anything from people, as can be seen in the above reference from Acts 20.

All three of these men of God were very careful in their financial dealings with people. They didn’t accept any gifts from people who might be giving gifts with strings attached to them. These men wanted to be sure that people understood that God was the supplier of their needs, not men.

I too am very uncomfortable receiving gifts from people, perhaps because of a pride issue, which is also wrong; but I think all too many servants of God are too willing to accept gifts from people, even going to the extreme of constantly asking people for things. Ministers often have a bad reputation in this world for being covetous and greedy, and unfortunately in some cases this is not unjustified. Ministers today need to be very careful to remember that it is God who supplies our needs, not people. The Bible says,“And thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous.” (Exodus 23:8).

We who minister today need to make sure that the people know that we are not merely hirelings who do what we do only for what we can get. We need to improve our reputation by being givers, not takers.

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God Will Provide Himself A Lamb


Today’s Passage – Genesis 20 – 22 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 13 – 14; Psalms 31 – 35; Proverbs 7

Read the “0107 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Heream 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

Before I begin my thought this morning from today’s passage in the Scripture, let me say that I feel totally inadequate to even attempt to glean all of the depth and beauty that is contained in chapter 22. We are certainly treading on Holy Ground as we deal with the great test that God gave Abraham when He asked him to offer up his only son, Isaac. I strongly encourage you to prayerfully re-read this chapter, and ask God to open your eyes to the many wonderful pictures of the Lord Jesus Christ that we will see in this chapter. I will discuss some of these types of Christ from this passage in a minute, but first let me say, that God was definitely putting Abraham to the test by asking this of him. God had first promised Abraham a son twenty years before He actually gave him. Abraham had waited so long, but God finally delivered on His promise. To make matters worse, Abraham’s other son, Ishmael, who was born to a concubine had been sent away; so Isaac was all that Abraham had, and God was now asking him to give him back. Think now how you would respond to this. What if God were to ask you to sacrifice your only child? What if God were to ask you to let your child serve Him on a foreign mission field? We become pretty attached to the children God gives us, don’t we?

First, let us consider the  person of the sacrifice. Before, we look at the pictures of Christ contained in chapter 22, let’s examine how the child, Isaac, is a picture of Christ. The birth of Isaac bears a striking resemblance to the birth of Christ in many ways making Isaac’s birth a type or a picture of the birth of our Lord. A. W. Pink in his work, Gleanings in Genesis, points out the following:

1  Isaac was the promised seed and son; and so was Christ. (Genesis 17:16; 3:5; Isaiah 7:14)

2  In both cases there was a long period of time between the promise of birth and the fulfillment of that promise. (Genesis 12:7)

3  In both cases the announcement of the birth to the mothers and the reception of the news were similar. (Genesis 18:12 – 14; Luke 1:34 – 37)

4  In both cases the name of the child was specified before birth.  (Genesis 17:19; Matthew 1:21)

5  Both births occurred at an appointed time. (Genesis 21:2; Galatians 4:4)

6  Both births were miraculous.  (Consider also the birth of Samuel and the birth of John the Baptist)

7  The name Isaac, which means laughter, was given by Abraham indicating the delight of the father.  So too did Jesus’ Father declare His delight, when He said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

These types, which are replete throughout the Book of Genesis, remind us of the infallibility of the Word of God.  How could any human instrument paint such an accurate and beautiful picture of our Lord centuries before His birth.

Now let’s consider the place of the sacrifice. Did you know that this Mt. Moriah is the very same mountain that the Lord Jesus would be crucified on years later. By the way, it is also the place where David offers his sacrifice; and also the same mountain where the temple would be built.

Finally. let us look at some of the other pictures contained in this chapter:

1  They arrived at Moriah on the third day. (v 4)  For three days Isaac was thought to be as good as dead to Abraham.  But on this third day, Abraham was given back his son alive.  Of course, the third day is the day of resurrection.

2  The wood for the sacrifice was placed upon Isaac, (v 6) and carried by Isaac to the place of the sacrifice.  Remember that Christ carried the wood for His sacrifice as well.

3  In verse five, they leave the servants behind.  This was between the father and the son.  Christ also left the disciples at Gethsemane; and even the two thieves were excluded when the darkness fell when Christ was on the cross.

4  Notice in verse eight, “God will provide himself a lamb”.  This is not a reference to the ram that was given later on in the chapter.  This is clearly a reference to Christ.

5  The Ram was caught in a thicket.  Thorns were upon the head of the Saviour.

“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)

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Relationships Are More Valuable Than Riches


Today’s Passages – Genesis 13 – 16 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 9 – 10; Proverbs 5; Psalms 21 – 25)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 19

Read the “0105 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read last year’s post from this passage – “Gardens and Green Grass – or God’s Will?”

“And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.” – (Genesis 13:8)

I recommend that you go to the link above and read the post that we did last year. However, I also want to give you a quick thought this year from Genesis 13. Lot and Abraham, and apparently the people that worked for them, began to fight because their possessions increased to the point that they could no longer work and live together. Now, I completely understand that it is a good things for our children, or in this case a nephew, to separate from us and go out on their own. However, the thing that troubles me from this passage is the reason that this particular family separated. It was all about money and possessions. It grieves me that family and friends will often forsake each other due to conflicts regarding money. Riches are not as important as relationships, and relationships are of far more value than riches.

