The Prayer of a Friend

Today’s Passage – Genesis 17 – 19

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 11 – 12; Proverbs 6; Psalm 26 – 30

“And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:” (Genesis 18:3)

Genesis 18 is a wonderful account which tells of the communion that Abraham had with his God. In the passage, three “men” appear at the farm of Abraham. We are not sure who all of these “men” are. Some have concluded that one of them was the Lord, and the other two were angels, which is certainly a good possibility because the very next chapter begins with two angels going to rescue Lot from the destruction of Sodom. I tend to believe, however, that these three were physical manifestations of the the three members of the Trinity. I could be wrong, but it is interesting that though there were three men, Abraham always only addresses them in the singular form as one. Nevertheless, the Lord and Abraham enjoy a sweet time of fellowship during this time. You get the feeling from the passage that they were not rushing to conclude their time together. A meal was prepared while the Lord waited.

During this time, God, no doubt, spoke to Abraham about many things; but one thing in particular that he told Abraham was that he would, in fact, have a son that would be born to Sarah. The miraculous thing about all of this is that Sarah and Abraham both are well beyond the child bearing years. Abraham and Sarah actually waited 20 years from the time that God first promised them a child to the time when their son, Isaac, was finally born. God is faithful to do all that He says that He will do in His time. During this afternoon of fellowship with Abraham, God reassures him again of the promise.

God reveals something else to Abraham during their time together. As Abraham was walking with the Lord as He was leaving, God shares with Abraham his planned destruction of the city of Sodom. God didn’t have to tell him, but He did. Of course, this got Abraham’s attention because he had a nephew in Sodom that he cared for. Abraham begins to intercede for the city of Sodom. He is begging God to spare the city, but his concern is really about Lot. The Bible tells us that Abraham was the friend of God, but here we see that he was also a good friend to Lot. God never promises to spare the city, and interestingly, He never promises to spare Lot; but He did say that He would spare the city if He had found ten righteous people there, which, by the way, He does not find. However, God does spare Lot and the family members that are willing to listen to Lot’s warning of the coming destruction. I want you to notice something very important, however, from chapter 19 and verse 29:

“And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt.”

Did you catch it? It does not say that God spared Lot because he was righteous, though we know that the New Testament speaks of him as being “just” (justified). It also does not say that God remembered Lot. It does say that God remembered Abraham. What did God remember about Abraham? He remembered Abraham’s intercession on behalf of his nephew, Lot. God spared Lot and his family because of the prayer of Abraham.

What a wonderful picture we have here of prayer. God communing in sweet fellowship with his child. God revealing something to that child that would be of concern to him. God giving that child an opportunity to intercede, to pray for that very concern. And then the best part: God answering the request of the child: not exactly the way he wanted it; but a wonderful answer none the less. Kind of causes you to want to spend a little time in prayer yourself, doesn’t it?


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He Pitched His Tent Towards Sodom – The Saturday Morning Post by Pastor Ted Stahl

Today’s Passage – 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 – 10Proverbs 5Psalms 21 – 25

Scripture Memorization for January – Philippians 3

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

Read a previos post from this passage – “Relationships Are More Important Than Riches

Read  “Be A Clutter Buster” by Pastor Paul Chappell

Good morning. This passage from Genesis chapter 13 marks the downfall of Lot, Abraham’s nephew. He would move into a city of exceeding wickedness.

He would lose his wife. He would father a child by each of his two daughters. He would lose everything he had.

“And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land. 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. Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left. And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.” (Genesis 13:7-13).

The beautiful picture of Christ’s love for His church has been trampled upon by three states: Maryland, Maine, and Washington. Illinois could be falling soon too. Lawmakers in several other states may consider the issue later this year: Delaware, Hawaii, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. The issue: the perverted, lustful union between a man and a man, or a woman and a woman. The truth about Homosexuality is found in Romans chapter 1…

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” (Romans 1:18-32).

God calls it an abomination in Leviticus 20:13: “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”

But there is hope. You see all sins can be forgiven except one. The sin of sodomy is just as bad as the sin of over eating, murder, or telling a lie. All sin condemns a person to death. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).

