Monday, April 30, 2012

Mon.’s Devo - Cities of Refuge

I thought I would take this day to explain the cities of refuge and what they mean. One night I was thinking about where people of the faith in the Old Testament went when they died. I asked God where they went right before I went to sleep. God knows the answer and loves to share his secrets with his friends. That morning I woke up and heard “cities of refuge” real loud in my head. I wondered what that was about, then God reminded me of my question, so I went to my Bible to find out about cities of refuge. Cities of refuge were cities that God told the Israelites to set up in every tribe. If a person was accused of killing another person but didn’t have a witness to testify the truth, they could run to the closest city of refuge and live there safely until the death of the high priest. At this time they would be set free. The person who was after them was called the “avenger of blood”. This is a picture of death during the Old Testament. We are all sinners and need a place of refuge which we know as repentance through the blood of Jesus. Our high priest is Jesus and when he died we were saved from the avenger, the devil. He is no longer able to avenge us of our sins because they are covered with the blood of Jesus. When people of the Old Testament died they went to a place called Sheol which was in the underground called Hell. I believe that there were places of refuge there were the saints went to wait the death of THE High Priest, Jesus. Machpelah, the fold, was such a place. You can read about the cities of refuge in Numbers 35:11-15 and Joshua 20 and 21.

Lord, thank you for being our city of refuge and our High Priest. We are safe and saved in You.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Fri.’s Devo - Burying Grounds

Read Gen. 23:1-20

Sarah died at 127 years of age. She died in Kirjath-arba which means “the city of 4 giants”. It is later called Hebron which means “the seat of association”. Its founder was an Anakim. The Anakim were associated with giants, which were many times half-human/half-spiritual beings (demonic). Cities had names that were given by their founders but when the Israelites took them over they changed their names and changed their spirits. Kirjath-arba meant the 4 giants of demonic power. Hebron, its Hebrew name meant 4 giants of the faith: Adam, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were 4 giants of the faith that were buried there. Where a person was buried was of utmost importance. I’ll explain that later when we talk about the cities of refuge. At this time this land was owned by the sons of Heth which means “terror”. Abraham asked them if he could buy a piece of their land to bury Sarah. The particular owner was Ephron who offered to give it to him. “Ephron” means “he of dust”. We are all of dust but when we are born again we are “of the spirit”. Ephron was unregenerated. Abraham knew not to take a gift from an infidel, or he would be forever indebted to him so he insisted on paying for it. It reminds me of when David wanted to buy the threshing floor from Obededom to make a sacrifice to God. He wanted to give it to David, but David said he could not offer God something that didn’t cost him something. Ephon finally told him that it was worth 400 shekels of silver. Abraham bought the cave of Mackpelah which means “a fold”. It became the burying place for many a patriarch and their wives - a sheep fold to hold the lambs of God’s family. Notice that Abraham did this transaction in the audience of all the people of Heth. This is why we deal with the devil “out loud”. Abraham was making a declaration that this was his land - cave, field, and trees were his and his family’s. He made it secure so that no one could retake it. Sadly, it is now owned by Muslim and has a mosque built over it. This is ground we need to take back.

Lord, let this remind us that it costs to take possession of the enemies ground but it is worth the fight.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thurs.’s Devo - Nahor’s Descendants

Read Gen. 22:19-24

Abraham comes back down the mountain after this time of great testing and great victory and goes back to Beersheba to live. He receives news that his brother has been blessed with 12 sons. Twelve is the number of government and his wife, Milcah’s name means “queen”. So he is also the father of many nations. I looked up the names of his sons and I couldn’t figure out what God was saying through them although I know it is something but I did notice that the first 8 were born to his wife and the last 4 were born to a concubine. The meanings of the first eight have to do with the first 6,000 years and the last four have to do with after we are taken out of the earth. Reumah, the concubine’s name means “raised up”. So I think that means the rapture and her offspring were what was left on the earth. Their names mean massacre, the devastator waxed hot, badger, and depression. That sounds like tribulation to me. Rebekah was born to Nahor’s 8th son. Rebekah would become Isaac’s wife and together they would birth twins : Jacob and Esau. Jacob would become the father of the 12 tribes of Israel. I wonder if it was hard for Abraham not to be jealous of his brother Nahor and his 12 sons. Abraham was the one with the promise of the great descendants yet everyone else seemed to be getting his promise. I can relate to that myself. God has promised us some particular things which seem to be going to everyone else and somehow passing us by. But I know that God is faithful to his promises. His timing is perfect, so reading this is an encouragement.