“And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” – (Luke 12:15)

“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” – (1 Timothy 6:10)

As I get older, I realize that the people in my life: my wife, my children, and my friends; bring me more joy than anything that money can buy. Possessions are not wrong as long as they don’t possess you, but possessions have a way of becoming idols in our lives. We need to be careful that we never let our bank accounts, or our stuff, take precedent over the relationships that God has given us.

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The Beginning of Globalism

The Ruins of the Tower of Babel

The Ruins of the Tower of Babel

Today’s Passage – Genesis 10 – 12 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 7 – 8; Proverbs 4; Psalms 16 – 20)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 89:1

Read a previous post from this passage – “Don’t Move Unless God Moves You

“And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” – (Genesis 11:4)

In our passage today, we read about the Tower of Babel, man’s first attempt at a one-world government. God was not pleased with man’s attempt to build himself a place in the heavens then, and He is not pleased with it now. Our world is moving rapidly toward this “New World Order”, which will eventually be headed up by the antichrist, and will include a universal religion. Unfortunately, this one-world worship system will not be worshipping Jesus Christ, but will in fact be worshipping the god of this world – Satan.

I for one am grieved with all of this coming together. I am an American. I am proud of my heritage, and the culture that I was raised in. I am not against other nations, and people groups. I love them, and desire to see them reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ; but I am not trying to get them to become like me in their culture, and neither do I want to become like them. In our church, we have many different nationalities present, including people from Africa, Europe, Asia, and South America. They are all wonderful people and have unique cultural backgrounds. I enjoy fellowshipping with them, and I especially enjoy eating their delicious foods; but I am not trying to change them. The common bond that glues us together is the Lord Jesus Christ. We are all followers of the Lord, but I do not believe the Lord would want us to all give up the things that make us diverse from one another culturally.

I am also very opposed to uniting with all of the other religious groups in the world. I can have no fellowship at all with religions that do not worship and serve the Lord Jesus Christ, and believe we should even separate from so-called Christian religions and denominations who preach a gospel other than salvation by grace through faith. The Bible is clear that two cannot walk together unless they be agreed. I am a Baptist, and I am not ashamed of that. I don’t wish to become anything else. I find that when we attempt to all come together, we have to lose some of the distinctives that we hold dear. I don’t want to lose those things, so I separate from other religious groups. I don’t hate them, and I don’t try to stop them, I just don’t fellowship with them in a church setting. Personally, I may be able to enjoy the company of believers of other denominations because of our common bond of salvation, but I will not invite other denominations to preach for us at the church, or participate in our worship services.

The only one-world government and religion that I will go along with is the one that is completely under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Someday soon He will set up a wonderful New World Order with Himself as the King, but it will be completely free from the corruption of man and sin.

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Too Old To Do Something for the Lord?

Group Of Senior Couples Attending Book Reading Group

Today’s Passage – Genesis 7 – 9 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 5 – 6; Proverbs 3 ; Psalms 11 – 15

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 18:3 & 46

Read the “0103 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from today’s passage – “It Doesn’t Take Long, Does It?“; “A Token

“And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.” – (Genesis 7:6)

“And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years. And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died.” – (Genesis 9:28-29)

The thought I have this morning may seem a little strange, but bear with me. Notice that Noah was 600 years old when the flood came, and he lived beyond the flood another 350 years. The lifespan of man back in these early days after creation was obviously a lot longer than it is today. Men and women would have lived forever had sin not entered into their world, but the wages of eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil was death; but even still, that death didn’t come for 100’s of years. The flood would cataclysmically change the earth, which would reduce lifespans; and then a strange event is mentioned but not explained in the Bible, which would further reduce the average age that men and women would live on the earth. (See Genesis 10:25; 11:10 – 19) By the time you get to Abraham, man’s years are reduced even further to 175; and eventually God limited man’s years on earth to “three score and ten (70), with possibly another ten years added for good behavior. (Psalm 90:10)

I didn’t mean for this to be an exhaustive study on the Biblical history of lifespans, but I merely wanted to point out that Noah’s life was better than half over when God called him to build the ark and deliver his family through the flood. In today’s years, Noah would have been in his fifties when called upon to do this monumental task for the Lord. Moses was two-thirds of the way done with his life (80 years old) when God called him to deliver the children of Israel out of Egypt. It seems that God does not have a problem giving older folks the strength and energy to do great things for Him.

I am 52 years old, and I am way past the half way point in my life; but I can still be used of the Lord to accomplish His will. Sometimes, I start to get a little discouraged about how much I have done for the Lord thus far. I would like to have completed some more tasks, done a little more than I have; but then, when I read passages like this, I get encouraged, because it may just be that I will be used of God in greater ways in my remaining years. I bet the same is true for you as well. You are not as young as you used to be, but God still wants to use you to accomplish great things for Him.

Noah Webster completed his monumental American Dictionary of the English Language at age 66.

Benjamin Franklin helped draft the Declaration of Independence at age 70.

Nola Ochs became the oldest person to receive a college diploma, a degree in general studies with an emphasis on history at age 95.

Grandma Moses (yes it’s a real person) started painting at age 76, and completed over 1000 paintings by the time she died at 101.

