Bible Reading Plan
bible

Weekends: Read any passages of your choice or catch up if you’ve fallen behind 🙂

 
 
 
divider
 
How To Soul Journal
pencil
 
soulj
 
divider
Journal Entries
Every weekday you will find a journal entry here from someone different in our church family. 
 
Click the scripture title and scroll down to see a comments section where you can ask questions, share insights and post your own SOUL Journal entry for the day!
 

Daniel 1

 

Scripture

Daniel 1:17-20

17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.

18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. 20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.

Observation                                      

Daniel was selected to take part in training to enter the king’s service. The fact that he was selected meant that he had to meet certain criteria – young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed and quick to understand (v4); and, once selected, they were to be taught the language and literature of the Babylonians (v4), be able to eat and drink “from the king’s table,” and be trained for 3 years (v5).

Understanding

It sounds like it was quite special – in the eyes of society, at least – to be selected and deemed “qualified” to serve in the king’s service. And one of the “perks” of being selected was to take part in the royal food and wine.  But despite being chosen for the king’s service, Daniel did not lose sight of his being chosen for the King’s service…the one true King, that is.  It would have been easy to go along with and take part in what was approved, expected and encouraged by the king and his officials; but Daniel chose to be obedient and set himself apart – seeking “permission not to defile himself this way” (v8). 

As Christ-followers, we may find ourselves in situations that the world sees as “important” but we recognize is nothing compared to what God has called us to…or find ourselves in positions of servitude for Kingdom purposes that the world would consider inconsequential. In short, our priorities and motives differ from that of the world. 

Yet, in faithful obedience, we find God’s favor – which is ten-fold greater than that of the world.

[As a side note…it’s likely that with taking in more nutritionally sound food and abstaining from alcohol, Daniel and company were of clearer mind, healthier, etc. They had better/healthier habits…all which would lead to better results compounded after the 3 years of training. So, it would make sense that they would be much better off than their counterparts; yet, the glory is still God’s – because it came out of obedience to God. Rightfully so, it started and ended with God.]

Life Application

Dear God, may we place the cause of Christ greater than any worldly “perk” or status. May we remember why we are here – to know you and make you known, to further your Kingdom.  May we be willing to stand against the grain, set ourselves apart in faithful obedience to You, finding ourselves in the center of your will.  And, God, to You be the glory – for any earthly or heavenly reward!

To check out the discussion or to join in click here.

– Rei

*PS Honestly, the first thing that stood out to me were verses 12-16, from which I momentarily concluded that we should all be vegetarian! 🙂  But…I love double-doubles a little too much. Mmm…In-N-Out!  Happy end of fast everyone! 😉



January 27 – Faith Accepts God’s Provisions

 

Join us this evening @ 7 for a time of open worship at the church.  Come prepared to share a scripture, testimony, a song that blesses you (we will sing together).  I am looking forward to this time.

Scripture

  • Hebrews 11:28  By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the first-born might not touch them.

Observation

Here is the second of three things faith accepts. This is the positive side of making right decisions. True faith accepts the Lord’s provision as well as His plan.

The tenth and last plague that God sent on the Egyptians was the death of all first-born (Ex. 11:5). To protect the Israelites from this plague the Passover was instituted, in which a lamb’s blood was sprinkled on the doorposts and lintels of their houses (12:7). Obviously the blood itself had no power to stave off the death angel, but sprinkling it as God had commanded was an act of faith and obedience and the blood was symbolic of Christ’s sacrifice by which He conquered death for all who believe in Him. The people of Israel, including Moses, did not understand the full significance of the ceremony, but they knew it was part of God’s plan. God required it and they obeyed. Moses accepted God’s provision. Faith always accepts God’s provision, no matter how strange and pointless it may seem to human understanding.

When a believer accepts Jesus Christ by faith, he accepts God’s provision for salvation. To the world, good works seem like a much better way to please God than faith. But the world’s way is not God’s way. To Him, “All our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment” (Isa. 64:6). Faith accepts Christ’s righteousness applied on our behalf. This is God’s way, and is therefore faith’s way.

Understanding

What is God saying to me?

Faith always accepts God’s provision, no matter how strange and pointless it may seem to human understanding.

What do you think happened to any Israelite household that did not accept God’s provision of protection?  They experienced death.

How many of us are experiencing death because we are unwilling to believe and act on it?