Jesus loves the Homosexual. He shed His precious blood to forgive the sin of Homosexuality as well as any other sin you can think of. If you are trapped in this ‘lifestyle’, you can be set free. That’s why Jesus came: to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). And, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (1Corithians 5:17)

Peace! (John 3:16)


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I’m Getting Too Old For This!

Today’s Passage – Genesis 7 – 9

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

“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 48 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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Walking with God

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

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 3 – 4Proverbs 2Psalm 6 – 10

Scripture Memorization for January – Philippians 3

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

Read – “Fresh” by Pastor Chappell

“And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.” – (Genesis 4:26)

“And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” – (Genesis 5:24)

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

When I was in Bible college, I was required to daily record the Bible passages that I had read in a “Walking with God” notebook. I also had to jot down a key verse from the passage along with an explanation of the meaning of the text, and what God wanted me to do with it. What does it really mean to “walk with God”? Is it merely spending a few minutes each day in the Bible, and recording some thoughts, or is there more to it than that? In our passage today, we read about two men who walked with God: Enoch and Noah.

We know quite a bit about Noah. We know that he was seen as righteous by God, which means that he was justified in the sight of God because of his faith in God. We know that he obeyed God by building the ark, and we also know that he was a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5). There is not much recorded about Enoch in the Bible. The Scripture says that “God took him”, which is very mysterious, but is explained further in the Book of Hebrews:

“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” – (Hebrews 11:5)

Enoch is one of only two men in the Bible who has not seen death. God took him (and later, Elijah) up to Heaven with him while he was still alive. That’s pretty cool! He is a type (or a picture) of the church, which will be translated up to God before the coming judgment of the Tribulation Period. By the way, Noah and his family are a type of the nation Israel, which will be spared through the judgment. Unlike Enoch, Noah endured the flood, but was saved.

Both of these men, however, walked with God, meaning that they enjoyed an intimate relationship with God through faith. Walking with God begins with a relationship. Notice in Genesis 4:26, the Scripture says that men began “to call upon the name of the Lord”. Your relationship with God begins when you call upon his name for forgiveness:

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” – (Romans 10:13)

However, walking with God means more than just being born into God’s family, it also involves continued communion with Him. Every relationship in life needs communication in order for it to grow. It is apparent that Enoch and Noah both spent time with God on a daily basis, communing with Him. You cannot walk with God without spending time with God in His Word, in prayer, and in His House.

Walking with God will also involve obedience. Enoch and Noah lived their lives in obedience to the will of God. If we are ever going to get to the place where we are walking in intimate fellowship with the Lord, we must learn to obey Him. We must surrender our stubborn will to His, and let Him direct our path.

Walking with God is a wonderful privilege, not a chore; it is a joy, not a drudgery. To think that the Creator of the universe wants to spend some one on one time with me, and also wants to use me in His Kingdom. What an awesome God we serve!


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Judgment Day

Today’s Passage – Genesis 48 – 50

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

Scripture Memorization for January – Isaiah 53

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

Read “Voluntary Pain” by Pastor Paul Chappell

“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 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)

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” – (Hebrews 9:27)

“But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” – (Romans 14:10)


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The Big Picture

Today’s Passage – Genesis 45 – 47

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

Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.” (Genesis 45:5)

“But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” (Genesis 20)

Joseph was truly a man of great spirituality. As I was reading through these chapters of Genesis, there was something that stood out: Joseph forgave his brothers. The fascinating thing about Joseph’s forgiveness, however, is that it was not requested by the brothers. The brothers do not actually ask for Joseph’s forgiveness until after the death of Jacob in chapter 50. I am not so sure that their motivation was exactly pure, either. They were probably just trying to make sure that Joseph would not finally get even now that Dad was gone. However, Joseph then will just reiterate the forgiveness he already gave them in chapter 45.

