The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From Tree

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

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

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

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

Read a previous post from this passage –  “From A Father To A Son”

“And the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said, She is my sister: for he feared to say, She is my wife; lest, said he, the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she was fair to look upon.” (Genesis 26:7)

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

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

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

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The Whole Truth

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

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

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

Read a previous post from this passage: God Will Provide Himself a Lamb

In Genesis twenty, we read that Abraham was up to his old tricks again, and not delivering the complete truth; this time to Abimelech, regarding his wife, Sarah. He told Abimelech that Sarah was his sister, which was technically true; she was the half-sister of Abraham, being the daughter of his father, but not his mother. If Abraham was to tell the whole truth, however, he would have had to declare that Sarah was his wife.

The reason that Abraham left out this important little nugget of truth to Abimelech here in chapter twenty, and to Pharaoh, previously in chapter twelve, was because he was afraid that these men would kill him in order to take his wife. This was certainly possible as these men were godless men who were both capable and willing to do whatever they pleased. However, Abraham should have trusted God. In both of these instances God protected Abraham and Sarah anyway, even though he had lied. In both of these instances, God also warned the men not to sin against Him by taking Sarah as their wife.

What is it about us, about our fallen, human nature, that we are prone to dance around the truth, either by outright lying, or by leaving out pertinent information? Is it because we, like Abraham, are afraid that we cannot trust God with the possible consequences of the whole truth? Even if there are real, potential negative consequences associated with telling the whole truth, are we not better off still declaring it? We need to trust God with the outcome. Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

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Couldn’t Find Ten?

Today’s Passage – Genesis 17 – 19 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

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

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 25

Read the “0106 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage –“Don’t Look Back,” “Abraham Did a Little Walking With God, Too,” “The Prayer of a Friend,” and “God Knows You.”

26 And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes. 27 And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which [am but] dust and ashes: 28 Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for [lack of] five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy [it]. 29 And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do [it] for forty’s sake. 30 And he said [unto him], Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do [it], if I find thirty there. 31 And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy [it] for twenty’s sake. 32 And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy [it] for ten’s sake. (Genesis 18:26-32)

This is a very sad story. God informs Abraham that He is going to destroy Sodom because of all of the wickedness that filled the city. Abraham was obviously very concerned because his nephew Lot and his family lived there. Instead of just intervening for Lot and his family, he pleads that God spare Sodom based upon the number of righteous people that live there. He actually haggles with God, eventually reducing the number down to ten. God promised that if He found ten He would not destroy Sodom. Abraham was relieved because surely there had to be at least ten saved people in the city. Lot’s family alone may have numbered more than ten (see Genesis 19:12 – 15). He had a wife, two unmarried daughters, and at least two married daughters who likely had their own children.

Sodom did get destroyed, however, because God did not find ten people within the city who were saved. God did spare Lot and his two unmarried daughters, but the rest of the city along with most of his family were destroyed when God rained down fire and brimstone upon Sodom. How sad! Lot was definitely a saved man (2 Peter 2:7), but he had very little influence for the Lord upon the people around him, including his family.

What about you, Christian? If you had lived in Sodom in that day; or if God was threatening to destroy the city or town that you live in today, would He find ten righteous people living there? I fear that many of us are just as poor in our testimony as Lot was. If we are going to reach our cities for Christ we are going to have to live the Truth as well as preach the Truth to our friends, family members, and neighbors.

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:18 – 20)

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

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Back to Square One – Almost

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

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

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

Read previous posts from today’s passage – “Balanced and Biblical Separation;”“Relationships are More Important than Riches;” “Gardens and Green Grass or God’s Will?;” and “Good Friends are Hard to Come By”

“And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai; Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.” (Genesis 13:3-4)

Have you ever made a decision in life that brought you down a path that you thought you were supposed to be on, and then, perhaps after traveling a long time and a great distance, you discover that the road you were on was the wrong one. Usually in those cases, you end up going back to the place where you started – back to square one.