  • Our finances are dying because of your lack of action.
  • Our relationships are dying because of your lack of action to forgive and take the next step of reconciliation.
  • Our spiritual man is dying because you are not willing to seek and pursue God and give up the pleasures and plenty of this world.

Our victory awaits, our breakthrough is waiting for us to believe God and act in accordance to His Word.

Life Application

What will I do about it?

God I desire the fulfillment of your will and purposes in my life.  I desire to walk fully in your promises, so Lord I will press through for the breakthrough.  Regardless of all the reasons why your commands seem pointless and irrational, I will pursue them.  No excuses – my breakthrough awaits and I will not stop halfway. 

-Pastor Gary
 
Join the discussion by clicking here

Supplemental Reading: Psalm 149



January 26 – Faith Rejects the World’s Pressure

 

70 Hour prayer vigil begins today. http://signup.com/go/FQ69AW

Join us this evening @ 7 for a time of intercessory worship at the church.

Scripture

  • Hebrews 11:27  By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen.

Observation

The first time he left Egypt, Moses was fleeing from the pharaoh, who wanted to kill him for slaying the Egyptian slavemaster (Ex. 2:15). The second time he left Egypt, another pharaoh wanted to keep Moses from taking the children of Israel with him. In both cases he was in trouble.

In addition to his problems with the kings, Moses faced other pressures. For one thing, he was under pressure to preserve the prestige, pleasure, and plenty that have already been discussed. The prospects of desert living could not have been very appealing. When he fled for his life, he had no idea that he would marry a shepherdess and tend her father’s sheep for the next forty years in Midian. But at best, he knew life in the desert could not begin to compare with life in Egypt’s royal court.

The greatest pressure Moses faced, however, was fear, because of the wrath of the king. It is the same fear, though perhaps of a different sort and source, that believers may face on occasion. Fear is one of Satan’s most effective, and therefore most used, weapons. We are afraid of being thought different, or of losing our job, reputation, or popularity. We are afraid of criticism, often from people that we do not even respect.

Moses was doubtlessly tempted to fear, but he did not. He left Egypt with full determination to follow a better way.  He did more than simply leave; he turned his back on Egypt and all that it represented. He renounced it permanently. Moses forsook everything to follow the Lord. He was not thwarted or delayed or intimidated by Satan’s fear.

Fear is a great pressure, and all of us are tempted at times to bend when standing for the Lord requires us to say or do something that is unpopular or dangerous. But true faith does not fold under the world’s pressure.

Fear did not work on Moses, at least not when God called him out of Egypt. He knew he had an invisible but powerful means of support, as seeing Him who is unseen. He knew that, no matter what happened, whatever he had to face, he would be held up and strengthened and rewarded. He believed with David,

  • “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?” (Ps. 27:1).

When Moses wanted to leave Egypt the second time and take all the people of Israel with him, he not only met the resistance of the king but of his own people. When he first told them of God’s plan of deliverance, they were thankful (Ex. 4:31). But when Pharaoh made things worse on them every time Moses made a demand, they lost heart and turned against Moses’ leadership (6:9; 14:11-12). Now he had both the king and his own people against him. But he was afraid of neither. He continued to say what God wanted him to say and do what God wanted him to do.

Moses was the kind of man he was because he chose to focus his sights on God rather than on a monarch in Egypt. Yet how many times do we fall apart or back down in face of a much lesser threat. When we are afraid of the world, when we are afraid of what people will say or do, we are exposing ourselves to God’s displeasure and discipline for lack of faith. Faith rejects the world’s pressure, whatever it may be.

Understanding

What is God saying to me?

  • Hebrews 4:1-2 (NASB) 1  Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. 2  For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.

If we are going to fear anything let us fear that we will fall short of God’s promises for us and to us.  If we must live fearfully then live in the fearful wonder that God will accomplish His Word to us if we will couple His Word with our faith.

Life Application

What will I do about it?

The Word + Belief + Action = Profit to us

Remember that Belief and Action are the elements of faith.  I will allow God’s Word to profit me because I will act in obedience regarding it and not let the pressure of the world rob me of my victory.
 
 – Pastor Gary
 
To join the discussion click here
 


January 25 – Faith Rejects the World’s Plenty

 

Scripture

  • Hebrews 11:26 Considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.

