Called By God

Devo Scripture: Acts 7:2-4; Genesis 11:27-12:9
Key Verse: “For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you.” 1 Thess. 1:4

My hard working farmer and I have an inside joke with the phrase “So I’ve been thinking…” When he starts a conversation with these words my candid response is typically “Uh oh, what am I gonna have to do?” More often than not it entails maybe 15 people for dinner in just three days (after I’ve already been grocery shopping for the week). Oh and making pies because I’m really good at pies. But if I start the conversation his typical response is “How much is it gonna cost me?” What?!?! Honey not all of my ideas cost you money…just some of them.

But as we begin our study of Abraham I can’t help but wonder, did Abram (as he is called in Gen. 12) have any of those “So I’ve been thinking” conversations with Sarai? I can only imagine there were a few. They lived in the city of Ur (186 miles southeast of modern Baghdad). It was a thriving city with opportunity for not only prosperity but honor. It was also a center of worship for the moon god, Nanna. Pilgrims would come from near and far to pay tribute to Nanna at the large Ziggurat towering above the city. Many worshiped the moon god, including Abram, his father, and brother (Joshua 24:2).

Think about it. Just 9 generations removed from Shem (the godly son of Noah) and already idolatry. If we don’t teach our children and grandchildren…it won’t take long. No, not long at all. Thank goodness God is in the business of justifying the ungodly (Rom 4:5). (i.e. Me and you for that matter) God didn’t choose Abram because he was a godly man. He was far from it. God chose Abram because he had a plan to bring salvation to all people through the offspring of Eve (Gen. 3:15), Seth, Noah, Shem, and now Abram. God was sovereignly working his plan. And still is to this day! (rest in that my friends…rest in that)

But it wasn’t going to be easy for any of God’s chosen vessels. You would think being chosen by God would mean life would work a bit more in your favor. But it’s that kind of thinking that gets Christians in trouble. What about when the going gets tough? What about when the hard things happen? What then? If we think being chosen by God means an easier life we’re gonna be pretty upset with this so called “god” we serve. Maybe instead of expecting a nice wide paved road we should expect an uneven path through a dark jungle with snakes, sinking sand, and slippery slopes around every corner. Maybe then we’d count our blessings a bit more. Maybe then we’d be more watchful for the lifeline’s God extends to us. Maybe then we wouldn’t be so lukewarm in our faith. Maybe then we’d be prepared and God could actually use us. Because being chosen by God doesn’t mean life will always work in your favor but it does mean God will always work in your favor. If you’re in Christ you’ve been chosen by God. And you can hold tightly to the fact “that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6; NIV).

So on one beautiful day in Ur (maybe it was a rainy day but we’ll say it was sunny), God began a good work in Abram. He appeared to him. (I can’t quite fathom that.) And said “Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you” (Acts 7:3). I can’t help but wonder at Abram’s reaction. Scared? Surprised? Hesitant? I would have been. Were there any introductions? “Abram I’m God. The real God. The Almighty One. Your creator. I set the moon in place and I keep it there. I am the Sovereign One and you shall serve me.” Or in his heart did Abram just know…this. is. the great I AM.

Then came the “So I’ve been thinking” conversations between Abram and Sarai. (Or so I imagine.) I wonder at her reaction. “Abram, did you have too much to drink? Is the heat getting to you? What do you mean we have to leave? Where are we going? What do you mean you don’t know? Did she have “go days” and “stay days?” (I would have!) Was she delighted or surprised that her father-in-law was so on board with the idea? For Terah maybe it was simply a fresh start. Gen. 11:28 tells us Haran (Abram’s brother) had died in Terah’s presence. No parent should ever have to bury a child, no matter the age. Staying in Ur could have meant daily facing painful memories. And leaving could have meant escaping them. So they packed up and left for Canaan. But when they happen along a place with the same name as his son (Haran) maybe it was just too hard to leave (Gen. 11:31).

So Abram stayed in Haran until his father died and God removed him from there (Acts 7:4). Did God appear to him again in Haran? We simply don’t know. But we do know that Abram obeyed. With the promise of becoming a great nation, blessing, honor, and protection, Abram entered Canaan at the age of 75.

Why? Why was he so willing to risk everything? To leave his home, his people, his family. Simply put, because God called him to do so. And what God determines will come to pass. When the God of the Universe calls you to faith it’s impossible to resist. I don’t claim to understand it. I simply claim the Scriptures.

Jesus said “All that the Father gives me will come to me…No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” (Jn 6:37, 44). Give praise and thanksgiving to the Father who has drawn you to Christ! We have not the power to bring ourselves from death to life, either physically or spiritually, only God has that power (Eph. 2:4-5). “Salvation belongs to the LORD” (Ps. 3:8). Ephesians 1:4 declares “Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world.” And Romans 9:16 states of salvation “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who has mercy.

It’s not because of who you are that you believe…it’s because of God. And it’s for a purpose. God has called you not so you can live however you want to and still go to Heaven. God has called you for a reason…just like Abraham. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before hand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). If you are in Christ…it’s for a purpose. For. a. purpose. God has plans for you! Yes, plans for you that bring him glory. Great glory. Right now. Right where you’re at. Whether you want to be there or not. He has called you. So my dear friends…let’s get to it! To God be the glory!

Contemplate and Evaluate
What do you think of the statement “Life will not always work in your favor, but God will”?
Do you consider your salvation a result of your own works or the very grace of God?
What purpose has God called you for? Is your life bringing glory to Him?

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Rightly viewed, Rightly worshiped

Devo Scripture: Genesis 11
Key Verse: “The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens! Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth?” (Ps. 113:4-6)

What we need today. What we really need…is the same thing the people in the land of Shinar needed. The people who built the Tower of Babel. The people scholars widely believe built a Ziggurat for their tower. A religious structure dedicated to a deity; similar in shape to a pyramid. “The main architectural feature was the stairway that led to the top. In a small room at the top a bed was made and a table set for the deity.” It acted as a bridge between heaven and earth. A way for the gods to descend upon the people. At the bottom, next to the Ziggurat, a temple was typically found. The gods could descend using the stairs, receive the worship of the people, and in turn bless the people; bless the city. So as you can imagine if one was going to build a city they would of course want a Ziggurat.