There is one more thing that I would like to point out regarding Joseph’s perspective on what hs brothers had done to him. He says in chapter 50 that, though the brothers fully intended to do Joseph harm, God allowed (“meant”) it for good. For whose good you might ask? Well think about it. If Joseph’s brothers had not sold him into slavery, Joseph would not have been strategically positioned to ultimately become the prime minister of Egypt. From his position there he was able to feed the people of Egypt and the rest of the surrounding areas; including his family back in Canaan. The “bad” thing that his brothers did was made “good” by God. In fact we can see through hindsight that God’s sovereign hand was in the whole thing; not that God caused Joseph’s brothers to sin against him, but that God could take their willful crime against him, and through his foreknowledge, use it for good and His glory. Joseph had the right perspective. He could see the “Big Picture”.

How do we look at the “bad” events of our lives. You’ve noticed I’m sure that life is full of “bad” things: bad people; bad accidents; bad health; you get the idea. The key to true spirituality is how you choose to look at these events that God has allowed to enter into your life. Maybe He’s trying to get your attention. Maybe He’s trying to teach you something. Maybe He is using you to glorify Himself in the eyes of somebody else. You may not understand completely all the “good” that God is doing through the “bad” things that are happening; but know this: God is doing something, and everything God does is good. And also know this: the tunnel you may be going through today may be very dark, but if you stick with God, you will eventually get to the light at the end of it. It’s easy to see the light when you get out of the tunnel; but the truly spiritual person will see the light through the eyes of faith when he is in the darkest recesses of the problem that has come his way. You will get out of the valley and back on top of the mountain; but you have to trust God. Remember, He loves you more than you love yourself.

Let me challenge you. If you are going through a trial in your life today, try to look beyond the immediate problem, and see the big picture. God is in control. He knows what He is doing, and He will make something wonderful come out of it. Contrary to the way many of us thing, the universe does not revolve around us; it revolves around Christ. His sovereign plan is the big picture.

“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)


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A Changed Man

Today’s Passage – Genesis 43 – 44

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

Scripture Memorization for January – Isaiah 53

Growth Points 005 by Paul Chappell – Thoughts on Separation

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

“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 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 quite 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 the father, Jacob; 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 quite 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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In His Time

Today’s Passages – Genesis 41 – 42

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

Second Mile Memorization for January – Isaiah 53

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 51

“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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Don’t Lose Your Head by Pastor Ted Stahl

Today’s Passages – Genesis 38 – 40

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

Scripture Memorization for January – Isaiah 53

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 48:1 & 2

Good morning. After reading about the butler and the baker in Genesis 40, I wanted to take a closer look at them.

Pharaoh was angry, and the Bible doesn’t say exactly why. The problem could be traced to the Chief Butler, and the Chief Baker. It could have also been because of something one of their subordinates did to anger Pharaoh. Leadership is responsible for those they are leading. Pharaoh was angry and had the Chief Butler and the Chief Baker thrown into prison. They must have been old too, because God’s Word tells us that your old men shall dream dreams; which is exactly what they did (I know – I dream all the time!). As God would have it, their paths crossed with Joseph who was able to interpret their dreams. Good news for the butler, bad news for the baker. And the dreams came to pass: the butler was restored, and the baker was hung.

God is angry at the wicked every day (Ps. 7:11). God tells us (the butler and the baker’s dreams) in His Word that there is none righteous, and for all have sinned and come short of His glory (Romans 3:10,23). Joseph was there to explain the dreams (Ephesians 4:11-12). God provided the only Way out (Pharaoh brought them both out of prison). The Chief Butler received Pharaoh’s grace, the Chief Baker did not (Genesis 40:20-22). They were both servants to Pharaoh: the wages of sin is still death to the non-Christian as well as the Christian. We should always want to please God in all the things that we do. And God made it so simple for us. A lesson can be learned from a conversation that the Lord Jesus Christ had with Peter…

“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me. Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved f0llowing; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.” (John 21:15-22).

When we do things like gossip, spread lies about people, or anything else to hurt the body of Christ, it angers God. If you have been hurt by gossip, or lies, or any other attack, God knows what happened. You need to pray for those who have done these things to you: they put themselves under the judgment of God. God knows how to chastise perfectly: He knows exactly what to do. As rotten as those who offended you seem to be, do you really want to see them chastised by God? Don’t you think it would be better if they humbled themselves and got their hearts right with God before the hammer comes down? Pray for them. Get back in church. Don’t lose your head. And as Jesus said, “…follow thou me.”