In our text, we see Abram, Sarai, and Lot back in the area near Bethel, which was the place that God had originally stated would be the place of His blessing (See Genesis 12:7 and 8). Abram had made the bad decision to leave the place of God’s will because there was a famine in the land. He took his family and travelled into Egypt, which was not a good move for him or his family. A lot of bad stuff happens while they are away from the place of God’s will. But, thank the Lord, Abram had the good sense to go back to square one – back to Bethel – the place of God’s will. Almost.

I say, “almost” because Abram was not in as good of a position the second time in Bethel as he was at the first. Why? Because he and his family picked up some things in Egypt that were hindrances to God’s complete blessing when they went back to Bethel. For example: Lot developed a taste for big city life in Egypt. You will notice in Genesis 13:10 that Lot’s choice to move away from Abraham toward Sodom later on was based upon the fact that it was “like the land of Egypt.” Also, in Genesis 16:1 – 4, we read about Hagar “the Egyptian” that was given to Abram by Sarai to be his concubine. Where did Abraham and Sarai find Hagar? Probably when they were down in Egypt. The fruit of Abram’s union was a son named Ishmael who was “a wild man” (Genesis 16:12) who couldn’t get along with anybody. Ishmael and his descendants became a thorn in the side of the people of God for many centuries, even to this day.

It was great that Abram took his family out of Egypt and brought them back to Bethel, the place of God’s will; but it would have been far better for them had they never left Bethel in the first place. There are many applications that we can make in our lives from this story:

  • If you are not now in the will of God, get back there as quick as you can.
  • If you are inside of the perfect will of God for your life, don’t be tempted to leave it.
  • Before you make any major decisions in life regarding geographical moves, new careers, a potential mate, etc., seek God’s will through the Word of God, prayer, and godly counsel (Proverbs 11:14; 15:22; 24:6).

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The Land Belongs to Israel

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

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

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

Read the 0104 Evening and Morning devotion for today by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “Don’t Move Unless God Moves You“ and “The Beginning of Globalism”

“And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.” (Genesis 12:6-7)

But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.” (Genesis 17:21)

“And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD.” (Exodus 6:8)

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Depart, and go up hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it:” (Exodus 33:1)

“Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.” (Leviticus 26:42)

Biblically, there is no disputing the fact that God gave the land of Canaan to Abraham, and through Abraham to Isaac, and through Isaac to Jacob (or Israel), and through Jacob to his twelve sons, the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel. There is also no disputing of the fact that there have been other people groups living within the borders of Israel throughout its history, whatever those geographic boundaries may have been at any particular point in time. According to Genesis twelve, when God gave the land to Abraham, there were Canaanites already there. But that does not change the fact that, according to the Bible, God gave the land to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and his sons. You may argue that the Bible is irrelevant or even incorrect, but you cannot argue that the Bible does not teach that the rightful owners of Canaan / Palestine / Israel, or whatever you wish to call it, are the Jewish people. By the way, I wholeheartedly believe the Bible.

The question is this: will you follow the teachings of Scripture and side with Israel regarding their land, or will you take the position as many in the world are doing that the Jewish people have no claim, or possibly, just a partial claim to the land?

Another question you may ask yourself is this: if the Jews do have sovereign right to the Land of Israel as the Bible teaches, do they then have the right to choose their own capitol? I contend that they do have the obligation to recognize God’s choice of Jerusalem as the Capitol of the Jewish People and someday, according to the Bible, the Capitol of the entire world:

“Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain.” (Zechariah 8:3)

“Since the day that I brought forth my people out of the land of Egypt I chose no city among all the tribes of Israel to build an house in, that my name might be there; neither chose I any man to be a ruler over my people Israel: But I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there; and have chosen David to be over my people Israel.” (2 Chronicles 6:5-6)

“And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.” (Zechariah 14:16)

I wholeheartedly support President Trump’s recent recognition of Israel’s sovereignty, and his decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem. I believe that he is in complete agreement with the Bible regarding the Jewish people and their right to choose the capitol of their own land. I also believe the president’s decision will be a great source of blessing to the American people:

“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3)

I am thrilled that America has chosen to bless the Jewish people and the Nation of Israel.