So they built one. The people in the land of Shinar. They built it tall “with its top in the heavens (11:4).” To reach God. But it’s arrogance to think God is so easily attainable. Or to think he needs a staircase. Yes, arrogance to think God needs our worship or our resources. He needs nothing from us! Nothing! What the people of Babel desperately needed was a right view of God. A. right. view. of. God. “The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens! Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth?” (Ps. 113:4-6)

But really are we so different? Do we not also need a right view of God? In a society that thinks God is a way of the past. That God is whoever we want him to be. That God is approachable even in sin. That God is like one of us. Arrogance, yes arrogance! “There is none holy like the LORD; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed” (1 Samuel 2:2-3).

Jesus is the bridge between heaven and earth. Jesus alone. So shall his name be great! Not mine. No not mine. Neither theirs. For they aspired to make a name for themselves (11:4). But it is God alone whose name is great. And God alone who can make one’s name great, as he made Abraham’s (Gen. 12:2). Yet today are we not guilty of the same ambition? To make a name for ourselves? With selfies. Followers. Reality TV. Viral photos and videos. All of it to make a name for ourselves. But who am I really? Who am I but a servant of Jesus Christ? Oh that His name might be great. That His name be followed. And not as a swear word. But as the Lord of Lords; King of Kings; Holy and Almighty God. Rightly viewed. Rightly worshiped.

No, we are not so unlike the people of Babel. In need of God…in need of a right view of God. So God, merciful as he is, made himself known. To the descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. To Israel; to the nations; to us. But in order to do that God had to separate the people into nations and he did that at Babel. There by the tower he confused their language, giving us the different dialects of today. What a site that must have been! I wonder at their reaction when they suddenly didn’t speak the same language as their neighbor. I wonder if God did it in the night or midday. I wonder at the chaos in the city. What did they think? Did they presume the gods had judged them? Or did they recognize it was the LORD God who had judged them; who was separating them since they would not do so themselves. Defiantly they declared “Come, let us build ourselves a city…lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” This…a direct contradiction to God’s command to “fill the earth” (Gen. 9:1). But is God one to be defied? His commands such that we can choose to obey them or not? Is this how they viewed God? Is this how we view God?

Oh that we would worship him as he is. Not as we make him. Not as we imagine him. Not as the genie in the bottle who grants three wishes when we rub him the right way. Not as a God that can be manipulated. Not as a God we can merely summon when we need something. Not as the prosperity god. Not as the mean man upstairs; the tyrant who sends good people to hell. Not as a god at the top of a staircase. No….let us worship him as the God of the Bible. The God who makes himself clearly known throughout all the world.

The God who has revealed himself through the work and person of Jesus Christ. A merciful, faithful God is he. A loving God who came to seek and save the lost. A holy God who must judge sin for what it is. An Almighty God who can redeem; who can save; who has power over sin and death. A God who cannot be reached by a staircase or good works or any other means other than the shed blood of Jesus Christ. A sovereign God who holds the earth in the palm of his hand; who numbers the stars and the hairs upon your head; who made all things and holds all things together. This is the LORD God. This. is. who. he. is.

King of kings; Lord of lords. View him as such now and you will be blessed to view him as such in eternity. Forever. Together. In one language. The judgment of Babel reversed. God said through the prophet Zephaniah, “For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the LORD and serve him with one accord” (Zeph. 3:9). Oh what a day that will be! When God is rightly viewed. Rightly worshiped.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
How do you view God? Does it match with what Scripture says of God?
How does your view of God impact your daily life? Your prayer life? Your life of service to him?
How can you today show the world who God really is? Who can you show his love to?image

A Little Family History

Devo Scripture: Genesis 9:26 – 10:32
Key Verse: “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” Galatians 3:26

So ya wanna know where ya came from? Well I can tell ya! You’re a descendent of either Shem, Ham, or Japheth. “From these three sons of Noah came all the people who now populate the earth” (Gen. 9:18, NLT). All the people! Including me. Including you. Christians and non-Christians alike have a connection to Biblical history. Whether one chooses to accept that or not doesn’t change the fact that all peoples descend from one of these three men; from Noah; from Adam; and ultimately from God. (Kids let me tell you a story about your Great Great Great Great grandpa Japheth and your Uncle Shem.) Sounds a little crazy doesn’t it?

I’ll admit at first glance Genesis 10 appears to be a boring genealogy with names neither you nor I know how to pronounce. But in actuality…it’s your family history (and mine too). Verse 2 begins with Japeth. In general the European countries descended from him, through Javan. Scholars also include Germans, Russians, Slovaks, Romans, Greeks, Turks, Poles, Medes, Celtics, and Persians as descendents of Japeth (just to name a few).

From Ham are named four sons. From these come the African peoples; the Ethiopians; the Egyptians; the Libyans. As well as the nations of the Canaanites. But if you remember from last week the Canaanites are cursed by Noah (9:25) and are thus (surprise surprise) no longer in existence. They dwelt mainly in the land east of the Mediterranean Sea (otherwise known as the promised land) and were destroyed by God when Israel took possession of this land fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Deut. 1:7-8). But the annihilation of the Canaanites did not come immediately. God is patient not wanting that any should perish. He gave them time, yet they esteemed him not. Initially the Canaanites even prospered. Note their initial settlement was in some of the best, most fertile land. Makes me think of Psalm 37:7 “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.” (Ps. 37:7,9).