Lord, may we always be rejoice in what you are doing in our brother and sister’s lives and never be jealous or bitter. Your promises are sure.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wed.’s Devo - “A” for Abraham

Read Gen. 22:10-18

Isaiah 53 is the chapter about the suffering servant, Jesus. In verse 7 it says that he was led to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. This was a picture of Isaac, who was a type of Jesus. He willingly allowed his father to lay him on top of the wood and tie him down. Unlike on the cross, God stopped Abraham’s hand from killing him and provided a ram. Abraham passed the test and so did Isaac. They both trusted their father to know what was best. The ram was also a picture of Jesus. We deserve to die for our sins like Isaac, but Jesus became the ram that took our place. What a story of redemption. Abraham called the place Jehovah-Jireh which means “God will see to it, or God will provide”. Then Abraham was given the reward for passing his test: God promised to bless him and multiply his seed to be as many as the stars in the heaven and the sand of the sea - innumerable. Also, his seed will possess the gates of his enemies and through them all the nations of the earth will be blessed. If you know anything about the Jewish heritage you know that the greatest minds have come from them - ex. Einstein, Spillberg, Gershwin, Chagall. They have won Nobel prizes in chemistry, economics, literature, medicine, peace, and physics. They have blessed the world with their God-given gifts and talents. Abraham didn’t get to see all this in his life-time but I’m sure he is a member of the “crowd of witnesses” Hebrews 12:1 talks about. He is watching his blessing play out on the earth.

Lord, help us to realize that we are living our lives in front of a whole crowd of heavenly witnesses who are cheering us on to victory. Remind us that our lives are of eternal value and what we do does matter in the kingdom. May we glorify you with our lives.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tues.’s Devo - Abraham’s Test

Read Gen. 22:1-9

God told Abraham to take his much-loved son, Isaac to the land of Moriah which means “my teacher is Jehovah”. When God is our teacher he is the one who has the right to test us which is what he is doing with Abraham. He has taught him how to trust him and now he is getting the test. If he passes he will be promoted to the next level. He is to go to the land of Moriah and offer Isaac as a burnt offering on the mountain that God shows him. I cannot imagine what was going through Abraham’s mind but he obeyed at once. He got up early the next morning, took 2 young men (no doubt, that he was mentoring) and some wood and started on his journey. On the 3rd day… everything in the Bible seems to happen “on the 3rd day”. It is because on the 3rd day God created plants that had seed. The seed would produce from the fruit to make other seed. So on the 3rd day the fruit gets tested to see if it will conform to the seed. God had planted his seed in Abraham and his fruit was being tested. On the 3rd day Abraham saw the mountain that God wanted him to sacrifice Isaac on. He left the 2 men at the bottom and told them that just he and Isaac would go and worship then come back. Isaac had to carry his own wood up the mountain just as Jesus carried his own cross. Abraham took a lit torch and a knife. Abraham stood for God, the lit torch stood for the Holy Spirit and the knife stood for the Word of God. All these accompanied Jesus to the cross. When Isaac asked his father where the sacrifice was Abraham told him that God would provide himself a lamb which is exactly what God did. God himself became the lamb that was slain from the foundation of the earth.