Observation

Living in Pharaoh’s palace, Moses had everything material he could have wanted. He had more than enough food, possessions, and money. Discoveries such as the tomb of King Tutankhamen, who lived only a hundred or so years after Moses, have shown us how vastly rich Egypt was at its peak. Moses had access to a great deal of wealth, and likely had much in his own possession. He had all the things the world holds dear. He must have been strongly tempted to hold on to them; but he did not.

Considering involves careful thought, not quick decision. Moses thought through his decision, weighing the pros and cons. He weighed what Egypt had to offer against what God offered. When he reached a conclusion it was well-founded and certain. God’s offer was infinitely superior in every way. In the eyes of the world no reproach (being ridiculed and persecuted) would be worth sacrificing riches for. Yet Moses believed that the worst he could endure for Christ would be more valuable than the best of the world.

Moses suffered reproach for the sake of Jesus Christ, the true Messiah, because he identified with Messiah’s people and purpose. Every believer since Adam’s fall has been saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, no matter in what age he has lived. It is also true, therefore, that any believer at any time who has suffered for God’s sake has suffered for Christ’s sake.

God’s reward is always greater than the world’s.

  • “God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).

He supplies according to His riches, not just out of them. A millionaire who gives ten dollars to help someone in need is giving out of his riches but not according to them. If he gave a hundred thousand dollars, however, he would be giving according to his riches. Moses surely saw the reward of a blessed life, but the emphasis is best seen as being on the eternal reward.

  • “Better is the little of the righteous than the abundance of many wicked” (Ps. 37:16).

If we work hard and honestly and to God’s glory, and become wealthy in the process, fine. But if we set our minds on getting rich, we have the wrong motivation. If along the way God happens to make us rich, wonderful. If in His wisdom he keeps us poor, also wonderful. It should make us no difference, as long as we are in His will. It made no difference to Moses. For forty years he enjoyed the riches of Egypt. For the rest of his life, he forsook them, because they interfered with his obedience to God and would have prevented his receiving immeasurably greater riches when it came time for eternal rewards.

Understanding

What is God saying to me?

Remembering the words of an old hymn I used to sing as a kid. It was written by a Swedish royal named Prince Oscar who relinquished his title to marry a woman who had influenced his belief in God. After his abdication he gave his energy to serving Christ. Here are the words of the hymn…

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand

Refrain:
Than to be the king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame;
I’d rather be true to His holy name

He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He’s sweeter than honey from out the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs;
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead

Life Application

What will I do about it?

God I will pursue you more than the things of this world. Help me to keep my eyes on you because as I stay focused on you the things of this world begin to dim in comparison to your glory.

-Pastor Gary

To join the discussion click here

Supplemental Reading: Psalm 147



January 24 – Faith Rejects the World’s Plenty

 

Scripture

  • Hebrews 11:25 Choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.

Observation

No one needs to be convinced that sin is often fun. It can feed our pride, satisfy physical desires and appetites, and offer many other pleasures. But it has two characteristics that the world does not notice: it is always evil and it is always passing. And, no matter how temporarily satisfying it may be, its satisfaction is destined to fade. It has no good in it and it can bring no good to us, to anyone else, or to God. Any seeming good is both deceptive and fleeting.

Sometimes we wonder why unbelievers, worldly people, the grossly immoral, and sometimes even criminals seem to get along so well. They are successful, famous, wealthy, healthy-well-off in practically every way. On the other hand, many of God’s most faithful saints are poor, sickly, unsuccessful in business, and ridiculed. We want to ask with Job,

  • “Why do the wicked still live, continue on, also become very powerful? Their descendants are established with them in their sight, and their offspring before their eyes, their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God on them” (Job 21:7-9)

We want to plead with Jeremiah,

  • “Why has the way of the wicked prospered? Why are all those who deal in treachery at ease?” (Jer. 12:1).

Job answers the question when he says, “And suddenly they go down to Sheol” (21:13). They die and it is all over, except for judgment. They enjoy and get by with sin for a while, but only for a while. If we take James seriously, we will not envy the wicked, of whom he writes,

  • “You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you” (James 5:5-6).

But he precedes these comments with,

  • “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!” (5:1-3).

The wicked are going to inherit a “treasure” of judgment they do not expect. As Paul says in Romans 2:5-6, they are piling up wrath that will break loose in the day of divine judgment.