Genesis 10 elaborates on one particular descendent of Ham, Nimrod. In Hebrew Nimrod means “we will rebel.” Verse 10 says “The beginning of his kingdom was Babel.” Sound familiar? The Tower of Babel. Babel is also known as Babylon. “As a city, Babylon symbolizes humanity’s ambition to dethrone God and make the earth it’s own.” When the Israelites chose to serve other gods the LORD exiled them to Babylon for 70 years. In essence God said, “Ok if you want to live apart from me then I’ll send you to the city representing life apart from me.” Babylon is also spoken of again in Revelation, no doubt representing rebellion against God.

Then we have Shem. From Shem came the Assyrians, the Arabian tribes, the Chaldeans. But most notably the Jews, God’s chosen people, whom the Messiah (Jesus Christ) would descend through.

What a blessing Shem received! The Messiah; the Redeemer; the one spoken of all the way back in Genesis 3:15; the very Son of God; would come from Shem. A blessing indeed. When Noah prophesied a curse on Canaan, he also prophesied a blessing on Shem and Japheth. “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant.” (9:26-27) Oh how I pray it could be written of me in such a way. “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Stacey.” The LORD was the God of Shem. Shem followed after God and God chose him. God used his descendents for the most glorious purpose, though it was not easy. Far…far from easy. God used them to make his name known throughout the entire world. Used them to bring salvation to the entire world. God is aware my friend, oh so aware of every little thing done for him and not done for him. He’s waiting to bless. Waiting for the willing soul. Looking for the one willing to glorify him (2 Chron. 16:9). It won’t be easy…no not easy. But it will be so so worth it.

Noah’s blessing also fell on Japheth. “May God enlarge Japheth.” Think about the massive amounts of land contributed to the descendants of this man. But the real blessing is in the words “let him dwell in the tents of Shem.” Did Shem and Japheth’s descendents live together? Not to my knowledge but this was fulfilled when God brought salvation to the gentiles.  “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:26, 29). And if Abraham’s offspring then an adopted descendent of Shem. As such believers “dwell” in the tents of Shem.

But it gets even better. In Christ, as one of Abraham’s offspring, believers share in the inheritance promised to the saints (Col. 1:12). The first of that inheritance is the Holy Spirit (Gal. 4:5-7). Those in Christ are “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:13-14). Next is the redemption of our bodies (Rom. 8:23) and eternal life with Christ in Heaven (Rev. 21). “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Rom. 8:16-17). (For more on life in Heaven, click here.)

So the real question is not “where did I come from?” That’s already been determined. The real question is “where am I headed?” What’s your inheritance? Is it eternal life with Christ in heaven? Believer we have much to celebrate. Though now we mourn. Though now we struggle. We can rejoice too! “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18).

Contemplate and Evaluate:
How are you today encouraging godly heritage in your family line?
Could it be said of you “Blessed be the LORD, the God of _(your name)_? Would others recognize it?
When was the last time you considered your eternal inheritance in light of the daily hard things?image

God is for Us

Devo Scripture: Genesis 9:1-17
Key Verse: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

It had been quite a year for Noah and his family. I have no doubt they were happy to be off that boat. But as I put myself there with them in the mountains, I have to wonder if they had doubts; questions; concerns. We read from one verse to the next without pause but they did not. They lived it daily. So I wonder how long before God spoke to them? Reassured them. Blessed them. How long? Was it immediately after the burnt offerings? Or was there a time of silence when they questioned, looked at each other, and thought what now? What will become of us? Did God bring us this far only to let us starve? Why did we have to land in the mountains of all places? Is God for us or against us? If God was really for us couldn’t he have made this whole starting over thing a little easier? Why does it have to be so hard? Is this really God’s plan? (Have you been there?)

There they were alone in the big gigantic world with little left to their name. It would take time to grow food. The terrain was different. The climate was different. Their surroundings were different. I have to think they had doubts. Plenty of doubts. Doubts that make you wonder is God really for us or against us? This God who just brought judgment on the entire world is he for me or against me? But then God spoke. (Just let the magnitude of that alone sink in.) Did they expect it? Or was it a bit surprising? “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” God’s first words after pouring out his judgment were words of blessing. Can you imagine? What a relief to hear the very words God had spoken to Adam (Gen. 1:28). It was still God’s desire that man flourish. But there was more! God said more! “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything” (9:3). Oh how God provided. He was for them, not against them. So much so that he gave them all animals as food. We don’t know exactly what the restrictions were prior to the flood but now they could kill to eat as they needed. He provided abundantly for them and for us. Because he is for us, not against us.

But God still wasn’t done. Because God would not stand for the kind of violence that preceded the flood and because he values the life of man (for all people are made in God’s image) he enacted the death penalty for any person or animal who wrongfully took a life. My friend, God is for us. Everyday he is for us. Then God continues with what had to be the most reassuring promise ever to fall on their ears – “never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” Oh thankgoodness. Can you imagine their relief? Never again would they have to go through this. Never will we. And as a sign of the covenant to never flood the entire earth again, God said “I have set my bow in the cloud” (9:13). Note God doesn’t say “the bow” or even “a bow.” He says “my bow.” The rainbow is his and his alone. It’s not simply a meteorological phenomenon. It’s a part of his glory. His very glory! What surrounds the very throne of God? A rainbow! John saw it in a vision. “And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald” (Rev. 4:3). And so did Ezekiel when a vision of the throne was given to him. “Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around” (Ezek. 1:28).

God didn’t make the rainbow that day. He didn’t suddenly come up with the idea after the flood. No…the rainbow has always been. It’s a small glimpse of the radiant glory that always surrounds him majestic on the throne. And he graciously shared it with us. He shared his bow with us. Why? Because he wants us to know he is for us; not against us. But so often it doesn’t feel like it. Because we associate his goodness to us with our good fortune. When things go well, God is for us. But when things turn upside down we quickly wonder why me? why now? How could this happen? Is God really for me; or against me? Oh that we would stay grounded in the truth of His Word. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:31-32)

God proved that he is for us when he sent his one and only Son to die in our place on the cross. God proved that he is for us when he poured his wrath upon Jesus so he didn’t have to pour it on us. God proved that he is for us when he gave us the gift of eternal life. What then shall we say to these things? What shall we say to the fact that in Christ we are a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17); blessed in Christ with all spiritual blessings (Eph. 1); sealed by the Holy Spirit for the day of redemption (Eph. 4:30); adopted as children of God and joint heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17). What shall we say to the fact that he has freed us from bondage to sin (Rom. 6:22) and given us access to his very throne (Heb. 4:16)? I think we shall confidently say – God is for us, not against us.

