January 4th–Sunday of Rest
Each Sunday, the devotional Bible I am following this year offers a time to catch up and reflect on the journey so far. I liked the idea and thought it was good. Catch up today and rest in the Lord. This walk is not a race. We are involved to build a relationship with the Lord and want to know His heart.
As I reflect on these first three days, I am excited at what I am learning and insights that I have gotten that help me on the way. God created the heavens and earth and man and then he took one day to rest. That day was man’s first full day on earth and he was to spend it with the Lord, enjoying creation and the loving God who created it for his pleasure.
I think about Enoch who walked with God so closely that God just took him to be with Him. The birth of a child to Enoch and his wife, caused him to begin to prophesy about the Lord coming again in judgment. He was 365 years old when the Lord took him directly to heaven–one of only two in the Old Testament who didn’t die physically! Oh, for that close a walk! In fact, this is just what we are to be ready for today in the rapture of the church at the last trumpet! Noah walked with God and rode the ark over the waters to a new world! What an exciting walk! The God we serve is worthy of our worship and service. It’s just a drop of worship compared to the oceans of his mercy!
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Revelation 22:20
January 3rd–Genesis 6-9
As I again read the story of Noah and the flood, I listened for God’s heart. He saw that the man that He had made in His own image had turned to wickedness instead of to the walk of faith God had planned for him. God’s heart was grieved and filled with pain. Our sin causes grief and pain in God’s heart! It also has consequences for us. Man has freedom of choice to choose his own path instead of God’s, but must accept the consequences. Sin always brings God’s wrath, His judgment, and ultimately death.
“But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” (Genesis 6:8) God’s eyes are always looking for a way to show favor and mercy! Thank God for that! His eyes are looking for any who would be humble and teachable that He might save them and bless them. God revealed to Noah his plans for judgment of a wicked mankind and a polluted earth. He gave specific instructions for saving Noah, his family, and the animals. Noah did everything just as God commanded Him.” (Genesis 6:22)
“In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the 17th day of the second month–on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of heaven were opened.” (Genesis 7:11) God did exactly what He said He would do on a specific day in Noah’s life! Jesus taught that it would be just like the days of Noah when God would again judge the wicked of the earth. (Matthew 24:36-39) This time it would be by fire! Is anyone listening? Could this possibly be true? The way of salvation for all who will believe is Jesus Christ! He is waiting patiently for all who will respond, but “a day of judgment” is coming!
“By these same waters the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” 2nd Peter 3:6-7
January 2nd reading: Genesis 3-5
I remember in my early childhood taking my dad’s pocketknife from the stand by his favorite chair and carving pictures on the bedroom door. It was great fun and my sister liked the pictures too. Dad and Mom were out doing chores on the farm and it was still dark outside. After a while, I knew they would come in soon and slid Dad’s chair in front of the door to try and hide the “sin”. I didn’t understand it but they caught on right away when they came in the house! I initially tried to blame my younger sister for being the instigator, but was found out! I was rightfully afraid of punishment and soon reaped what I had so unwisely sown. (That was before the days when spanking was termed abuse!) Genesis 3 came alive personally to me and I would bet every one of us has learned this lesson the hard way!
As I read this section of scripture, I am introduced to the “serpent” who was “more crafty” than any of the other animals that God had made. This “serpent” talks to the woman Eve. His words contradict or twist what God had told Adam and Eve. They are words designed to appeal to desire for that which is forbidden by God. The words appeal to pride and a desire to know what God knows from a source that God warns them would cause them to die. Crafty is the ability to “craft” a plan that gets around truth. It is a lie with some chocolate covering it. Eve is taken in by this “craft” and takes the forbidden fruit. She gives it to her husband who eats as well. She is deceived and he deliberately eats. They suddenly are aware of their nakedness and hide, covering themselves. Fear has entered with death and, rather than being clothed with God’s Glory, shame now clothes them with a fig leaf!
God is walking in the garden. He is reaching out to those made in His image. He is calling to them and seeking those who are now lost! He knows what they have done but is trying to help them get free. When they emerge shaking in fear, God asks them who told them they were naked and if they had eaten from the forbidden tree. Each answer is an attempt to blame someone else or God himself! No one wants to confess or admit guilt. Sin not only brings guilt and shame, but it causes fear of punishment.
Today, do a quick survey of your life. Ask the Holy Spirit if there are things you are doing that you need to take responsibility for. Confess them to the Lord and ask for forgiveness and cleansing. It’s the only way I know to get rid of sin and its consequence, death! “I ate it.”
The man said, “The woman you put here with me–she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Genesis 3:12; “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1st John 1:9
A lawsuit has now been filed by Michael Newdow, a California doctor and lawyer and atheist. His suit attempts to legislate against any reference to religion or God in the inagural ceremony for President-elect Barak Obama. He is joined by several humanist and atheist groups and has tried this two other times before during President Bush’s inagural events. He was defeated each time and expects to be again.