Moses knew God was calling him to give his life for his people. He had a choice. He could have obeyed or disobeyed. Disobeying had many attractions. Among other things, it would have been a lot easier and a lot more enjoyable in the short run. It is hard enough to stop seeking worldly things. It is even harder to give them up once we have them, and Moses had a great many of them by the time he was forty. We have no reason to believe that he was ever involved in any immoral practices, but he enjoyed the pleasures of an extremely comfortable life. He had the best food, the best living quarters, the best recreation, the best of everything that his age could provide. These were not sins in themselves. Joseph had enjoyed the same pleasures in the same place, while being perfectly obedient to God. But they would have been sin for Moses, had he decided to stay in the Egyptian court, and he forsook them for the sake of God’s call. He made a conscious choice to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, rather than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin. This was an act of faith. He believed that if He did what God wanted, he would be immeasurably better off in the end.

Understanding

What is God saying to me?

Faith, as one author puts it, is a long obedience in the same direction. We often feel that this life here on earth is long, but it needs to be compared with eternity. I know that this is difficult to do – think about eternity when the now is right here in our face – but the walk of faith requires that we have a long view.

God has called us all to holiness. He has called us to come apart from sin. We find it difficult because the world’s ways are pleasurable and fun and it seems like we are missing out. Obedience is not always easy, but in the end sin is much, much harder.

God’s way is not only for His own honor but for our own good. Satan’s way is for his honor and for our harm.

Life Application

What will I do about it?

Lord I’m keeping my eyes on You, following you. Let me not become so caught up and distracted by the prestige and pleasure of this world to the detriment of what you have for me in eternity.

1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV) 9 “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”–

-Pastor Gary

Join the discussion by clicking here
 
Supplemental Reading: Psalm 146


January 23 – Faith Rejects the World Prestige

 

Scripture

  • Hebrews 11:24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.

Observation

For forty years Moses had been a prince of Egypt, the wealthiest, most cultured, and advanced society of that day. He was therefore highly educated and skilled, as well as being a part of the royal court. “And Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds” (Acts 7:22). His formal education would have included learning to read and write hieroglyphics, hieratic, and probably some Canaanite languages. He had, of course, learned Hebrew from his mother. He could enjoy everything Egypt had to offer. But his training in Egypt never blunted his knowledge of the hope of Israel and of the promises of God.

When Moses reached the age of forty, he faced a crucial decision. He had to decide between becoming a full-fledged Egyptian, with absolute loyalty and no reservations, and joining his own people, Israel.

The deciding factor was his faith in God.

By faith Moses… refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. In all those years he had never wavered in his devotion to the Lord. Somehow God also indicated to him that he had been chosen for special service and that, from then on he would be an Israelite first and only. Moses knew he had a mission to perform for God and for his people.

In the world, fame always brings a certain amount of honor. If you are born into the right family or are a successful athlete or entertainer, the world will think of you as great, whether you are or not. If you have a lot of money, regardless of how you got it, the world will hold you in high esteem. If you have enough degrees behind your name, certain people will think you have arrived. The same is true in regard to political power and many other types of human success. Moses had most of these things, yet he gave them up.

From the worldly standpoint, he was sacrificing everything for nothing. But from the spiritual standpoint, he was sacrificing nothing for everything. He renounced the world’s power, honor, and prestige for the sake of God, and knew that for so doing he would gain immeasurably more than he would lose, for he was looking to the reward (v. 26).

The things the world counts great have nothing to do with what God considers great. He honors people on a totally different basis. He is not interested in what family we came from or how much money we have or how much education we have or what positions we hold. These are not related to His primary concerns for us.

Moses cared nothing for his Egyptian heritage or advantages. They were both pagan and worldly, and he had given himself to much greater things.

The world has little to offer compared to the riches and satisfaction of Christ. Moses gladly joined with God’s chosen people, though they were slaves, rather than take advantage of the prestige and privileges of Egypt and be unfaithful to God.

Understanding

What is God saying to me?

By faith Moses… refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.

Can you imagine what people must have thought?

To refuse to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter it meant that he gave up the right to be considered to be the next Pharaoh. People around Moses must have thought he had lost his mind. How many people must have hung their future on him and the pressure on Moses must have been great. His adopted mother was probably heart-broken and that surely put pressure on Moses as well. Yet he chose to turn his back on worldly prestige because he believed that God had called him to something else.