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Shining Brightly in a Dark World

Today’s Passage  – Genesis 4 – 6 (Click on the reference to listen to the audio. Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 3 – 4; Proverbs 2; Psalms 6 – 10)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Joshua 1:8

Read the “0102 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5)

“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” (Genesis 6:8)

“These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.” (Genesis 6:9)

“The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.” (Genesis 6:11)

“But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,” (Matthew 24:37-38)

The New Testament tells us that what we read in the Old Testament is partially given to us to be an example to us and to admonish us. I am very encouraged by the example of Noah who was a bright and shining light during a very dark period of man’s history. The Bible tells that in the days of Noah “every imagination … was only evil continually”. In fact, Noah and his family were the only saved people on the face of the earth. 2 Peter tells us that Noah wasn’t a silent Christian, either; he was a “preacher of righteousness”, which means that even though the people weren’t taking him seriously, he continued to shine brightly by preaching the truth.

The parallels to our present day are very plain here. We are also living in perilous times, and though it may not be quite as bad yet as it was in Noah’s day, the world today is certainly a very dark place. Yet, we can be challenged by the example of Noah, and continue to boldly live for the Lord, and shine the light of Christ’s glorious gospel. If Noah had enough grace to stand for the truth back then, I am sure that God will give us the grace that we need in order to stand today.

Here are some tips for keeping your spiritual battery charged this year so you can continue to shine brightly:

1  Walk with God every day. Noah did (Genesis 6:9) – spend time daily in the Word of God and prayer.

2  Gather with God’s people every time the doors are opened. The preaching of the word and the edification that we receive from other believers will strengthen us tremendously:

“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

3  Win souls – get out in the highways and hedges, the streets and lanes of the city, and tell people about the Lord. There is nothing more invigorating than to see people come to faith in Christ; and unlike Noah’s day, people are still getting saved today.

4  Unplug from the world. If you really want to shine brightly in this dark world, you will have to stop allowing the darkness to permeate your life.

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Let There Be Light



Today’s Passage – Genesis 1 – 3 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 1 – 2; Proverbs 1; Psalms 1 – 5)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Deuteronomy 32:4

Read the “0101 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from today’s reading – “In the Beginning“; “He Is Still Creating Me

“And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.” (Genesis 1:4)

This is the first of three separations in this chapter. Here light is separated from darkness; later, the sky will be separated from the water; and then the land will be separated from the water. This is also the first spiritual picture of the doctrine of separation. God divided the light from the darkness. We are the children of light (1 Thessalonians 5:5).

“Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” (1 Thessalonians 5:5)

“While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.” (John 12:36)

“For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:” (Ephesians 5:8)

We are commanded to shine the light of God, and we are also instructed to not fellowship with darkness.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” (Ephesians 5:11)

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)

“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (John 3:19-21)

There is a lot of darkness in the world, which should, at least theoretically, cause our light to appear brighter. Unfortunately, too many Christians are also becoming darker because of the attraction that we have for this world and its culture and our desire to be accepted. The Bible commands us to love the people in the world, but also to “love not” the worldly culture and anti-God philosophies. The best way to do this is to live separated lives as we shine the light of the gospel to the people around us.

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Are You Willing to Wait?

Today’s Passage – Genesis 41 – 42 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 3 – 4 Proverbs 16Psalms 76 – 80)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 92:1

Read the “0116 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from today’s reading passage – “Saving for the Future”

“And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.” – (Genesis 41:38-41)

There are two questions that I would like to consider this morning:

1  Would you be willing to wait all of the years that Joseph waited if you new there was a marvelous and exciting plan for your life in the distant future?

2  Would you be willing to endure all of the hardship that Joseph endured and remain faithful to the Lord if you knew that those trials were necessary to advance the plans and purposes of God?

The story of Joseph begins in Genesis 37. In these chapters we discover that Joseph goes from being a favored son of Jacob to a slave in the house of Potipher, and then to a prisoner in Pharaoh’s kingdom. Joseph’s downward slide began with a dream that he had which revealed to him that God was going to elevate him above his brothers, and even above his father. His brothers would have none of Joseph’s dreams and sought to be rid of him, and for a long time they were. However, many years after they sold their brother into bondage, the sons of Jacob went down into Egypt at the request of their father to purchase food, and who do you think was the guy in charge of the food? You guessed it: Joseph. Egypt was the only place that had food in this time of famine, and the only reason they were prepared  was because Joseph had revealed to Pharaoh that he should store up food in the days of plenty, so that Egypt would have enough when times got hard. By the way, that’s not a bad idea for us, either.

At any rate, when the brothers finally come to Egypt, their little brother is no longer a slave; he is the prime minister of all of Egypt. However, it took a long times and a lot of hardship before Joseph was elevated by God to this prominent position. I am sure that there were times in those many years that he doubted God; but he never wavered. Joseph remained faithful to God. In God’s time, Joseph was delivered from his brothers, from the bondage, from the prison, and from the humiliation of it all; and all of the world could see that Joseph was God’s man. Though, Joseph certainly did not enjoy all of the days of trial and affliction, I bet that at the end of his life he would say that it was all worth what God finally gave him.

We sing a song that says “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus”. I bet when Joseph hears us singing that song from his vantage point in Heaven, he says “Amen. It was worth it all”.

Stay faithful to God. You may be in Pharaoh’s dungeon right now, but if you are a child of God, I promise you, that He will some day pull you out of that awful place. Trust God. He has a purpose and a plan for it all. God doesn’t often fill us in about all of the details of His sovereign plan, but we can trust that He will work it all out in the end.