Peace. (Ecclesiastes 12:13)


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You Can Take The Fire – Prt 4 – The Saturday Morning Post by Pastor Ted Stahl

Today’s Passages – Genesis 36 – 37

Second Milers also read – Matthew 27 – 28; 12 Proverbs 14; Psalms 66 – 70

Scripture Memorization for January – Isaiah 53

Check out “Growth Points 004 – Sunday School Teacher Visitation”

Read last year’s post from this passage – “The Green Eyed Monster”

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 48:1 & 2

Genesis 37:23-24 say:

And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him; And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.”

Good Morning. Poor Joseph. Rejected by his family. Stripped of his coat of many colors. Thrown into an empty pit with no water in it. All alone, nobody around to help him. The pit he is in is just too steep for Joseph to climb out by himself. The only thing he can do is look up and wait for someone to rescue him.

Have you ever found yourself in a pit? A deep pit where all you can do is look up and wait? As you look up at the clouds high in the sky. Night falls, and all you can see are the stars so very far away. You are all alone.

You are not alone. There is still somebody out there who cares deeply about you. One who loved you so much that He allowed Himself to go through the same experience. Rejected by those He chose to love. Stripped of His raiment. Nailed to a cross to die alone.

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded. But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly. Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help. Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.” (Psalm 22:1-18).

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53).

And now we wait. It is bitter-sweet to have Melissa back home again. She has been in the hospital, and then a nursing home since December 26th. Now we wait. Waiting for Melissa to move into her new home – a mansion that her Saviour went to prepare for her. I tried to look around for God’s grace in all this, and it’s like looking at the sides of the pit – there is no way to escape. Then I realized – look up. God’s grace is there, and it’s been there all the time. There is nothing to look for, but a whole lot to experience. I have peace. My wife has peace. And Melissa has peace. Melissa says that she is soooooo ready.

It is great being a Christian, knowing that your final resting place is in heaven. If you are not 100% sure that you are going to heaven when you die, you need to know. 1John 5:13 tells us strait out that: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”

Know that you are a sinner. Everyone has sinned. As a sinner, there is nothing you can do to earn or work your way to heaven. The Bible says that: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: [AND] For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:10 & 23).

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8 & 9).

BUT, and I love the buts that are in the Bible.

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).

God allowed Jesus to go through all that was written in the Scripture above because He loved you!

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).

Do you know Jesus? Does He know you? Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23:

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

It doesn’t have to end that way for you. Come to Jesus. Jesus also said in John 6:37 – 40:

All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Come to Jesus: call upon His name to save you and He will.

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13).

Peace. (2Corinthians 12:9)


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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)

Scripture Memorization for January – Isaiah 53

Read last year’s post from this passage – “Boys Will Be Boys”

“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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No More Jacob

Today’s Passages – Genesis 31 – 32

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

Scripture Memory for the Month of January – Isaiah 53

“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 life”. 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 twenty 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)

Only God take something like this

and transform it into this


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A Vision for the Future

Today’s Passages – Genesis 29 – 30

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

Scripture Memorization – Isaiah 53

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

Read last year’s post from this passage – “Surprise!”

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

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 what 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)

Motice 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 Bride of Christ

Today’s Passages – Genesis 23 – 24

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

Scripture Memorization for January – Isaiah 53

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 25

“But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.” – (Genesis 24:4 KJV)

I just wanted to share a quick thought this morning from today’s passage in Genesis 24. I am sure that many of you have studied this passage before, or perhaps you may have heard a message or two on it; but this chapter is a wonderful picture of the Bride of Christ, painted by God in the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah. Consider just a few of the many pictures or types that we see in this passage:

Abraham is a type of God the Father.

The servant is a picture of the Holy Spirit who was sent into a far away country to find a wife for the son of Abraham. Notice that the servant is not named in this passage, which reminds how that the Bible says in the New Testament that the Holy Spirit will not speak of Himself, but will draw people to Christ. The servant gives gifts to the bride, which is a picture of the Holy Spirit giving us His gifts.

Rebekah is a picture of the Church, the Bride of Christ.

And, of course, Isaac is a picture of the Lord Jesus.