And Moses could have rationalized that he would have more influence as the Pharaoh – but God was calling him out of Egypt – so he left the applause of men for the rewards of heaven. He took the long view.

Life Application

What will I do about it?

When God calls you don’t be afraid to act in faith because you are not giving up anything, you are gaining everything – the pleasures of this world are for a season – the things of God are eternal.

-Pastor Gary

Join the discussion by clicking here

Supplemental Reading: Psalm 71


January 21 – Faith Accepts God’s Plans

 

Scripture

  • Hebrews 11:23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

Observation

To stem the population explosion among the Hebrew slaves in Egypt, the pharaoh gave an edict that all male babies were to be drowned in the Nile. To protect their newborn son, Amram and Jochebed first hid him for three months, and then put him in a waterproofed basket and placed him in the Nile near the place where Pharaoh’s daughter bathed. He was found by the princess and taken to be raised as her own child. Moses’ sister, Miriam, was watching and persuaded the princess to get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the infant. Miriam, of course, got her mother, who was then able to raise her own son almost as if he had been at home.

Moses’ parents, Amram and Jochebed, were not afraid of the king’s edict. They ignored the pressures and threats of the world when these conflicted with God’s way. Moses’ parents were willing to risk their own lives to follow God’s way. Their decision was clear: save the child, whatever the consequences. Saving Moses was more than their own will, it was also God’s will.

It took considerable faith to put Moses in the basket and to trust that Pharaoh’s daughter, of all people, would take pity on this baby, which she immediately recognized as a Hebrew. It also took faith to believe that, if he were adopted by the princess, he would be raised in the way of the Lord rather than in the occultic paganism of Egypt. From a human perspective, his parents had no way of knowing even that his life would be spared, much less that, for all purposes, he would be given back to them. Yet they willingly let him go, entrusting him to God.

Jochebed nursed Moses and trained him and taught him Israel’s promises from God—that they were to inherit the land of Canaan and be a great nation and bless the world. She instilled in him God’s promise of a great deliverer, the messianic hope in which Abraham had rejoiced (John 8:56). His mother helped build in him the faith that was to become characteristic of his life. She did not fully know why God allowed her son to be raised in the court of Egypt, within the very household of the one who wanted him and all the other male Hebrew babies slain. She knew, however, that this was in God’s plan and, unlike Sarah, did not try to adjust His plan to her own.

Trying to improve on God’s plan is more pretentious than taking a felt-tipped pen and trying to improve the Mona Lisa. Our scribbling would do nothing but ruin the masterpiece. God needs our obedience, not our help, our trust, not our counsel. He makes the plans; we walk in them by faith.

Understanding

What is God saying to me?

God’s plans are perfect. God’s plans are perfect. God’s plans are perfect. I must keep reminding myself of that. All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes. The plans God has are good, plans to give us a future and a hope.

So when things don’t go the way I envision (like the Princess finding the baby) I will trust God that He is at work. His ways are better than mine. His thoughts higher than mine. I will trust Him.

Life Application

What will I do about it?

I live choose to follow His plan even when I don’t understand and I will do so with a glad and thankful heart. God is at work in me and through me and I will find out where He is at work and join with Him, resisting the urge to invite Him to join me in my plan.
 
-Pastor Gary
 
Join the conversation by clicking here


January 20 – The Proof of Faith

 

Scripture

  • Hebrews 11:17-19 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac; and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, “In Isaac your descendants shall be called.” He considered that God is able to raise men even from the dead; from which he also received him back as a type.

Observation

The proof of Abraham’s faith was his willingness to give back to God everything he had, including the son of promise, whom he had miraculously received because of his faith. After all the waiting and wondering, the son had been given by God. Then, before the son was grown, God asked for him back, and Abraham obeyed. Abraham knew that the covenant, which could only be fulfilled through Isaac, was unconditional. He knew, therefore, that God would do whatever was necessary, including raising Isaac from the dead, to keep His covenant. He considered that God is able to raise men even from the dead. The thought of sacrificing Isaac must have grieved Abraham terribly, but he knew that he would have his son back. He knew that God would not, in fact could not, take his son away permanently, or else He would have to go back on His own word, which is impossible.

If Noah illustrates the duration of faith, Abraham shows the depth of faith. In tremendous, monumental faith Abraham brought Isaac to the top of Mt. Moriah and prepared to offer him to God. He believed in resurrection from the dead even before God revealed the doctrine. He had to believe in resurrection, because, if God allowed him to carry out the command to sacrifice Isaac, resurrection was the only way God could keep His promise.