This again points up the dualist thinking that has entrenched itself in the thinking of our nation and even much of the church world. Mr. Newdow did not list President-elect Obama in the suit because he has the personal right to ask for God’s help. Mr. Newdow doesn’t want the unbelieving public to be exposed to references to God, such as “so help me God” in the oath of office. It causes him pain and suffering. Private faith and belief in God is alright, but it must not be practiced in public settings! Faith has been classified as something of lower value because it is private and based on religious beliefs that don’t have the same value as public ‘truth’.
This dualistic thinking has swept our country. Our education system, media and journalism, and politicians and many clergy have bought into it. They try to please everyone and end up displeasing God and helping no one. God’s truth is true for all men at all times. Our nation was founded on the biblical concept that “God created all men equal and with certain unalienable rights, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” We need Christians with backbones and a biblical worldview to work in education, media, journalism and politics and salt the workplace with this worldview. We are called to be salt and light to a lost and confused and double-minded world!
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” Matthew 5:13
Today’s reading: Genesis 1-2
The journey begins! May the Lord bless your new year and walk with you each step of the way!
I am so thankful that you have chosen to trek with me through the Bible this year. We are starting at the beginning and I just love these first chapters of Genesis. To think that Moses recorded this for us about 1500 years before Christ is amazing! According to Scripture, he was moved on by the Holy Spirit and wrote down a message given him by God. (2nd Peter 1:19-21) This record of creation is given to us by the only one who was there to witness it all! Without this record, we could only speculate about where we came from and why we are here in the type of world that we live in. In fact, that kind of speculation is what is going on with many intellectuals today who deny God exists or that He can be known by us. It is being taught in our school systems to our children and they are confused!
God made all that is simply by speaking! What powerful words! As He spoke, out of nothing, creation appeared! Psalm 33:6 states: “By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” We serve a God who breathes out stars, constellations, and galaxies that stretch out for countless millions of light years in every direction from the earth! (Recommended Resource–How Great is Our God by Louis Giglio)
Even more amazing is man himself! Man made in the image of God! Man created by God for a relationship! Man walking with God and sharing rulership of creation with God. The Trinity is implied here in the “our image”. God creating man as male and female for a relationship with each other is also noteworthy! His design has brought companionship and pleasure to man, who could not find what he needed with any of the animals! We are special and unique! Thank Him for your uniqueness and His purpose for your life. Invite Him to walk with you today and this year! It will be the most exciting way to begin a new year! In His Love, Pastor John
Then God said, “let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them.”–Genesis 2:26-27
Last night, I read an article that illustrates how our vision of life, values, morals and biblical truth as Christians clashes with the world we live in. There is ongoing debate about President-elect Obama’s choice of Rick Warren to offer the prayer at his inauguration. In this article, the writer is trying to portray the need for respect of the various religious beliefs represented in our nation. Muslims pray to “Allah” and Jews use the name “God”. Concern is being voiced that a Christian minister praying in the name of “Jesus Christ” would be offensive to some. Atheists and gay-rights activists are also not happy with Pastor Warren’s stand of faith and statements of biblical truth. How can we know which of these worldviews are right? Shouldn’t Pastor Warren yield in love to pray in a way that is inoffensive to others who believe differently? Shouldn’t President-elect Obama be true to what he says he believes too? Why are all these people unhappy about this seemingly insignificant choice?
As Christians, we should respect each person’s right to believe what they choose. God himself respects our right to choose. What we are seeing here is the secular worldview that says that what we believe personally should just be kept to our own personal life. It is only truth for those who believe it. When you are in public, you should act in a way that will be accepted by all. The idea is to be politically correct in the public world and still personally believe what you think is true. This two-tiered view of the world is not biblical! We should live a life that is true to Jesus Christ and His word, no matter what the setting. Our values and morals should guide our words and our choices private and public. These values and morals should be derived from God’s Word, the ultimate source of truth. Our goal is not just to please all men, but to please our loving Father by obedience and faith. Let’s pray that all who name the name of Christ will seek to please Him alone.
As we embark on this trek through the Bible and a new year, God wants to instill an understanding of Scripture and His view of mankind in our hearts and minds. He wants us to understand who we are and what we believe. He wants us to know that His Word is not just true for those who believe, but it is true for time and eternity. It is something we can base our life on that is a solid rock. As we read the daily news and hear the debates and feel the pressure to conform to this world’s thinking, we will know the truth and that truth will make us free indeed!
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Proverbs 14:12 Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “if you continue in my word then you are really my disciples. You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” –John 8:31-32
Another year is almost history! This has been a year of many changes in our own family and its members. My wife is no longer homeschooling and can now spend more time doing things she wants to do. The oldest of our two daughters still at home graduated from high school and is now a freshman at college. She is adapting to being away from home and in a Bible college dorm environment. Our other daughter still at home is a Senior and will graduate in 5 months and prepare for college next fall. Wow! Time flies!