There are literally dozens of pictures, or types, found in this passage and we have only named a few of them. I am sure that you can find many more. How awesome our God is who can paint such a beautiful and acurate picture in history of the event that every Christian is waiting for: the rapture of the Church, when we will meet our Bridegroom face to face.


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The Prayer of a Friend

Today’s Passages – Genesis 17 – 19

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 11 – 12; Proverbs 6; Psalm 26 – 30)

Scripture Memory for January – Isaiah 53

“And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:” (Genesis 18:3)

Genesis 18 is a wonderful account which tells of the communion that Abraham had with his God. In the passage, three “men” appear at the farm of Abraham. We are not sure who all of these “men” are. Some have concluded that one of them was the Lord, and the other two were angels, which is certainly a good possibility because the very next chapter begins with two angels going to rescue Lot from the destruction of Sodom. I tend to believe, however, that these three were physical manifestations of the the three members of the Trinity. I could be wrong, but it is interesting that though there were three men, Abraham always only addresses them in the singular form as one. Nevertheless, the Lord and Abraham enjoy a sweet time of fellowship during this time. You get the feeling from the passage that they were not rushing to conclude their time together. A meal was prepared while the Lord waited.

During this time, God, no doubt, spoke to Abraham about many things; but one thing in particular that he told Abraham was that he would, in fact, have a son that would be born to Sarah. The miraculous thing about all of this is that Sarah and Abraham both are well beyond the child bearing years. Abraham and Sarah actually waited 20 years from the time that God first promised them a child to the time when their son, Isaac, was finally born. God is faithful to do all that He says that He will do in His time. During this afternoon of fellowship with Abraham, God reassures him again of the promise.

God reveals something else to Abraham during their time together. As Abraham was walking with the Lord as He was leaving, God shares with Abraham his planned destruction of the city of Sodom. God didn’t have to tell him, but He did. Of course, this got Abraham’s attention because he had a nephew in Sodom that he cared for. Abraham begins to intercede for the city of Sodom. He is begging God to spare the city, but his concern is really about Lot. The Bible tells us that Abraham was the friend of God, but here we see that he was also a good friend to Lot. God never promises to spare the city, and interestingly, He never promises to spare Lot; but He did say that He would spare the city if He had found ten righteous people there, which, by the way, He does not find. However, God does spare Lot and the family members that are willing to listen to Lot’s warning of the coming destruction. I want you to notice something very important, however, from chapter 19 and verse 29:

“And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt.”

Did you catch it? It does not say that God spared Lot because he was righteous, though we know that the New Testament speaks of him as being “just” (justified). It also does not say that God remembered Lot. It does say that God remembered Abraham. What did God remember about Abraham? He remembered Abraham’s intercession on behalf of his nephew, Lot. God spared Lot and his family because of the prayer of Abraham.

What a wonderful picture we have here of prayer. God communing in sweet fellowship with his child. God revealing something to that child that would be of concern to him. God giving that child an opportunity to intercede, to pray for that very concern. And then the best part: God answering the request of the child: not exactly the way he wanted it; but a wonderful answer none the less. Kind of causes you to want to spend a little time in prayer yourself, doesn’t it?


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A Token

Today’s Passages – Genesis 7 – 9

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

“I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.” – (Genesis 9:13-15)

I love rainbows. However, in recent years the rainbow has become symbolic of many things, one of which is a very ungodly lifestyle.  Actually, the rainbow was (and still is) a token, a visual representation of the covenant that God made with Noah, and all of the other living creatures of the earth, that the earth would never again be completely destroyed by a flood. It is interesting that the rainbow wasn’t placed in the sky for our benefit, but it served as a reminder to God of His covenant. I am not sure why God needs to be reminded, but He can do what He wants. Nevertheless, when I see those beautiful rainbows in the sky, I think about the wonderful promises of God. God never breaks His Word. Unlike us, He will always do what He says He will do.

God uses a lot of other pictures, or symbols, in the Bible that serve as reminders for us. The Lord’s Supper is a reminder, a memorial, of the shed blood and broken body of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. Whenever I partake of the Lord’s Supper, I am reminded that all of my sin debt was completely paid for by the Lord, and that I no longer am under judgment for the bad things that I have done. What a wonderful reminder. God says that because He remembers what Jesus did on the cross, He no longer remembers my sin. What an awesome thought.