As it turned out, because he did not actually die, he was offered but he was not slain. God provided a substitute. It was the fact that Abraham offered up Isaac that proved his faith. The final standard of faith, its real proof, is willingness to sacrifice.

  • “If anyone wishes to come after Me,” Jesus commands, “let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24).
  • “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Rom. 12:1).

When John Bunyan was in jail for preaching the gospel, he was deeply concerned about his family. He was particularly grieved about his little blind daughter, for whom he had a special love. He wrote, “I saw in this condition I was a man who was pulling down his house upon the head of his wife and children. Yet, thought I, I must do it; I must do it. The dearest idol I have known, what err that idol be, help me to tear it from Thy throne and worship only Thee.”

The patriarchs, therefore, held to the five great standards of faith:

  • its pilgrimage, in separation from the world;
  • its patience, in waiting for God to work;
  • its power, in doing the impossible;
  • its positiveness, in focusing on God’s eternal promise; and
  • its proof, in obedient sacrifice.

Understanding

What is God saying to me?

God is calling me to separate from the world by choosing to live by His ways and priorities – denying worldly pursuits for heavenly pursuits.

Having made that decision, it is easy for me to get impatient with God – after all I abandoned the world for Him so He better deliver – and I must come to grips with the fact that my timing is not His timing and my thoughts are not His thoughts.

Yet in the waiting I am choosing to believe in His promises to me and His ability to perform whatever He says He will, even if everything around me leads me to believe that it is an impossibility. And because I believe I live as though the promise is a reality.

Life Application

What will I do about it?

Psalm 130:1-8 (NIV) 1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; 2 O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. 3 If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? 4 But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. 5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. 6 My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.

-Pastor Gary
 
Join the discussion by clicking here
 
Supplemental Reading:  Psalm 55


January 19 – The Positiveness of Faith

 

Scripture

  • Hebrews 11:13-16 All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.

Observation

Not Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob, ever possessed the Promised Land. In fact it was almost 500 years after Jacob died that Israel first began to possess Canaan. All these died in faith, without receiving the promises. Far from being a lament, however, this statement is a positive declaration that these men died in perfect hope and assurance of fulfillment. For the person of faith, God’s promise is as good as the reality. His promise of the glory ahead was as encouraging and certain to the patriarchs as actually possessing it could have been.

These men of faith did not know what was happening. God had given them no inside information, no word as to when or how the promises would be fulfilled. He only gave the promises, and that was enough. They had a sampling of the Promised Land. They walked on it and pastured their flocks on it and raised their children on it, but they were not impatient to possess it. It was enough to possess it from a distance, because their primary concern was for a better country, that is a heavenly one.

In the meantime they were quite happy to be strangers and exiles on the earth. In the ancient world strangers were often regarded with hatred, suspicion, and contempt. They had few rights, even by the standards of that day. They were also exiles, pilgrims or sojourners. They were refugees in their own Promised Land. But these faithful patriarchs were passing through Canaan to a better place, and they did not mind.

The most positive thing about our faith is not what we can see or hold or measure, but the promise that one day we will forever be with the Lord. Christians whose faith does not extend to heaven will have their eyes on the things of this world and will wonder why they are not happier in the Lord. Nothing in this life, including God’s most abundant earthly blessings, will give a believer the satisfaction and joy that come with absolute assurance of future glory.

David declared, “One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord” (Ps. 27:4).

Job, after unbelievable trials, destitution, and illness, could say, “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:25-26).

This is the hope and the security of the believer—the positiveness of faith.

It is people of such faith that God blesses. He is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. Regardless of what we are in ourselves, if we trust Him, God is not ashamed to be called our God. The patriarchs honored God, and God honored them. Nothing is so honoring to Him as the life of faith. In fact, nothing honors Him but the life of faith.

Understanding

What is God saying to me?

This is where this issue of faith must really take hold for us – even if we never receive the promises as we envisioned, our hope and assurance is in God who will do what He promised.

Even if my sojourn through this world is not the way I expected it to go I am confident that God would have used me in some way to accomplish His purposes.

And there is no thought of going back to where I came from – I have burned the ships and there is only one way to go – pressing on the road of faith that God has me on.

Life Application

What will I do about it?