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The Dove Flew Away

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

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

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

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

Read previous posts from today’s passage – “It Doesn’t Take Long, Does It?“; “A Token“;  “Too Old To Do Something for the Lord?”; and “The Law of First Mention Regarding Wine”

“And he stayed yet other seven days; and sent forth the dove; which returned not again unto him any more.” (Genesis 8:12)

I have a somewhat strange devotional thought from the passage this morning, from Genesis eight in particular. First, however, let me explain the context. In Genesis eight, the rain has stopped, and the water is gradually receding from off the face of the earth. Noah and his family are no doubt very excited about the prospect of soon being able to live on land again in a brand new world.

In verse eight, the Bible tells us that Noah released a dove presumably in order to see if the dove would find the water sufficiently drained someplace to roost. Apparently, the dove found no such place and returned. Seven days later, he released the dove again and the dove returned, this time with an olive leaf in its beak. This was exciting news indeed. Not only was there a tree out there somewhere, but it was alive and producing leaves. Seven days later, Noah releases the dove a the third time, and this time it does not return. It had apparently found a new home, and would await the release of its mate so that they could reproduce and repopulate the world with doves.

Here is my strange devotional thought from this passage. God had called Noah to save his family plus the rest of God’s animal creation by building an ark that would protect them in a worldwide flood. It took him a hundred years to build the ark, and then when the time came, God gathered all of the animals and Noah’s family into the ark. Noah spent a lot of time during this process in close intimate contact with his family and with the animals, but that was all going to end soon. The dove flew away and did not return, and soon Noah’s children and their wives would also leave.

God brings family and friends into our lives at particular times and for particular purposes. God may give a young couple children, and for eighteen or more years the children will live together with the parents and there will be a level of closeness and dependency during that period. However, in most situations the doves will fly away and not return. Oh, they may return to visit for a time, but it will not be the same as it was when they were living in the home. It can be very discouraging for parents, but this is the way God intended it to be. Children are supposed to leave, to fly away to do God’s will for their lives.

Sometimes God also brings people together to a specific geographical area for a particular purpose, such as a job or even in to serve in a local church. People may work together or worship and serve together closely for many years. But, eventually God will move some of those people away. My wife and I have been serving at Jersey Shore Baptist Church in Galloway, NJ for nearly twenty years. We have some great friends here. My children were reared here. I cannot imagine life without the people that God has brought into our lives. However, the reality is that God has moved some very dear friends away for a variety of reasons, and may very well cause some of the good folks that are here now to “fly away” in the future to do something else for Him in a different place. Or, He could call my wife and I to a different location.

Thankfully, we never truly lose our saved family and friends, especially in these days of technology and social media, but we do lose the closeness and camaraderie that we enjoyed while living or serving together. We simply cannot expect life to forever be exactly the same as it is now. God will bring changes of scenery and changes of people into our lives. It’s all good. The people that we are very close to now may be called by God to “fly away” and not return. That is His choice. Someday, we will all be reunited together in Heaven, but for now, we need to all find the place where God wants us to serve, and enjoy the people that God has given (for now) to serve along with us.

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Walking with God

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

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

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

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

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

The exact phrase’ “walked with God,” is used only three times in the Bible, and is only used in reference to Enoch and Noah. In connection with Enoch we are simply told that he walked with God and “God took him.” The Book of Hebrews shines a little more light on the subject:

“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)

Here we see that Enoch was translated up to God before he could physically die. We also see that “he pleased God,” which is a synonymous phrase to “he walked with God.”

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

Regarding Noah, the phrase “walk with God” is connected to the fact that Noah was “a just man and perfect and upright in his generations.” The word “just” tells us that Noah had a relationship with God through faith (Romans 3:28; 5:1; Galatians 3:24). This is further evidenced by the fact that Noah was “seen [as] righteous” (Genesis 7:1). As a human, Noah was a sinner and not perfectly righteous, but he was “seen righteous,” or justified by God because of God’s grace (Genesis 6:8), and Noah’s faith.