There are other tokens in my life as well. My wedding band is a token. It reminds me (and everybody else) of the fact that I belong to only one woman – Cindy Erickson. I once had a friend that said that he would never think about cheating on his wife because he believed that his wedding ring somehow had some sort of spy chip in it that let his wife know everything that he was doing. I don’t know about that, but I do know that my wedding band reminds me often of my wonderful wife and the covenant that she and I have made before God to love each other, be faithful and serve one another until God takes one of us home to Heaven.

There have been many different kinds of tokens throughout man’s history; but the rainbow was the first. I love a God that never, ever, goes back on his Word. I have let a lot of people down in my life, but God has always been faithful to do what He says He will do; and the rainbow is a reminder of that. It’s been many thousands of years since the Great Flood, and it hasn’t happened since. It won’t either, because God said it won’t, and the rainbow is our assurance that it won’t. God will someday destroy this earth, and then create a new one, but He will not destroy it with a flood.


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Walking With The Lord

This is the theme for Jersey Shore Baptist Church for 2012

Today’s Passages – Genesis 4 – 6

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

“And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” (Genesis 5:24)

In our text we read about a man that is not mentioned all that much in the Bible: maybe a half dozen times; but we know that he walked with God; and we also know that God took him to Heaven long before his time to die. He has the distinction of being only one of two people in the Bible from the past that was “raptured” up to Heaven. Do you know who the other man was? I’ll let you research it if you do not know. Anyway, God took Enoch a few years prior to the flood of Noah’s day, and he is a picture of the believer today who will be taken to Heaven (raptured) prior to the Great Tribulation that will take place here on the earth in the near future.

My thought for this post, however, is not Enoch’s departure from the earth, but rather his walk with God. It is interesting that the phrase “walked with God” is only used twice in the Bible: here, and also once referring to Noah. I hope that some day, it can be recorded about me that I walked with God. One of my resolutions for  this New Year is to get closer to God: to spend more time with Him. Recently, I have begun walking early in the morning so that I can spend some undistracted time with the Lord. I pray that it continues to remain a regular part of my routine throughout the year. Don’t misunderstand, I also want to see some changes and improvements in my life this year, but I am completely convinced that the way to see real change occur in a life is through a relationship with the Lord that daily grows more intimate. I like what Paul said in Philippians 3:10:

“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.”

By the way, I know that I have been writing and speaking a lot lately about this theme. I can’t help it. It is in my head. I feel like the guy who just came back from vacation and can’t talk about anything else. I am excited about what God is going to do this year, and the best part about it is that I am not going to do the work; He is. All I am going to do is try to walk as close to Him as I possibly can; and just maybe, on one of our walks He will take me home to Heaven as well.

How about you? When was the last time that you took a nice long walk with the Lord? Have you been neglecting your time spent with Him? Why not determine that the one thing that you accomplish this year is strengthening your relationship with Him.


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A New Beginning

Today’s Passage – Genesis 1 – 3

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

Scripture Memoriztion for January – Isaiah 53

Read “Five Principle of Achieving Goals” by Dr. Paul Chappell

Check out the new Daily Devotional resource – “Rooted in Christ”

“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 wonderful that our God is a God of new beginnings? 22 years ago, almost to the day, God gave me a completely new life, 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. 2012 is brand new, and we have the opportunity to strive to make this year the best one yet.

Tonight 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 2012 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.


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Graduation Day

Today’s Passage – Genesis 48 – 50; Proverbs 19 (Second Milers also read Mark 9 & 10; memorize Colossians 3:16)

“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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True Spirituality

Today’s Passage – Genesis 45 – 47; Proverbs 18 (Second Milers also read Mark 7 & 8 – memorize Colossians 3:16)

“Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.” (Genesis 45:5)

“But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” (Genesis 20)

Joseph was truly a man of great spirituality. As I was reading through these chapters of Genesis, there was something that stood out: Joseph forgave his brothers. The fascinating thing about Joseph’s forgiveness, however, is that it was not requested by the brothers. The brothers do not actually ask for Joseph’s forgiveness until after the death of Jacob in chapter 50. I am not so sure that their motivation was exactly pure, either. They were probably just trying to make sure that Joseph would not finally get even now that Dad was gone. However, Joseph then will just reiterate the forgiveness he already gave them in chapter 45.