So when the day comes that I question. I will hold fast to the word of God. I will stand strong in the promises and remember these things. Satan will not dissuade me. Man will not dissuade me. I know whom I have believed in. And he is for me. Everyday God is for me. So let me be for him. Let my life be all for him.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Do you feel confident that God is for you? If not, ask him to give you peace and confidence in the promises he has given us.
How can you today express to God that you are for him?

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Perhaps We’re too Practical

Devo Scripture: Genesis 8:20-22
Key Verse: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12:1

They made it! The flood Noah had been anticipating for decades was over. Now what? What’s the first step when life as you knew it is changed forever? When the loss around you is completely overwhelming? When you’ve got questions, doubts, fears? When there is much work to be done? The rebuilding that preceded them must have felt at least a bit overwhelming. The rebuilding of people, animals, homes. The rebuilding of businesses, farms, flocks, herds, food. Everything had to be rebuilt. Everything. All they had was on that boat. Where would you even start?

Knowing me I’d start with one of my well formulated plans. I’d probably make a list or two; take inventory of our current provisions and determine how much we could spare per person per day until we could grow or gather more. I’d assign a brother-in-law or two to start taking apart the boat. We’d need it for firewood and shelter. Then I’d kiss my husband and ask him if he wouldn’t mind finding me something warmer to put on. The climate was so different and cold. The unexpected weather was going to add an interesting element to things. It would be a long few years but we could do it if we were smart, worked together, and lived practically. After all practicality was of absolute importance right?

But I don’t read any of that in Genesis 8. None. Instead of building a house what does Noah do? He builds an altar. Instead of taking inventory he sacrifices not just one animal but one of each clean animal. That took some serious effort and time. And wasn’t time of the essence? It’s survival mode people! Noah had limited resources; limited provisions; yet there he was burning animal after animal (when there were so few left) on valuable wood to a God who just delivered judgment on the entire world. Noah wasn’t thinking practically at all. No…he was thinking spiritually.

And he had never been more right than he was that day on the side of a freshly washed mountain. All practicality aside, Noah offered to God burnt offerings that so pleased the LORD, he declared “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.” Huh, did God suddenly have a change of heart? No. He is not a man that he should change his mind (Nu. 23:19). What happened that day on the side of the freshly washed mountain signified the necessity of sacrifice; shed blood; for the sin of mankind. It was an act of atonement because “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Heb. 9:22). Noah’s burnt offerings foreshadowed the sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God, offered once for the sin of all people (1 Peter 1:18-19). And for that reason God’s wrath was appeased. The intention of man was still evil. The flood didn’t change that. But on account of the burnt offerings that foreshadowed his son, God restored his favor to man. Though Noah’s sacrifice may seem a bit impractical, even a bit absurd to the average onlooker; spiritually speaking – it was the most pragmatic and responsible act he could have done.

But if there had been a world watching might they have esteemed him as crazy? Wasting such valuable resources. It was so impractical. Oh that the world might esteem me as impractical for the sake of Christ. Don’t get me wrong I’m all about practicality. But what if we worship when it makes absolutely no sense to the watching world? What then? When life is upside down; when I’m hurt to my very core; when the watching world sees nothing but loss; when life holds so many questions; when I’m in a different place than I ever thought I’d be; when it appears as though God has turned his back? What if then I worship? When I don’t have time. When there’s kids to chase, dinner to make, laundry to fold, bills to pay. What if I took the time to worship right then? What might God do then? For you; for me? Genesis 9:1 tells us what God will do. “And God blessed Noah…” Blessing will follow. The kind of blessing only God can give. The best kind of blessing. But much of the time this blessing…well….it just doesn’t come under the pretense of practicality. Yet falls fresh on every knee bent hard, every face flat to the earth worshiping when the world looks and seeing marvel’s because it makes no sense.

So really then…what if we weren’t so practical? What if we sacrifice when we have little to give? Noah had nothing to spare yet one of every clean animal was slain. Was that a hard decision? Giving to God out of their limited resources? Or out of reverence for the God that spared them was it easy? I wonder, were they hungry? And I mean h.u.n.g.r.y. At the smell of the bbq did their mouths water insanely and their stomachs yearn for just a little. Yet they could have none of it. (except the hide). A burnt offering was offered in it’s entirety. All of it belonged to God because all of Christ was offered to God (except his robes). Sacrifice. It’s supposed to cost us something but does it? What if…what if we sacrificed when we had little to give? little strength. little time. little sleep. little money. little experience. little knowledge. What if we sacrificed then? When it seems so impractical to a watching world? What then?

Perhaps with a little less practicality the world might see in us the God who is worth it all. Perhaps then they might see Jesus; who saves, sustains, and protects the soul that seeks him. My friends, perhaps it’s time we live a little less practical and a lot more spiritual. Perhaps then we would find that we’re living the most pragmatic and responsible life possible.