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” – (Romans 8:18)

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” – (Romans 8:28)

“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” – (Isaiah 40:31)

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Moving Forward

Today’s Passage – Genesis 29 – 30 

(Second Milers also read –Matthew 21 – 22; Proverbs 11; Psalms 51 – 55)

“And the man increased exceedingly, and had much cattle, and maidservants, and menservants, and camels, and asses.” – (Genesis 30:43)

“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” – (Philippians 3:13-14)

Our passage today reveals the blessing of God upon the life of Jacob. Jacob was a man who was certainly not always deserving of the abundant favor of God upon his work and his family, yet God always took good care of him. In chapter 30, we see God increasing the livestock of Jacob. Notice in vv. 37 – 42 that Jacob devises a peculiar and rather devious plan in order to make sure that his cattle prosper. However, I do not believe that Jacob’s “scientific” methods were the reason for the increase. It was God that had His hand upon Jacob’s life. I believe that God blessed Jacob the way He did because God saw the big picture. He was not blessing Jacob because of the things that Jacob had done in the past to deserve the blessing, because Jacob really hadn’t done anything yet. Up until this point, Jacob is mostly a deceptive person who takes matters into his own hands rather than place his trust in God. However, God saw what Jacob would become. God will change his name from Jacob (which means trickster or deceiver) to Israel, which means a prince with God. God was going to do something someday with Jacob. He saw what Jacob would become.

When we look at people, we also need to look past what they have been in the past, and even what they may be right now, and we need instead to try to see what they could be in the future. God has a wonderful tendency to make something marvelous out of ordinary, sinful people like us. In order to do this God has chosen to forget about the sins that we have committed in the past, and He even chooses not to “impute”, or record the sins of today and tomorrow. God had a plan for Jacob in the future that was not yet apparent at this point in Jacob’s life. I bet God has a plan for us too. If God chooses to see what we can and will be tomorrow, why don’t we do the same thing. Let’s not let the past bog us down, and cause to stay where we are. Let’s move forward into that abundant life of God’s blessing.

There is a passage of Scripture regarding Abraham that supports this thought:

“For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.” – (Genesis 18:19)

Notice in this verse that God knows some good things about Abraham, yet the things that He knows are all in Abraham’s future. God reveals His plan to Abraham, not based upon what He remembers about Abraham’s past, but what He sees in Abraham’s future. God saw what Abraham would be, and He did’t choose to remember any of the failures in Abraham’s past. We need to develop our spiritual eyesight so that we can see the possibilities of someone’s future rather than dwelling on what they were in the past. We have to learn to see people as God sees them.

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The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree

Today’s Passages – Genesis 25 – 26 

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 17 – 18; Proverbs 9; Psalms 41 – 45)

And the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said,

She is my sister: for he feared to say,

She is my wife; lest, said he, the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah;

because she was fair to look upon.” – (Genesis 26:7)

In order for you to fully understand this morning’s thought, you might want to go back and read Genesis chapter twenty. If this account of Isaac lying about the true identity of his wife sounds familiar to you, it is because we read back in Genesis 20 that his father, Abraham, did the exact same thing to Abimelech. It appears that the apple doesn’t fall very far the tree. Isaac apparently had picked up some of his father’s bad habits.

There is an old expression which states that parents don’t get what they want in child-rearing, they get what they are. I have observed that to be true. Our children definitely begin to emulate our values, character traits, and even our mannerisms. As a school teacher, I have closely observed the children in  my charge, and it is amazing how much the children are like their parents. It’s kind of scary to think that we are also passing on our bad habits. Isaac learned how to lie from his dad.

As parents, we must be very careful to remember that our children are always watching us; almost analyzing us. They mistakenly think that everything we do is right, so they have no reason not to mimic who we are. Even later when they are taught with words regarding bad behavior, the message that they received from the life of the parent will often leave a stronger impression. Parents, and mentors, need to be very careful to watch their own behavior, especially around those young ones that are so impressionable. We need to be what we want them to be. Be the right example to your children.

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Gardens and Green Grass; or God’s Will

Today’s Passage – Genesis 13 – 16 

(Second Milers also read –Matthew 9 – 10; Proverbs 5; Psalms 21 – 25)

“And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.” (Genesis 13:10)

“But the men of Sodom were wicked before the Lord exceedingly” (Genesis 13:13)

The story of Lot is really a sad one. Lot came from the same stock as Abraham, lived in the same places, seemingly had the same training and influences; yet Lot had dreams and desires that were diametrically opposite to those of Abraham. In the account given us here in Genesis 13, we see Abraham and Lot both returning from a time of sojourning in Egypt. Egypt was certainly a busy place: people on top of people; culture; education; and pleasures: more pleasure than Lot had ever seen. Abraham had his fill of the big city. He wanted to get back to place in Canaan where he built an altar for the Lord: the place where God promised to bless him. You see, Abraham finally realized that he didn’t need all of the excitement of the big city: he just needed God.

Not long after they returned to Canaan, the land of promise, it seems that Lot and Abraham began to fuss about the size of land their cattle were grazing on, whether or not it was big enough to provide for both of their herds. These men were both already very wealthy, yet it seems that Lot wanted more. Maybe he was tired of living under the shadow of Uncle Abraham. Maybe he didn’t like all of those righteous rules that Abraham governed his home by. Lot missed Egypt: he missed the exhilaration of the city life. Abraham senses Lot’s frustration and offers to let Lot separate from him. I am sure he divided up the livestock, and sent Lot away with plenty. He also gives Lot the pick of the surrounding land. He told Lot that if he chose east, he would go west. You see, Abraham didn’t need what this earth could offer him: he only needed God. It seems that he had learned much from the error of his previous move into Egypt.