There is one more thing that I would like to point out regarding Joseph’s perspective on what hs brothers had done to him. He says in chapter 50 that, though the brothers fully intended to do Joseph harm, God allowed (“meant”) it for good. For whose good you might ask? Well think about it. If Joseph’s brothers had not sold him into slavery, Joseph would not have been strategically positioned to ultimately become the prime minister of Egypt. From his position there he was able to feed the people of Egypt and the rest of the surrounding areas; including his family back in Canaan. The “bad” thing that his brothers did was made “good” by God. In fact we can see through hindsight that God’s sovereign hand was in the whole thing; not that God caused Joseph’s brothers to sin against him, but that God could take their willful crime against him, and through his foreknowledge, use it for good and His glory. Joseph had the right perspective.

How do we look at the “bad” events of our lives. You’ve noticed I’m sure that life is full of “bad” things: bad people; bad accidents; bad health; you get the idea. The key to true spirituality is how you choose to look at these events that God has allowed to enter into your life. Maybe He’s trying to get your attention. Maybe He’s trying to teach you something. Maybe He is using you to glorify Himself in the eyes of somebody else. You may not understand completely all the “good” that God is doing through the “bad” thing that has happened; but know this: God is doing something, and everything God does is good. And also know this: the tunnel you may be going through today may be very dark, but if you stick with God, you will get to the light at the end of it. It’s easy to see the light when you get out of the tunnel; but the truly spiritual person will see the light through the eyes of faith when he is in the darkest recesses of the problem that has come his way. You will get out of the valley and back on top of the mountain; but you have to trust God. Remember, He loves you more than you love yourself.

“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)


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People Can Change (God Can Change Them)

Today’s Passage – Genesis 43 – 44; Proverbs 17 (Second Milers  – also read Mark 5 & 6; memorize – Colossians 3:16)

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 be not 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 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 in between 37 and 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.

In chapter 44, though, we see a change. 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 the father, Jacob; 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 Jacob. He even goes as far as to offer to take the place of Benjamin. This is certainly quite 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; our wills to Him.


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Are You Willing To Wait?

Today’s Passage – Genesis 41 – 42; Proverbs 16

“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.” (Genesis 41:40)

“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)

Just a quick thought from the Scripture this morning. How long did Joseph have to wait before God turned around his circumstances? I am not sure if the Bible tells us how long it was, but no doubt it was many years after God first gave Joseph the first dream that God finally put Joseph in that position of authority. He was enslaved, he was made a servant, and he was imprisoned. He did nothing to deserve the treatment he received. As far as we can see, there is not a mark against him in Scripture. He must have wondered when all of the bad things were happening to him: “what did I do?”; and “I don’t deserve this!” He must have been tempted to doubt the existence of God during these years, yet he stayed faithful to the Lord. He waited patiently on God, and God, in His time, delivered him. Did you ever notice, though, that God’s time seems to be a lot longer than our time. We seem to always be in a hurry. We want immediate results, and instant answers. God is not on our timetable.

Abraham must have felt the same way when he was waiting for Isaac. We know that he waited for more than twenty years. Twenty years is an awful long time. David must have felt this way when he was waiting to be recognized as king by the people. Twenty years before, Samuel annointed him; but the people were slow to do the same. He must have gotten antsy; he must have been frustrated and wanted at times to quit; but he didn’t. He stayed faithful to the Lord.

I am very impatient. I expect God to be at my beck and call. I forget that God’s universe does not revolve around me. Christ is at the center of the univers, not me. It’s all about His glory, not mine. Yet, in His time, God will still fulfill every promise He has made; and if I will stay faithful, God will glorify Himself through my life and reward me as well.