At the moment when worship seems the least practical option it’s likely the most sensible solution.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Put yourself in Noah’s place, with limited resources would you have sacrificed all those animals?
In what area of your life might the Holy Spirit be prompting you to think spiritually instead of practically?image

Life’s About the Waiting

Devo Scripture: Genesis 8:1-19
Key Verse: “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” Psalm 27:14

I’ll be the first in line to admit I don’t like waiting in line. Or waiting at a stoplight for that matter. Or in a “waiting room”. Or for my phone to ring; the baby to go to sleep; my husband to get home; a maid service to show up on my front porch free of charge (still waiting for this one). Or for God to answer my prayer. It’s hard sometimes…the waiting and the waiting. But you know what…life’s about the waiting. Life’s about what WE DO during the waiting…

It’s no small thing…the waiting. Seems endless at times. Cruel even. Just ask Abraham who waited 25 years for God to deliver on his promise of a son. Ask Jacob who waited 7 years to marry the love of his life. Ask Rachel who watched 10 other sons be born into the household before she nursed a sweet baby of her own. Ask Joseph who waited 2 years for the cupbearer to remember him in prison. Ask Moses who waited 80 years for God to use him to bring salvation to his people. Ask David who waited 15 years from the time of his anointing to rule as king. Ask Zechariah and Elizabeth who waited desperate for a child. Yet God delayed for his purposes; for his timing; for the one who would pronounce the coming of the Kingdom; for John the Baptist.

Consider the faithful listed in Hebrews 11 who are still waiting. “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar” (Heb. 11:13a). Consider the earth which “waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God” (Rom. 8:19). Consider believers who “wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Rom. 8:23). Daily we continue “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). Consider the martyrs who wait for God to avenge for their blood (Rev. 6:10). Consider Israel who waits for a Messiah that already came. Who waits for God to bring judgment on her enemies. Who waits for a promised future glory (Isaiah 60). Consider…the waiting. Consider…Noah.

In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried from off the earth. And Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked and behold, the face of the ground was dry” (Gen. 8:13). It was dry! It had been 10 long months but the earth was dry! Yet Noah remained inside the ark. The door remained sealed. Though Noah could see for himself the earth was dry God didn’t give the ok to open the door for another 57 days. 57 days!! (As if they hadn’t already been on that boat long enough!) What was the atmosphere like during those 8 weeks? Did Noah feel forgotten? Anxious? Did his son’s threaten to open the door themselves? Or maybe it was the daughter-in-law’s? Was his wife supportive? I could see myself getting quite testy at this point. It’s been a year and I want off this boat! I’m tired of these stinky animals! But they waited…all of them. Because life’s about the waiting…about what we do during the waiting…

They waited for God to give the command to go. They waited for God to open the door. That’s not something many of us are very good at…to wait…for God to open the door. When we get tired of waiting (whether that door’s easy to open or not) we barge through with such force there’s no going back. I know because I’ve barged through a few doors in my day. And I’ve regretted it every time. Why? Because I lost out on the blessings that come with waiting. And the benefits that come with walking through a door that God opened; not one I forced open.

But I’ve learned something. Something revolutionary has finally weaved its way into my goal oriented head. It’s not about getting through the doorway. It’s not about the achievement because my friends there will always be something more to achieve. It’s about the waiting. About what we do while we wait for God to open the door. to heal. to provide. to save. to act. to answer our prayers. It’s about trusting in the waiting. It’s about praising him in the waiting. It’s about finding joy in the waiting. It’s about bringing him glory while we wait.

Therein lies the blessing. Therein lies the reward. It’s in the waiting. “For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him” (Is. 30:18b). “But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Is. 40:31). “Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame” (Ps. 25:3a).

There is much blessing in store for a heart and mind that waits steadfast on God. So as tempting as it to wish away the waiting. To rush the waiting. To loathe the waiting. Let’s savor the waiting. Knowing there is purpose and blessing here and now. In the waiting…for an answer, for love, for healing, for work. In the waiting…to be noticed, remembered, promoted, successful. In the waiting…for God to open the door; for God to bring back a child; for God to make himself known; for God to give or take away. “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” (Ps. 27:14)

Life’s about the waiting…about what we do in the waiting…to God be the glory!

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What are you waiting for? How can you bring glory to God by your actions and attitude while you wait?
How can you see God working in the waiting? What purpose might he have?image

He is the Mighty One

Devo Scripture: Genesis 7:11-24
Key Verse: “O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O LORD, with your faithfulness all around you? You rule the raging of the sea; when it’s waves rise, you still them.” Ps. 89:8-9

Another day. Another chance to bring him glory. That’s the goal right? I’m ready. I wake the kids. We start into our routine. I’m ready. Bring him glory. The goal. Remember the goal. But then the cereal bowl crashes, the outfit we picked out last night doesn’t feel right this morning, the little man cries because we’re out of Lucky Charms and his favorite shirt is in the dirty clothes. I’ll wash it. I promise I’ll wash it. Bring him glory…the goal. I work harder. Faster. Already stressed and it’s only 7:30am. The goal…I feel it slipping further and further from my reach. I grasp at it.

I drop the big kids at school. I run errands with the little kids. I find my farmer somewhere in this county or the next. I deliver the ham sandwich. I listen to the crying little man who wants to stay with daddy. I remember the goal. Bring my Savior glory. But I’m tired. (But He is not) My heart stirs at the reminder. I can’t do this on my own Lord (My child I don’t expect you to.) And I’m tired Lord (Then it’s the perfect time to give me glory. It’s the perfect time to lean into my strength.) Yes you are strong. You are the Mighty One Lord. (Yes my child. Yes.) “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12:9). (That’s it my child. Remember what I have said to you.) He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength (Is. 40:29). (Yes if I have said it I will do it.) O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O LORD, with your faithfulness all around you? You rule the raging of the sea; when it’s waves rise, you still them” (Ps. 89:8-9). (Yes child. There is none like me. Remember. Always remember.)

He is the Mighty One. There is no one like the LORD. No one but him can tell a lightning bolt where to strike (Job 38:35). “He loads the thick cloud with moisture; the clouds scatter his lightning. They turn around and around by his guidance, to accomplish all that he commands them on the face of the habitable world” (Job 37:11-12). He commands the morning since it began and causes the dawn to know its place (Job 38:12). He sets the stars in place and “by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing” (Is. 40:26b).