Lot, however, decides that Sodom is the place he ought to raise his family. I believe that there were three attractions that lured Lot to Sodom:

1      There were lots of people in Sodom. Now there is nothing wrong with people. I love people and, more importantly, God loves people. Jesus died to save people. However, it seems that whenever you get a lot of people grouped together in one place, wickedness just pours right in. Verse 13 tells us that Sodom was an exceedingly wicked place. Lot should have been repulsed by it, yet instead he was enamored by it. By the way, his attraction to this large number of people was clearly not for the purpose of evangelizing them. We will learn later in chapter 19 that Lot influences no one in the city for God.

2      There was a lot of pleasure in Sodom. He said it reminded him of Egypt. The Bible tells us that there is pleasure in sin for a season; but the wages of that kind of pleasure is death. Lot was attracted to the fast life.

3      Thirdly, we see that Sodom was a place of wealth and prosperity. There was plenty of money in Sodom. It was well watered.  The livestock would do well there. Lot saw the chance to make some good money: maybe even a little more than ole Uncle Abe. Again, there is nothing wrong with money. I like what money can buy; but the love of money is the root of all evil. Lot wasn’t really concerned with the wickedness because all he could see was the dollars.

Through the years, I have seen a lot of saved people (remember, the Bible calls him “just Lot”) make the same mistake that Lot made.  They leave the place of blessing where God is protecting them and providing for them, only to trade it in for a place where they think the grass is “well-watered” My pastor in Bible College used to say that the grass may look greener, but it just might be artificial turf. Be very careful that you stay inside the perfect will of God. Don’t trade in the spiritual, eternal blessings for the temporary pleasures of this world.

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Don’t Move – Unless God Moves You

Today’s Passage – Genesis 10 – 12 

“And Abraham journeyed, going on still toward the south” (Genesis 12:9)

There has only been two times in my life that God has clearly revealed His perfect will to me. I am not referring to the will of God that is revealed to all of us in the Word. What I am referring to is when God miraculously showed me where He wanted me to go and what He wanted me to do. The first time was when God showed me where to go to Bible College. I had been searching for His will regarding my training for the ministry and frankly I was not sure what to do. I won’t go into to all of the details, but after spending a lot of time in prayer, God made it crystal clear to me where He wanted me to go.

I will tell you a little bit more about the second time. I was in my last year of Bible College and the day of my graduation was at hand. I did not know at that time what God had planned for me after I finished. I had some thoughts about what I wanted to do, but I wanted to make sure that I was following God, not trying to get Him to follow me. I was out on my bus route in Texarkana one Saturday, and again I was praying about what to do. All of a sudden I thought about Pastor Charlie Clark, a preacher that I had known back in New Jersey. I decided to give him a call and ask his advice. I remember that he had once told me that he wanted to help start twenty new churches in south Jersey. Maybe God would allow me to be the pastor of one of them. I called 411, got his number, and then called him, and surprisingly Pastor Clark picked up the phone. I shared with him my dilemma, and after a long conversation, he agreed to help me start a church when I returned home. I later found out that as soon as he hung up the phone with me, the phone rang again. This time it was Pastor Dan Owens, the pastor of Jersey Shore Baptist Church. Pastor Dan had been called by God to become a chaplain in the military, and he needed somebody to take the church that he had started in Galloway. God used Pastor Clark to connect me with Dan Owens, and the rest, as they say, is history. I never candidated anywhere else, and I didn’t really candidate here at Jersey Shore. I just met with the pastor, and preached a couple of times for him; and upon his recommendation, the church voted me in. I believe with all of my heart that God, through those circumstances, revealed His perfect will regarding where He wanted me to go after I graduated from college.

Now I told you all of that to tell you this: it was thirteen years ago this week that the people of Jersey Shore Baptist Church voted me in to be their pastor. But before they chose me, God did. Now through these years there have been many good days, but there have also been many times of trial and testing. However, because I knew that I was where God wanted me to be, I did not quit. Though I have been tempted to do so many times, I did not move away.

In Genesis 12:6 – 8, Abraham entered into the land of Canaan, and God appeared to him and told him this was the place where He was going to bless him. X marks the spot. You don’t need to go anywhere else, Abraham, because this is the place of God’s blessing. How sad it is that in verse 9, Abraham is leaving the place of God’s calling. Verse 10 reveals that when a famine comes, he moves further away into Egypt. Do you know that God does not speak to Abraham again until he gets back to the place where God had told him to stay? (Genesis 13:14)

Christian, be very careful about the decisions you make in life. Things like where you live, whom you marry, what school you go to. All of the major decisions should be carefully prayed over, and counsel needs to be sought after. Don’t move unless you are sure you are in the perfect will of God. All of these decisions have long-term consequences. Make sure you get it right.  And once you find God’s perfect plan for your life, don’t move, unless you are absolutely sure that God is moving you.

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He Is Still Creating Me

Today’s Passage – Genesis 1 – 3

(Second Milers also read – Mathew 1 – 2; Proverbs 1; Psalms 1 – 5)

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” (Genesis 1:1-5)

Before I share my thought from this morning’s Bible reading passage, I would like to make perfectly clear something that I believe to be very important. I believe that the Scriptures teach that the earth was created in six literal days and that it is also a very young earth, existing only for thousands of years, not billions as the evolutionist often tell us. The reason that I wanted clarify my position on creation is because I didn’t want there to be any doubt about it as I develop the following thought from these first five verses in Genesis.