Though the exact phrase, “walked with God,” is found only in connection with these two men, Enoch and Noah, we find similar phrases used in connection with other people of faith throughout the Bible:

“And the LORD was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim; But sought to the LORD God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel.” (2 Chronicles 17:3-4)

“But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right, … Hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord GOD.” (Ezekiel 18:5, 9)

“Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.” (Acts 9:31)

“And they (Zacharias and Elisabeth) were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” (Luke 1:6)

“I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.” (2 John 1:4)

From these and others related passages in the Scripture, we can state that walking with God involves three things:

  1. Relationship – Have you entered into a relationship with God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
  2. Communication – God communicates with us through His Word, and we communicate with Him in prayer. In this new year, determine that you will carve out special time every day to communicate with the Lord.
  3. Submission – If we are going to walk with God, we are going to have to let Him lead. He is God and we are His children. Yield to His will and to His Word.

Let us start this new year off right by walking with the Lord!

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Two Become One

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

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

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

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

Read previous posts from today’s reading – “In the Beginning;” “He Is Still Creating Me;” “Let There Be Light;” “Just Don’t Do It;” and “Subdue and Replenish

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. … And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. … And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:7, 18, 21-24)

Genesis is a Book about beginnings. In these first three chapters, we discover the beginning of our universe and earth, with all of the living things, including men and women, created by God in those first six days, six thousand years or so, ago. Unfortunately, we also learn about the beginning sin in chapter three, which brought about physical death and a spiritual separation from God.

In chapter two, we see the beginning of marriage. God actually created out of Adam’s own body the perfect spouse for him. Had sin not entered into the world, they would have experienced a perfect relationship and a perfect life together.

Let’s notice a few things about this first marriage. First of all, notice that the woman was created to meet a need that God knew that Adam had. He was alone. All of the animals had mates, but Adam had no-one to experience life with. God states that Eve would be “an help meet.” The word “help” is a noun, meaning helper, and the word “meet” means suitable or appropriate. God made Adam a suitable or qualified helper. She would be able to meet all of Adam’s needs. She would be his companion as well as his helper, and she would bear children for him. I full realize that the description that I just gave is not popular in our culture today, but it is what is taught here in Genesis 2. You can either believe what God says, or accept the world’s position on the matter. Paul referred to this in his letter to the Corinthians:

“For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” (1 Corinthians 11:8-9)

Now before you ladies get mad at me, let me say that I do not believe that God created Eve to be inferior in any way to Adam, and I also believe that Adam, though created first, was designed to meet every need that Eve would have as well. Adam and Eve would complete each other. The man and the woman were each uniquely designed by God to fulfill the areas where the other may have lacked. 

The second point that I would like to make regarding this first marriage is that these two individuals were created to become “one flesh.” This means so much more than just the physical relationship, though physical intimacy is an expression and a picture of the married couple’s being “one flesh.” But “one flesh” means so much more. It means that the couple is together in every area and every decision is to made together, or at least with consideration to the other’s wishes. True intimacy goes well beyond the physical relationship and includes our innermost thoughts. My wife and I can often finish each other’s sentences because we know each other so well. This “one flesh” relationship should supersede all other earthly relationships, and no other relationship should be permitted to come between the husband and wife.There should be no secrets in a “one flesh” relationship; no separate bank accounts; no pre-nuptial agreements, just in case things do not work out. Marriage is an “all in” relationship. That is why it should not be entered into lightly. It is the biggest earthly decision that you will make in this life.

Today is the first day of a new year. Those of us who have been blessed with marriage should spend some time this year reflecting on the relationship that we have with our spouse. Ask yourself if your marriage relationship is a picture of what God intended by “one flesh,” or is it more of what the world would say marriage should be. We should all resolve this year to have a marriage relationship that paints a beautiful picture of Christ and His Bride, the Church. Consider what Paul stated about marriage in his letter to the Ephesians:

“Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” (Ephesians 5:21-33)

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Resolve To Be Transformed

Romans 12_2

Today’s Passage – Your Favorite Passage

(Second Milers also read – Proverbs 31)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – 1 John 4:7 & 8

Read the “1231 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

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

Tomorrow begins the New Year, which is traditionally the time that people make all kinds of resolutions regarding things that they want to see changed in their lives. Some want to lose weight, others want to become more organized, and some want to quit some bad habit; the list is endless. In the past, I would make many resolutions, but, unfortunately, was unable to keep many of them. This year, I have resolved not to resolve. You may be asking, what do you mean by that preacher? What I mean is: I have resolved to stop trying to fix the myriad of things in my life that need fixing. No, I have not thrown in the towel on trying to live the Christian life. On the contrary, I have discovered a better way to see the necessary changes take place.