My own life has had changes too! I have met a large number of people in our city who are believers and some who are new to walking with the Lord. I have had the privilege of praying with over 50 to receive the Lord this past year! Our church family has grown with about 30 new members and lots more attending recently. I am blessed by each one and pray that the Lord connects them to our family. I have also seen a number of friends and fellow travelers arrive at their destination of eternity with the Lord. We miss them but must go on here with a permanent change. I am also aging and the effects of time and gravity make changes on us all. Some changes are welcomed and others must be accepted and adapted to.
On thing for certain: 2009 will bring change too! Some will experience new birth, marriage, love, friendship, and job promotion and financial blessing in 2009. Some will experience losses of job, loved ones, friendships, or health and strength. As we evaluate our past year and begin a new year, it is good to reaffirm our faith in God’s goodness and ability to work everything for our good. He promises to always be “God with us”! He has plans that are for good and blessing, to give us a future and a hope! This may be the year of the ultimate change for all believers–Jesus Christ returning for His Bride, the Church! I want to be ready and working when He comes! I want you to be too! In His Love, Pastor John
“For the grace of God has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “no” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live godly and upright lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Titus 2:11-14
Greetings! How do we find our way in this world? Is it blind chance? Are there natural forces and laws that operate and bring about all that happens? Are we just a chance combination of chemicals that has resulted from years of time and chance? Were our ancestors apes or monkeys? Are we really much more developed than animals? Are our thoughts just the result of chemical reactions in our brains? Is there any real moral truth? If we were to listen to much of what our secular world is saying to us, these questions nag at us. Even as Christians, we sometimes have a very poor understanding of the answers to some basic questions concerning our identity, our purpose here, our ideas, values.
Many professing Christians live as though the moral values taught by the Bible were not true and absolute. They have many of the same attitudes and actions of the unsaved when they live among them day to day. There is a big gap between what the Bible teaches and the way Christians behave. Do they understand the Bible? Do they believe and know what God has said? Are our hearts set on God and His truth? These questions also come to me regularly.
As we trek through the Bible this year, I want to grasp God’s vision for mankind and for me in a new way. I believe that how we believe and think determines how we live. As a Christian, I should know who I am, where I came from, how I lost my vision of God and how to see Him clearly again! Let’s ask God for a fresh vision of the world. Our ‘worldview’ is one of the most important aspects of our life and determines how we live. In His Love, Pastor John
“and He told them this parable: Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?” Luke 6:39 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:18
Greetings! The men of my church blessed me with a “Tom-Tom” GPS and I am so amazed at what it can do! I can put in an address that I don’t know how to find, and it will plot a route there and then talk me through the route, telling me when to turn and which way. If I make a mistake, it will get me back on track, or calculate an alternative route that will still get me to my destination! It will also get me back home!
I was thinking about this when I sensed the Holy Spirit speaking to me about how He helps me each day! He is “God’s Positioning System”–“GPS!” He takes the Scriptures and helps me in several ways. He helps me focus on the right path to arrive at my ultimate destination–Heaven! He speaks to me each day giving me directions along my path and when I make a wrong turn, He gently helps me find an alternate route! I am never out of range of His powerful positioning guidance. He knows the latest updates on road and traffic conditions and all the obstacles to my progress! He can get me home each trip!
We must remember a few things when using our “GPS.” We must keep it “charged” and “on” every time we go out! We must listen for the directions and follow–they are never wrong with God! We must always set our “home” address as “Heaven”–we’re just traveling through here on earth! If you faithfully follow your “GPS”, you’ll always know where you’re at and be able to find your way home! In His Love, Pastor John
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, you will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.'” Isaiah 30:21; “My Sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them from my hand.” John 10:27-28
Greetings! As I considered a theme for 2009, I felt directed to a passage in the Gospel of Luke in chapter 24. The passage that came to mind was a story about two disciples of Jesus walking on the road to a town called Emmaus. It was the first day of the week following the crucifixion of Jesus. These disciples were depressed and confused as they walked along this road, talking about the events surrounding Jesus’ death. They were joined by Jesus, but did not recognize Him! Of course, they thought he had died and who expects to see a dead person?
Approaching them, Jesus asked what they were discussing. When they explained their discussion, Jesus chided them for their lack of faith and began to teach them from Scripture that this is what must have happened because it was recorded in Moses and the Prophets. He must have walked a long way with them, and when they arrived at their destination, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. They invited Him to come and have supper with them. As He broke the bread with them at the table, their eyes were opened and they recognized Him! It was Jesus! He was alive! Suddenly, He disappeared leaving them with hearts ablaze and new-found faith!
Since Jesus loves all His followers equally, would He not walk with us this year? Since He alone is the Word of God, would He share with us everything from the Scriptures concerning Himself? Could our hearts burn with love and passion and new faith? Would He break bread with us and stay at our house?
“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” John 14:13-14