Genesis 1:2 teaches, “the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep, which means that in the beginning of the creation process, on the first day, the earth was incomplete. God would develop the earth into a beautiful and finished product over the next seven days. I see a picture here in Genesis 1:1 – 5. Man in his lost state is incomplete without God. In fact, we know from the New Testament that man is actually spiritually dead in his trespasses and sins. (Ephesians 2:1 – 5; Colossians 2:13) Man is literally in spiritual darkness until the Spirit of God moves upon him and shines the light of spiritual understanding to his lost and  dark condition. When the Holy Ghost of God illuminates and brings conviction upon the lost sinner, he can then realize his need for the salvation that can only come through the Lord Jesus Christ. This does not mean that a person is saved automatically because the Holy Spirit brings him to this understanding, as he still has a choice as to whether or not he wants to be saved. John tells us that some men love darkness rather than light. (John 3:19) However, the Holy Spirit must move upon a person and Light must be given in order for a person to be saved; born again into the family of God. I remember very clearly the day that I trusted Christ as my Savior. It was literally as if somebody turned on a light, and I could finally see (understand) my need for Christ’s salvation. I finally “got it” because the Holy Ghost shined a light on my dark soul.

The exciting thing about this first day of creation is that it didn’t end there. There was more work to be done, and for five more days God continued to create. And, there is still a lot more work that must be done by God on the lost sinner after he receives the Lord Jesus as his Savior. The Holy Spirit will continue to move and transform the lives of those who become the children of God. God has been working on me for nearly three decades, and He is far from being finished. He will continue to work on me until He brings me into the very presence of Christ.

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2)

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:29)

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Savoury Meat

Today’s Passage – Genesis 27 – 28 

“And make me savoury meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die.” (Genesis 27:4)

This chapter of Genesis has always been a source of irritation to me. It is one of those passages where nothing is as it should be; and every character in the story is behaving badly. I will not rehearse the story as you can surely read it for yourself; but let’s examine the bad behavior of each character, and learn something from all of this.

First, let’s consider Rebekah. She is conspiring with her younger son against her husband. Right or wrong, her husband asked the older son, Esau, to go get him some dinner so that he could bless him. Rebekah did not want to see her favorite son, Jacob, lose the blessing, so she lies to her husband and works up an evil plan to deceive him. Wives, your husband may not always be right; but it is always right for you to submit to him unless of course he is telling you to do something against the clear command of God; and besides that, it is never right for you to lie or connive in order to get your way.

Now lets’s talk about Jacob. He was also clearly wrong. Although he did not want to do it initially, he was certainly complicit in the deception. He did what he knew to be wrong. He can not claim innocence because he was obeying his mother’s will. His mother was clearly doing wrong, and Jacob knew it; and he should have refused her.

In this story the one that seems to be the most innocent is Esau. However, we have already seen what makes Esau tick. You will remember that back in chapter 25, he sold his birthright for a bowl of chili (red pottage). Here, he claims that he was tricked out of his birthright, but he wasn’t. He gave it up willingly. Now he is trying to get back some of the blessing that comes with the birthright he already gave up.

Now we come to Isaac. At first glance it may appear that Isaac is completely a victim in this saga, but let’s carefully consider some things. First, notice how many times it states in this chapter that Isaac loves savoury meat. Now don’t misunderstand, I like savoury meat also. My wife just learned how to cook a bottom round roast with a high temperature recipe that really makes the meat tender and juicy. I love it. But when the Scripture emphasizes this point, it is telling us that Isaac’s appetite was the driving force of this whole story. I love my son, and I want to bless him; but my blessing him will not be dependent on whether or not he makes me dinner. Isaac in his birth is certainly a picture of Christ, but in his old age he seems to be a picture of the flesh.

Notice also in this story that Isaac is deceived because of his feelings. He felt the fake skin on Jacob’s hands and came to a faulty conclusion. How many times in our lives to we get messed up because we make decisions based on our feeling rather than on the clear will of God. If I only did right when I felt like it, I would rarely do it. We don’t come to church because we don’t “feel” good, or we don’t “feel” like it. Kid’s don’t go to school for the same reasons. We must do the will of God out of obedience to His word, not because of our feelings. It’s great when our feelings are in agreement with the Word, but when they don’t, we should follow God, not our feelings. Notice also that Isaac was dim of eyes. Now, I am not picking on his poor eyesight, but it is a picture of spiritual blindness. Isaac knew the will of God regarding his two sons. Jacob was God’s choice. Isaac didn’t particularly like the choice God made. Isaac preferred Esau because Esau fed Isaac’s flesh with savoury meat.

There is certainly a lot to “chew” on in this chapter isn’t there? Sorry I couldn’t resist.

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It Doesn’t Take Long, Does It?

Today’s Passage – Genesis 7 – 9 

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 5 – 6; Proverbs 3 ; Psalm 11 – 15

Read previous posts from this passage – “A Token” and “I’m Getting Too Old For This

Last night it snowed about 5 or 6 inches here in southern New Jersey, and when I got out this morning to take my walk I noticed two things. The first thing that caught my attention was how white and clean everything looked, which is quite the contrast from the dreary, dark browns that are the norm here in the winter. The second thing that struck me was the quiet. There were very few cars on the road, and most people were “hunkered down” in their houses. All I could hear for most of my time outside was the wind. With all of the people that populate our area, it is very rare to experience that level of tranquility. It was very cold, however, and the tiny ice particles that were still falling and blowing around were stinging my face a little; but, all in all, it was a wonderful time, walking with the Lord this morning.