Jesus. He is awesome in power. Great are his wondrous works. It is he that holds all things together (Col. 1:17). It is he that holds me together! It is he that holds you as well. Nothing is too big for the LORD. Nothing is too hard for him. Yet we hold tight to our problems. Our worries. Anxious we attempt the day in our own strength. Oh but it is he that makes us strong! If only we’d let him handle the big stuff and the little stuff we make into big stuff. If only we’d let go. If only we’d…trust. Then the world might see his awesome power displayed in us.

For he is in the business of big stuff! We see it easily in Genesis 7. The most powerful deluge of water ever to fill the earth was done at his fingertips. Not one raindrop fell without his consent. Not one.

And it was big. Really big. On the day the flood began “all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened” (Gen. 7:11). It wasn’t just 40 days and nights of a nice steady rain. But for 150 days the waters prevailed rising higher and higher, 15 cubits above the mountains. And for another 150 days the waters receded. Yes there was forty days and nights of soaking, drenching, pouring rain. But it began with a breaking up of the great deep. Creation scientists believe the earth’s crust moved, cleaved open, shifting apart with great force causing huge amounts of water and volcanic activity to burst skyward. (Catastrophic Plate Tectonics) If the world began as one land mass it did not take millions of years for the continents to break apart but happened the year of the flood. So we’re talking under water volcanic activity that caused the ocean to rise quickly and powerfully over the earth. “The ocean floors would have been effectively replaced by hot lavas.” (www.answersingenesis.org) It was big. Really big. We serve a mighty and powerful God.

It was so big in fact with all the ash and dust in the air from the volcanic activity, sunlight was blocked “making the temperatures on earth cooler. As the warm water from the oceans evaporated into the air, forming clouds, the colder air over the earth caused wintry conditions, lots of snow, and ice glaciers. This could have easily caused an Ice Age that lasted hundreds of years.”(www.answersingenesis.org) The flood was big, with big effects. But none of it was out of his control. All of it done by the greatness of his might. Because he is strong in power.

I see it now as a storm approaches across the field. I’ve glimpsed it on the shore of a vast ocean. I’ve felt it sharing Christ with complete strangers. And I know it when patience fills me. Joy becomes me. Peace overwhelms me. Love astounds me. Only by his strength can I give thanks in the hard things. And sing praise amidst the mess. On my own I can do nothing. But in Christ I can do all things to his glory. For it’s at my weakest hour that his power shines brightest. “O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love” (Ps. 59:17). He is a mighty and powerful God.

So remember the goal. And keep in mind, those big things in our lives that we try to handle ourselves….yeah they aren’t too big for the LORD. And those little things that we make into big things…yeah they aren’t too big either.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What are you holding onto that you need to give God today? What’s keeping you distracted?
What areas of your life can you boast of his strength and therefore give God the glory?
Does your joy and peace exude to others that God is mighty and awesome in power?image

Judgment is Coming

Devo Scripture: Genesis 6
Key Verse: “Noah did all that the LORD had commanded him” (Gen. 7:5).

As a farmer’s wife I can’t help but have a love/hate relationship with rain. We need it. Desperately. Our livelihood depends on it. There are times when I beg God for rain and other times when I beg him to make it stop. During the spring and fall (planting and harvest) most of my conversations either begin or end with “If it rains….” Everything from my social life to my meal plan hinders on whether or not it rains. Because if it doesn’t rain my hard working farmer will be out working. So I watch the weather closely. I reacquaint myself with my favorite weather man. And I watch and I plan according to the rain.

It dawned on me this week..Noah had a season of life dictated by rain too…Though his admission was not “if it rains…” but “when it rains…” God told Noah it was going to rain. It had never rained; yet Noah believed God. He believed with his whole heart that it would indeed rain. “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household” (Heb. 11:7a). God told Noah to build an ark so he did. For quite possibly 75 years he built the ark. Faithfully believing God would fulfill his word. [Sidenote: We don’t know how long it took Noah to build the ark. But Gen. 6:18 indicates Noah’s boys were already grown and married when Noah received his instructions. The flood began when Noah was 600 years old and his first son was born when he was 500 years old (Gen. 5:32).]

I wonder if he had days he didn’t feel like building? He kept on. I wonder how many jabs and sneers were thrown at him over 75 years? He kept on. I wonder how much his boys helped? Did they ever encourage him to try his hand at something else? He kept on. Was Noah’s wife supportive? Did she approve of using their savings for such a task? No matter, he kept on. And Noah “did all that God commanded him” (6:22).

God told Noah to make the ark out of gopher wood, so he did. God told Noah to make it 300 cubits long (450 ft or approx. 1 ½ football fields), so he did. God said make it with three decks, so he did. God said to make rooms (the Hebrew word for rooms = nests) in the ark, so he did. God said cover the ark inside and out with pitch (a covering to seal out the water), so he did. God said put a door in the side of the ark, so he did. God said make the roof a cubit (18 in.) above so there could be ventilation at the top, so he did. He did all of it just as God commanded.

He didn’t say, “That sounds too hard Lord. I think I’ll do it my way.” He didn’t say, “Maybe tomorrow.” He didn’t say, “I’m busy right now.” He didn’t say, “I don’t feel like it.” He did it. He faithfully did all that God commanded him to do. Do I? Do you? Do we faithfully do what God has commanded? Or are we too busy? Too tired? Is it too hard? Oh that we would be like Noah and do all that God commands of us! That we would listen and obey. That our faith would be expressed through action. “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” “But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one: you do well. Even the demons believe – and shudder!” (James 2:14, 18-19) Absolutely we are saved by grace alone through faith, and not by works. But Scripture says (not me), “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead” (James 2:26).

Noah’s willingness to do all that God commanded was evidence of his faith. “By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith” (Heb. 11:7b). Noah proved his faith by his works. I find it fascinating that Noah “is the only major figure involved in an extended biblical event to whom no words are attributed in the course of that event. The point is that his obedience was expressed by his action.