This year, instead of exercising my will power to change things in my life, I have opted to turn the whole process over to God. I have figured out that the closer I get to Him, the more He begins to chip away at the things in my life that need to go. Let me give you a verse that has been on my mind a lot lately:

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)

This verse tells me that God actually works with our will. Our will is really the problem isn’t it? Paul said that the inside of him was no good thing, “for to will is present with [him]”. Resolutions are about our will, but transformation is about the will of God. We may desire to see things fixed in our lives, but then our will changes, and the fixing stops. However, when transformation takes place from the inside, God not only changes our will, but also implements the changes that need to take place.

You may be thinking: what do I have to do? This is too good to be true. I don’t have to do anything? God does all of the work? Well, you do have to draw nigh to God. He says that if you will do that, He will draw nigh (get close) to you.  In order to get close to Him, you are going to have spend more time with Him: reading His Word, and praying. You will also have to spend less time with the world. The world also desires to conform you to what it wants you to be. You see, the world will also mess with your will.  If you spend enough time pursuing the things of this world, your thinking will also change; your desires will change. The same is also true with God. Get with Him. Saturate yourself in prayer and the Word, and God will begin to chip away at all of the rough edges in your life, and you will gradually become a vessel more meet (fitted) for the Master’s use.

This New Year, you have some choices to make. You can decide to do nothing: throw in the towel, and wait out the return of Christ. You can also decide to make a long list of things that you want to see changed, goals that you want to see accomplished, etc., and set out through your will power, your tenacity, to implement those things. You may even be successful in fulfilling some of them. Door number three is the option that I am choosing. I am going to take some tangible steps this year to get as far away from the world and as close to God as I possibly can. Then I am going to sit back and watch what He does in my life. No goals this year, just God.

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The Great White Throne

Today’s Passage – Revelation 20 – 22 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 146 – 150Proverbs 30)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – 1 John 3:1

Read the “1230 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from today’s passage – “Behold, I Make All Things New,” and You’re Invited.

“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11-15)

These verses discussing The Great White Throne Judgment are perhaps the saddest in all of the Bible. In this passage we see the final fate of all of those people who lived on the earth but never received the free gift of eternal life by trusting Jesus Christ as their Saviour. This is a judgment for the lost and not for believers. Believers’ sins were judged by the Lord on Calvary. Believers’ works are judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Corinthians 3:11 – 15). The lost will be resurrected from their temporary holding place in hell. Note – this is the second resurrection (which actually brings them to a second death) mentioned in verses five and six. They will then be judged by the Lord at the Great White Throne and, being found guilty, will be thrown into the Lake of Fire.

If we as believers were judged for our sins we, too, would be found guilty; but, praise the Lord, Jesus was judged for our sins paid the penalty of death for them on the Cross. He died for all of these people here at the Great White Throne as well, but they never received Christ’s payment. If perhaps you are reading this blog today and have not yet trusted Christ as your Saviour, I beg you to do so today. You can find more information regarding the free gift of salvation under the “Are You Saved?” tab on the home page of this website.

Christian, thank God that you will not have to face a just and thrice holy God at this Great White Throne Judgment. You may, however, have to watch from the perspective of Heaven as those countless lost people are cast into the Lake of Fire for all of eternity. Some of those people will people that you knew on earth: family members, neighbors, co-workers, etc. People that you may have had the opportunity to share Christ with but didn’t. That is a very sobering thought, is it not? Please, while we still have time, let’s all get busy talking to people about the forgiveness that is available to them freely through faith in Christ. Let’s get back to passing out gospel tracts and inviting people to church. Let’s earnestly and boldly witness to those that God places in our path. Time is running out. We could be living at the time of the Lord’s return and then the time for telling people about Jesus will be over. We have to commit to winning souls to Christ while we are still here!

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