Am I okay if I never see the promise of God the way I envisioned it? My spirit says yes but my humanness squirms. I want God’s way as long as it is my way – but God I surrender my selfishness and ego-centric thinking. This is not about you pleasing me, it is about me pleasing you so that you are not ashamed to be called my God. I believe in You and I want to live that belief so strongly that you are pleased to be known as my God.

Father today I surrender my pride that drives much of my wanting you to perform these great things in and through me. Humbly I come to You for I know that you alone satisfy.

-Pastor Gary
 
Join the conversation by clicking the title link above or click here
 
Supplemental Reading:  Psalm 52


January 18 – The Power of Faith

 

Join us this evening @ 7 for a time of worship and prayer at the church.

SCRIPTURE

  • Hebrews 11:11-12  By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised; therefore, also, there was born of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.

OBSERVATION

Faith is powerful. Faith sees the invisible, hears the inaudible, touches the intangible, and accomplishes the impossible. Unfortunately, some faith is all talk and never really gets down to action. True faith is active, powerfully active.

Faith was active in the miracle of Isaac’s birth. From the human standpoint, it was impossible for Abraham and Sarah to have a child. Not only had Sarah always been barren (Gen. 16:1), but by the time she was 90 years of age she was far beyond the proper time of life for childbearing. Yet at that age she conceived and gave birth to the promised son (Gen. 21:2).

If we study Hebrews 11:11 carefully, I believe we discover that the faith mentioned here does not apply to Sarah but rather for her. Received ability to conceive means literally “to lay down seed.” A woman, however, does not lay down the seed that produce conception. This phrase, therefore, must refer to Abraham, making him the understood subject of the sentence. In other words, the verse could be saying that Abraham, in association with Sarah, received power to lay down seed. I believe the faith was Abraham’s, not Sarah’s. Through Abraham’s faith God miraculously fulfilled His promise.

  • Therefore, also, there was born of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. (11:12)

Abraham had children upon children, the whole of the people of Israel. Every Jew that ever has been and ever will be born is a result of Abraham’s faith. Such is the power of faith.

Abraham’s faith was in God. God’s promise of a special son and of innumerable descendants was the basis of Abraham’s faith.

  • Jesus said, “All things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23), and
  • “With God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26).

God’s power and will are on one side and man’s trust is on the other. Whatever we know to be God’s will, faith has the power to accomplish.

If God is unable to meet any of our needs, it is simply because we do not entrust them to Him. He gives us many things for which we never ask and of which we are often unaware. But many other things, especially spiritual blessings He has promised, we cannot receive because we are not open to them.

Paul claimed, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13), and he reminds us of “Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” (Eph. 3:20). God’s power is for us to claim according to His will. That the things claimed seem impossible has no bearing on the matter. The only hindrance to fulfillment is lack of faith.

UNDERSTANDING

What is God saying to me?

Sarah was beyond childbearing AND known to be barren.  She had most likely gone through “the change.”  It is no wonder that she laughed when the angel of the Lord said that she would have a child by that time next year – it was impossible.  But we have a decision to make in light of these circumstances – we must give answer to the question the angel of the Lord posed to Abraham and Sarah, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Gen 18:14)

Well?  What is the answer, is anything too hard for the Lord if He says He will accomplish it? 

  • Is provision too hard for the Lord?  Did He not say that He would meet all our needs?
  • Is forgiveness too hard for the Lord?  Did He not say that as far as the east is from the west He would remove our transgressions from us?
  • Is a life of peace too hard for the Lord?  Did He not say that He would give us peace in the middle of the storms of life?
  • Is protection too hard for the Lord?
  • Is salvation too hard for the Lord
  • Is anything too hard for the Lord?

LIFE APPLICATION

What will I do about it?

For everything that God says there is a partnership on our part that is necessary.  I must believe and obey. 
God says that He will provide but He requires the step of faith that says I will give to Him first.  I will give freely, joyfully and expectantly.
God says that He will forgive us as we forgive those who sin against us.
God says that He will give us peace but we must chose to walk in that peace and under His protection.
God says that salvation is ours but we must accept the gift, believe in His Son and confess our sins.

Nothing is impossible with God if you believe. Matthew 21:21-22

What is your next step of faith you must take in order to partner with God in fulfilling His Word?

-Pastor Gary
 
Join the discussion by clicking the title at the top or click here.
 
Supplemental reading – Psalm 42