Noah believed and obeyed God at a time in history when no one believed or obeyed. The earth was filled with violence (6:11) but that didn’t stop him. The Nephilim (Greek = giants; Original Hebrew = fallen ones) were on the earth, but that didn’t stop him. The intentions of man were only evil continually, but that didn’t stop him. Did Noah fear what man might do to him? Maybe. But he feared God more. In fact 2 Peter 2:5 tells us Noah not only built the ark but preached to the people while he did it!

Who did Noah preach to? His neighbors? Or did people come from far and away to see the crazy man building a humongous boat on a bunch of dirt? I wonder too if Noah employed workers to help? If so, what of them? To build the ark but refuse to step inside. To know the truth yet reject it. To place the nails; then walk away day after day. To have salvation right before them yet refuse it. To be so close yet perish on the day of judgment. My friends, don’t let that be you. Christ is our ark of salvation. Christ is the only way to Heaven (Jn. 10:9). You helped place the nails. Don’t walk away. Don’t be caught off guard. “For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:37-39).

Judgment is coming. Jesus is returning. There is no doubt about that. He waits because he desires that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). But he will not wait forever. Judgment will come though many scoff at the idea. “They deliberately forget that God made the heavens by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water. Then he used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood. And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed” (2 Peter 3:5-7, NLT). Judgment is coming, only this time it won’t be rain.

So what should we do? We should live out our days as though judgment is coming! Noah certainly did. There was no doubting what he believed! It was evident. My friends, let us heed Noah’s example. May there be no doubt what we believe. Judgment is coming…let’s make it evident by the life that we life; faithfully obedient to the word of God.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Do Christians today live as though judgment is coming?
How’s your obedience to all that God commands? Do your walk and words demonstrate your faith?
What has God commanded you to specifically do? Are you doing it?image

A Little Something Extra: The first four verses of Genesis 6 are highly debated among scholars. The question in dispute hinders on “Who are the sons of God and the Nephilim?” I will tell you up front…we don’t know. And I will not pretend to know (though I do hold an opinion). Here are a few theories:

  1. The sons of God are Seth’s godly line who intermarry with Cain’s descendants (the daughter’s of men).
  2. The sons of God were the kings of the earth during those early years who had polygamous relationships with women.
  3. The sons of God were angels (fallen angels) who overstepped their bounds by taking possession of human bodies to have sexual relations with the daughters of men. Scholars who hold to this theory use 1 Peter 3:19-20, 2 Peter 2:4-5, and Jude 5-6 to support their view. The term sons of God is also used in Job 1:6 and 2:1 to refer to angels.

Some say the Nephilim were thus the offspring of the demonized marriages. While others say they were simply giants based on Numbers 13:33.
Though this portion of Scripture is not perfectly clear there is one thing we can definitely take away: Sexual sin was no doubt a part of the intense corruption on the earth prior to the flood.

Grace that Amazes

Devo Scripture: Genesis 4:8-26
Key Verse: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

It’s 5:55 a.m. The alarm clock rouses me to a state of semi-consciousness. What day is it? Did I have to get up at all last night? Who was it that cried? I commission my brain to wake up. Begrudgingly my feet hit the floor for another day. I put on my favorite hoodie, pour the necessary coffee, and settle into my favorite couch cushion with my beloved Bible. I read. I try to pray. I remind my brain we’re up and awake now. I read some more. Gaze upon the precious words that train me, rebuke me, uplift me, and guide me. I read Genesis 4. I think about Cain and Abel. How could Cain kill his own brother? I read Psalm 86. “I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.” I think about my own deliverance. It’s by grace that I’ve been saved. Grace. Unmerited favor. Completely undeserved. imageTruly God’s grace is amazing. But a scary thought occurs to me. This grace. This underserved favor. This most excellent way of of God…does it still amaze me? Or have I grown so use to the idea of God’s grace that it has long since ceased to amaze?

I settle the little guys down for naps. I’ve pondered all morning God’s grace. I confess my lack of amazement. I open to Genesis 4 again. Time to study. Time to write. I love this time. I look forward to it all day. But today I feel…sad. I feel a need to confess on behalf of the church. Does grace amaze us anymore or do we expect it? Do we cherish it or take it for granted? I reread Genesis 4. And I realize this is an incredible story. But I didn’t see it as such until now. Thank you Holy Spirit. Thank you for teaching me; correcting me; rebuking me. Cain…a cold blooded murdered. A cold blooded murdered to his own brother, yet God did not instantly kill him for his horrendous crime. He deserved to die…right then. But God didn’t rid the earth of his angry face. Instead the Holy and Righteous Judge of the universe allowed him to live; giving him many years to repent. And placed a mark of protection upon him. He let him have a wife and children. His children were prosperous and successful, responsible for the advancement of livestock production, the arts, and metal technology (Gen. 4:22-22). Cain could no longer farm but he pioneered a city. Mercy and grace were lavished upon Cain.

And what was Cain’s response? We can hope gratitude. We can hope humility. But if it was, he failed to teach his children and grandchildren of God’s faithfulness. He failed to teach them of God’s grace…God’s amazing grace. He took it for granted. Maybe even felt he deserved it. And the result was the downward depravity of a family line. A grandson whose advancement in metal technology lead to swords and weapons. And another who took two wives; boasted of hateful murderous revenge; and belittled God’s protection of his great grandfather. God’s grace was laughed at; disrespected; disregarded.

I falter a bit at the realization. This is what can happen when grace ceases to be amazing. If I take it for granted now, what will my children do? I groan from the possibilities. Forgive me God. Forgive me for not living in daily gratitude of your grace. And suddenly I realize something. I am no different from Cain. I have offered sacrifices to God in pride and arrogance. I too have let sin master me. I too have disregarded God’s guidance. R.C. Sproul says, “The slightest sin is an act of defiance against cosmic authority.” It doesn’t matter what I’ve done; sin is sin. And the slightest sin places me on death row because the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). I deserve the death penalty. Cain deserved the death penalty. And my beloved friend…you deserve the death penalty. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). We are guilty. No one is innocent. We are all in need of mercy. And all it took was one sin; one act of defiance. “For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws” (James 2:10; NLT).