Now for this morning’s thought:

“And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.” (Genesis 9:21 & 22)

In Genesis 7 we have the account of the flood. God was grieved because mankind had become completely corrupted, and their wickedness was great upon the earth. God decided to start over with a man who walked with Him, named Noah. Noah and his family are instructed to build an ark that will keep them safe during the deluge of water that is about to cover the entire earth. For forty days it rains, and everything that breathes air on the earth dies. All. that is, except Noah and his family. In chapter 8 the rain stops, and the water levels gradually decrease until, finally, the dry land appeared, and Noah and his family were able to leave the ark and start a new life for themselves.

Chapter 9 begins with God blessing Noah and his family, and God also promises that He will never again destroy the earth with a flood. He seals the covenant with the rainbow, which was to serve as a reminder every time it rains. Everything seems to be going well. Noah and his family have the opportunity to live in peace with the full blessings of God on their lives. However, when we get to verse 21, we see how quickly even godly men like Noah can mess things up. Here we see that Noah is drunk. This is the first mention of wine in the Bible. Theologians tell us about a law of Bible interpretation, which is called the Law of First Mention. This principle teaches that important clues can be gathered about a doctrine by studying the way it is first used in the Bible. Here we see the use of wine associated with drunkenness and other sins. Maybe, we should learn a lesson from this. The Bible will have much more to say in future chapters regarding drunkenness.

My point, however, is not to discuss the sin of drunkenness. I merely want to point out that man will quickly mess up a good situation. Adam and Eve did, Noah did, and we do the same thing today. It doesn’t take long for our sinful nature to reveal itself. We are two days away from the New Year. Many have resolved that this is the year that their lives are going to be different. Yet, most have already blown every resolution that they have made. We are desperately wicked people. Yet, for some strange reason, God loves us; and if we are saved, He doesn’t even see our wickedness anymore. Through the blood of His Son Jesus, God sees us, not as sinners, but as sons.

Don’t throw in the towel, however. You have blown in the past and you will blow it again in the future. Just get back up, confess the sin, and move forward. God knows your frame; He remembers that you are dust. Don’t let your failure keep you from coming back to God. He will always take you back. Get as close to Him as you possibly can. He will work in you, and make the necessary changes that need to be made in your life. He will continue to mold you into the image of Christ.

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In the Beginning!

Today’s Passage – Genesis 1 – 3 

(Second Milers also read – Mathew 1 – 2; Proverbs 1; Psalms 1 – 5)

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. – (Genesis 1:1)

“And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.” – (Revelation 21:5)

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” – (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Isn’t it wonderful that our God is a God of new beginnings? 24 years ago, almost to the day, God gave me a completely new beginning, and charted a radically different course for my life. God gave me a chance at that time to start over again with a clean slate. The awesome thing about our God is that since He took my sins away through the blood of Jesus Christ, my slate has remained clean (at least positionally).

I thank God for this new year that we are beginning today. I always look at the New Year as a time to hit the re-set button; a time to review the successes and failures of the year before and make the necessary adjustments in order to make the most out of the coming year. It’s kind of a new beginning. Last year is gone. 2014 is brand new, and we have the opportunity to strive to make this year the best one yet. Early this morning, as I was walking, I thought about the fact that so far this year I haven’t said anything or done anything yet that would displease the Lord. I am sure, however, that it won’t be long before I break my streak, but it is a good feeling to know that the old is gone, and today is a brand new day. Let us serve the Lord with gladness this year!

Tonight, we will be studying the Bible and praying together as a church. None of us have missed any church services yet this year, so let us all be in our place, assembling ourselves together for exhortation and edification. This Sunday, in our evening service, we will be casting the vision for the new year. We will unveil the new theme, and reveal some of the changes that we will be making in order to make 2014 our most fruitful year ever. Don’t miss it; and don’t miss out on the opportunity to make the necessary adjustments to your personal life and schedule in order to make a new beginning out of your own life in 2014.

Note – Today also begins our new Bible reading schedule. Please make it a point to carve out some time daily in your schedule to read the Word and to pray.

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Passed the Test

Today’s Passage – Genesis 43 – 44

(Second Milers also read – Mark 5 – 6; Proverbs 17; Psalms 81 – 85

“Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren. For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me? lest peradventure I see the evil that shall come on my father.” – (Genesis 44:33-34)

Joseph’s brothers, especially Judah, demonstrated to Joseph in this passage of Scripture that they had truly repented of the sin that they had committed in selling Joseph into slavery. Joseph put them to the test, and they passed. Joseph had to be sure that his brother Benjamin would be safe from his other brothers. After all, they did sell Joseph; how did he know that Benjamin wasn’t their next target. By putting his cup in Benjamin’s sack, Joseph had made sure that Benjamin would be staying with him in Egypt. Now all he had to do was wait and see what the other brothers would do. If they did the right thing, he would know that they had truly changed, but if they did not do the right thing, then at least Joseph would still have his brother Benjamin.