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The Green Eyed Monster

Today’s Passage – Genesis 36 – 37; Proverbs 14

“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)

Iago:
O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on; that cuckold lives in bliss
Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger;
But, O, what damned minutes tells he o’er
Who dotes, yet doubts, suspects, yet strongly loves! (“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)

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 tohis 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 their 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 my brothers. I bet that some of you have this problem as well. God blesses somebody in your life, maybe financilaly 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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Boys Will Be Boys

Today’s Passage – Genesis 33 – 35; Proverbs 13

“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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Savoury Meat

Today’s Passage – Genesis 27 & 28; Proverbs 10

“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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The Battle of the Ages

Today’s Passage – Genesis 25 – 26

Before I give you a thought from this morning’s passage, let me tell you how excited I am about the new series that we will be starting this evening (the Lord willing) in the Book of Proverbs. Since I have been a pastor here at Jersey Shore I have wanted to tackle the Proverbs, but frankly, I was not sure how to go about it. After praying about it, I have decided to do a topical study through the book:carefully examining each topic as we come to them. This morning I will be introducing the study by preaching on the Wisdom of God Through Solomon. I hope that those of you who are a part of the church will be faithful to study with us as we glean wisdom from God through this marvelous Book of Proverbs.

“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. 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, as many of you already know, 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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God Will Provide Himself A Lamb

Today’s Passage – Genesis 20 – 22

“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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Abraham Did A Little Walking With God Too

Today’s Reading – Genesis 17 – 19

“And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:” (Genesis 18:3)

Genesis 18 is a wonderful account which tells of the communion that Abraham had with his God. In the passage, three “men” appear at the farm of Abraham. We are not sure who all of these “men” are. Some have concluded that one of them was the Lord, and the other two were angels, which is certainly a good possibility because the very next chapter begins with two angels going to rescue Lot from the destruction of Sodom. I tend to believe, however, that these three were physical manifestations of the the three members of the Trinity. I could be wrong, but it is interesting that though there were three men, Abraham always only addresses them in the singular form as one. Nevertheless, the Lord and Abraham enjoy a sweet time of fellowship during this time. You get the feeling from the passage that they were not rushing to conclude their time together. A meal was prepared while the Lord waited.

During this time, God, no doubt, spoke to Abraham about many things; but one thing in particular that he told Abraham was that he would, in fact, have a son that would be born to Sarah. The miraculous thing about all of this is that Sarah and Abraham both are well beyond the child bearing years. Abraham and Sarah actually waited 20 years from the time that God first promised them a child to the time when their son, Isaac, was finally born. God is faithful to do all that He says that He will do in His time. During this afternoon of fellowship with Abraham, God reassures him again of the promise.

God reveals something else to Abraham during their time together. As Abraham was walking with the Lord as He was leaving, God shares with Abraham his planned destruction of the city of Sodom. God didn’t have to tell him, but He did. Of course, this got Abraham’s attention because he had a nephew in Sodom that he cared for. Abraham begins to intercede for the city of Sodom. He is begging God to spare the city, but his concern is really about Lot. God never promises to spare the city, and interestingly, He never promises to spare Lot; but He did say that He would spare the city if He had found ten righteous people there, which, by the way, He does not find. However, God does spare Lot and the family members that are willing to listen to Lot’s warning of the coming destruction. I want you to notice something very important, however, from chapter 19 and verse 29:

And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt.”

Did you catch it? It does not say that God spared Lot because he was righteous, though we know that the New Testament speaks of him as being “just” (justified). It also does not say that God remembered Lot. It does say that God remembered Abraham. What did God remember about Abraham? He remembered Abraham’s intercession on behalf of his nephew, Lot. God spared Lot and his family because of the prayer of Abraham.

What a wonderful picture we have here of prayer. God communing in sweet fellowship with his child. God revealing something to that child that would be of concern to him. God giving that child an opportunity to intercede, to pray for that very concern. And then the best part: God answering the request of the child: not exactly the way he wanted it; but a wonderful answer none the less. Kind of causes you to want to spend a little time in prayer yourself, doesn’t it?


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Gardens and Green Grass; or God’s Will?

Today’s Passage – Genesis 13 – 16

“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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X Marks The Spot

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 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 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 ministry, 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 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 nine 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 nine 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, 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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