Yet he loves us. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Is. 53:6). The wrath of God assailed Jesus. His own father turned away from him. So we could have life…abundant eternal life. I deserve death but have been handed life. And not just any life but eternal life with God in Heaven. This is grace. This. is. amazing. grace.

But does it leave me awestruck? Am I astonished by grace anymore? R.C. Sproul says “what amazes us is justice, not grace.” “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ps. 86:15). God is so slow to anger, so patient with us, that when we see his righteous judgment we stammer along behind it, awestruck that a God of love could or would act in such a way. But his judgments are righteous…always righteous. He is Holy; we are not. He owes us nothing; we owe him everything. To think we deserve anything from God is to fail miserably in our thinking. It is not his justice that should astonish us; it’s his grace.

“Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found was blind but now I see.” Let us live in awe of God’s grace. Let us live daily in gratitude for his undeserved favor. For a life lived in gratitude of grace will be a life well lived.

Contemplate and Evaluate:

  1. Does grace amaze you? What most amazes you about God? How can you show your gratitude to Him today?
  2. How does God daily show you grace?image

Cain and Abel

Devo Scripture: Genesis 4:1-7
Key Verse: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37

“It’s a boy!” declared Adam to Eve. It was a tremendous moment. God was gracious and the cries of a baby filled the earth. The first baby the angels had ever set eyes on. The first baby to be fashioned gently and lovingly by God in a mother’s womb. And not just any baby, but a baby boy! I can’t help but wonder what it was like for Eve to give birth without another woman by her side. Was Adam a good birthing coach? Regardless Eve was ecstatic for this little one. “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD” (Gen. 4:1). She was optimistic that already God had given her a man to “bruise” the head of Satan (Gen. 3:15). Makes me wonder at what point her optimism over Cain weakened and her hope became Abel, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel” (Gen. 4:25). When did she first see it? When did she know Cain was not “the man”? We know nothing of Cain and Abel’s growing up years. Did they fight constantly? Did the jealousy go back to when they were small boys? Did Cain struggle with anger as a child? Was he the strong willed type that fought against his parent’s every directive?

Can you imagine the focus of Heaven and hell on this little family? I wonder, did Eve see the serpent slither by from time to time? Did he make himself known? Reminding. Pestering. Prodding her boys away from God. There is a reason Jesus said to pray for deliverance from the evil one (Matthew 6:13). “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). And Satan didn’t know any better than Eve if one of these boys was the seed God would use to crush him (Gen. 3:15). His only hope, so he thought, was to turn them from God or destroy them. Thus began his quest to thwart God’s plan and prevent the seed. (i.e. Certainly Satan was behind Pharaoh’s command to kill all Hebrew baby boys at the time of Moses’ birth and again Herod’s similar command at the birth of Jesus.)

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). Satan’s already been defeated but he’s still very much hard at work. He holds no power over a follower of Jesus but would love nothing more than to render you useless to God’s kingdom by distraction, despair, and discontentment. If you want Satan to leave you alone then simply live as the world lives. Do what you want, when you want, however you want to, and he won’t bother with you. But if you want to be a threat to the spiritual forces of evil who hate you. Who want nothing more than to see you fall flat on your face and stay there sad, dejected, and distracted by self-pity. Then get up and worship. Get up and be thankful. Get up and be obedient and “in all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” (Eph. 6:16).

Get up my friend! I ask you today (and I ask myself) just as the LORD asked Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. It’s desire is for you, but you must rule over it” (Gen. 4:6-7).

Has your face fallen? Are you angry? At what? God? A brother or sister? The government? Life? I gotta tell ya. I lost many battles last week. It was a long week. I was very distracted. I was tired and felt like waving my white flag of surrender. I was angry at my situation. God brought these words to my mind on more than one occasion. And to be honest I didn’t want to hear it. I wanted to be mad. I wanted to throw a pity party for myself. But what did it accomplish? Nothing. It rendered me useless. Useless for the Kingdom. But I will not let the evil one win. I’m getting back up. My God is greater! And I want to choose to do well. I am a daughter of the King and I will live like it. Victorious! Joyful! Content! Obedient to my Father! Get up with me friend! Get up!

Rejoice! For there IS a way to rule over sin. In Christ we are no longer slaves to sin. We are bondservants of righteousness. The word of God is your sword (Eph. 6:17). Fight with it! “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8). Hide it in your heart. Meditate on it. Know it. Live it.

And give God your best. The problem with Cain’s sacrifice was not that it was fruit instead of blood. For both are sacrifices later recognized in the Levitical system of offerings. The problem was his heart. Notice that Cain gave God some “fruit of the ground.” But Abel gave God “the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions.” Abel gave God the best he had to offer. While Cain handed God some leftovers. God doesn’t want our leftovers. God doesn’t need our leftovers. Everything already belongs to him (Ps. 50:8-12). But what pleases God is a willing spirit (Ps. 40:6), a heart of thankfulness (Ps. 50:14), and a humble repentant attitude (Ps. 51:16-17). What pleases God is when we “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37); by giving him our best. The best of ourselves. The best part of our day. The best attitude. Being the best mother I can be (with his help.) Doing work to the best of my ability (for his glory). When I finally realize my day is not about me but about Him. That’s when I will finally start giving God my best. He doesn’t want our leftovers. He wants and deserves our best. And when you give your best you’ll be a valuable and effective child of the King. May we never be rendered useless.

Contemplate and Evaluate:

  • Does God get the best you have to offer? or does he get the leftovers? What does giving God your best look like today?
  • What Scripture verse can you memorize today to help you conquer the sin that crouches close by?

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