Judah, the third son, takes the lead in this dilemma. He is the one that speaks on behalf of the family, and he offers to take the place of Benjamin as Joseph’s servant. He explains to Joseph that if they did not return to their father with Benjamin, that the father would be overcome with grief. Joseph could not bear the thought of hurting his father, and since the brothers have come clean regarding their sin, and have demonstrated that they are not the same men that were, he will come clean with them, and reveal himself to them; and best of all, he forgives them.

I can’t wait until we get to the next chapter where Joseph will tell his brothers who he really is. And then will come the reunion with Dad! Great Stuff!

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Lead on Softly

Today’s Passage –Genesis 33 – 35 

(Second Milers also read –Matthew 25 – 26; Proverbs 13; Psalms 61 – 65)

“And he said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me: and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die. Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir.” – (Genesis 33:13-14)

In our passage today, Jacob and his large family are travelling back to the land of Canaan, and when they are almost to their destination they meet up with Jacob’s brother, Esau. Jacob was initially afraid to meet up with his brother because when he had last seen Esau 20 years prior, they were not on good terms. However, it seems that all is well between them, and now they will both travel along the same route to the land that God gave their grandfather, Abraham. The problem is that Esau is travelling with 400 men, and Jacob is travelling with his family, including women and small children; and he also has his livestock with him. Jacob knew that he could not keep the same pace as Esau, so he sent Esau on ahead. Jacob told his brother that he will “lead on softly”, at a slower pace, so that he would not put too much strain upon his family.

There is a wonderful lesson that can be learned from this story. Jacob knew that the people that he was leading weren’t capable of doing what Esau’s men could do, so he didn’t try to force them to perform at a level that was beyond their ability at that point. As a preacher, I have had to learn (sometimes the hard way), that all of the people at our church are not the same. They all have different gifts and abilities, and they are all at different stages of growth. It would be wrong for me to expect a babe in Christ to act as spiritually mature as someone that has been saved and growing for many years. Similarly, I should not expect someone  to perform in some capacity that is beyond their God-given ability. Everyone is unique. However, I do want to offer opportunities to our people that will challenge, and stretch them, but I must be careful not to put too much upon them. I thank God that He has been very patient with me, and has developed me on a timetable that was uniquely designed for me.

Parents need to learn this lesson as well. We shouldn’t compare our children because they are all different. Some will develop faster than others. They will all have their own individual strengths and weaknesses. We need to pray daily for wisdom from God as to what each of our children need at the level they are at today. Someday, they may be travelling with a band of 400 men, but for now we  may have to “lead on softly”.

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The House of God

Today’s Passage – Genesis 27 – 28 

“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 28:18-22 )

In our passage today, in chapter 27, we read about the messy family problems that took place in the home of Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, and Esau. Jacob is force to flee from his home in order to escape the wrath of his brother Esau; but something wonderful happens to Jacob when he gets away from home: he meets God for himself. Chapter 28 records the wonderful experience that Jacob had in a place that he called Bethel, which means “the house of God”. At Bethel, God would introduce Himself personally to Jacob: no longer would God be the God of Abraham or Isaac; now God was Jacob’s God as well. During their visit together, God reaffirmed the covenant that He had previously made with Jacob’s father and grandfather; and Jacob also commits himself to worship and serve the Lord.

Every Christian has that special place in their life where they first met with God. For me, believe it or not, it was in my 1986 Isuzu box-body truck. It was there in that truck while travelling across New Jersey, listening to Christian radio, that God first revealed Himself to me. That truck was my Bethel: it was the place that I first met with God. There have also been other Bethel’s in my life: places where God spoke to my heart in a special way. I have a place that is my Bethel today: a place where I daily meet with the Lord. Bethel is a wonderful place; not because of any natural attribute it may have, but simply because it is the place where God meets with us.

Do you have a Bethel? Is there a place that you can remember: a place where God first revealed Himself to you? Is there a place where God regularly meets with you today? Those are your Bethels, and they are wonderful places to be.

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From a Father to a Son

Today’s Passage – Genesis 25 – 26 

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 17 – 18; Proverbs 9; Psalms 41 – 45

“Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” – (Genesis 26:3-5)

Notice in the above verses that God told Isaac that He would be with him, and bless him; not because of anything that Isaac had done to deserve the blessing, but because that God had made a promise to Isaac’s father, Abraham. The son was being blessed because of the faithfulness of the father.

I have two thoughts regarding this passage:

1  As Christians, we are receiving an awful lot of benefit and blessing because of the faithfulness of the Lord Jesus Christ. We didn’t do anything to deserve salvation, and we didn’t do anything to deserve the joint inheritance that we have received, and will receive, all because of our relationship to Jesus. What a gift we have been given!

2  My second thought is a bit more practical than spiritual. The faithfulness and obedience of a father, will yield benefits that will pass down through many generations of children and grandchildren. It is a sobering thought, that my life today will have a great impact on future generations. I want my children and grandchildren to be blessed; I want the families in my church to be blessed. To some degree, the blessing that they will receive in the future is dependent upon my faithfulness today. For example: if I am a good steward of the money God gives me, I will leave behind a financial reward for my heirs. If I work hard to today to build character and faithfulness into my children, they will also benefit from that effort in the future. Again, it is my desire to leave behind an heritage of blessing for future generations; but in order for that to happen, I must work hard today.

Isaac had to learn to walk with God on his own, but Isaac had a great start that was handed to him by his father, Abraham. I want to be able to hand down some things to my children as well.

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