Lord, we can’t even begin to understand your thoughts because they are too high for us, but we love your mysterious ways.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mon.’s Devo - Well of the Seven

Read Gen. 21:23-34

Meanwhile back with Abraham… Abimelech had discovered that Sarah was Abraham’s wife and he and Abraham are having parting words. Abimelech’s name means “my father is God” and it was. Because he knew God, he sensed the anointing and mantle that was on Abraham. He made Abraham promise that he would never harm him or his descendants and always remember the kindness he showed Abraham. Abraham swore that he would do that. Then Abraham rebuked Abimelech for letting his servants violently steal a well from Abraham’s servants. Abimelech said he didn’t even know it had happened. Wells were of great importance because they were the source of life especially for the animals. If, however, they were allowed to get out of repair, the person who restored them acquired a right to them. If the land that the well was on was unoccupied then whoever possessed the wells had the right to the property also. This was the cause of the offense for which Abraham reproved Abimelech. Then Abraham gave Abimelech a present of sheep and oxen and they both made a covenant with one another. Abraham took 7 ewes to be a reminder to Abimelech that this well was his. Beersheba means “well of the 7” and today there are 7 wells around this area. It is likely that they had to dig 4-5 miles through solid rock to make this well so it was a big deal to them. Abraham and many of the patriarchs spent much time here so it became significant. I wonder if it wasn’t a picture of a Gentile, Abimelech making a covenant with the first Jew, Abraham to stand by each other. Could Abmimelech stand for the church? In the end, the church will be the only people standing with Israel.

Lord, may we always love what you love and you love your covenant people, the Jews. Thank you for the rich heritage they give us.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fri.'s Devo - Living Waters

Read Gen. 21:14-22

I would have loved to be a fly on the wall when Abraham sent Hagar and his son away. I can only know that God gave him the grace to do it. Whenever I feel tested I’m going to think of Abraham. First, he is asked to send away his first-born and later he will be asked to sacrifice his promised child. I bet he wondered about God’s sanity. The thing is, God doesn’t do things that make sense to us, he does things that make sense to eternity. (That ought to be a famous quote!) Abraham gave her bread and water and sent her to the wilderness. That is a recipe for death without the Lord’s miraculous intervention. But, that is what happened. When Hagar ran out of provisions she sat Ishmael down and walked a couple hundred yards so she would not have to watch him die. How sad! She broke down and cried and the Lord spoke to her. He told her to pick the kid up as if dedicating him to God. God said he would live and become a great nation. Then God opened her eyes to see a well of water where they were sustained and learned how to live in the wilderness. Ishmael became a great archer so he could hunt and defend them. They lived in the desert of Paran and his mother got him a wife from Egypt. Egypt is the opposite of Canaan. Egypt means “double straits” which means double trouble. God’s land means “double blessings”.

Lord, thank you for providing for us in the middle of our deserts. Help us to be a cup of cool water to those that are thirsty.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thurs.’s Devo - Isaac’s Weaning brought Ishmael’s Expulsion

Gen. 21:1-13

Verse one should encourage us. God visited Sarah just as he said and did just what he had promised he would. God is faithful and will always do what he said he would do, but like in Sarah’s case, it is usually not fast enough for us. But it is always the best time. Abraham named his son Isaac which means “laughter; i.e. a mockery”. It was a mockery in the devil’s face and everyone else’s who said it could never happen. But, a woman who was past menapause had a baby and nursed him herself; what a miracle! I’m sure Isaac made them laugh many times. When Isaac was weaned, Abraham threw a party and Hagar made fun of it. I wonder if she got a party when Ishmael was weaned. I’m guessing not. Anyway, Sarah saw her do it which was not good. She went straight to Abraham and told him. Sarah saw this as an opportunity to get rid of any competition of Isaacs for the birthright so she told Abraham to throw them out. (Where was the DHS?) Abraham didn’t want to do this because he loved Ishmael but the Lord spoke to him and told him to do just as Sarah had asked because Isaac was to be the seed that God was calling his own. Ishmael would have his nations also, they just wouldn’t be called the Lord’s people. We don’t understand election because we are such a democratic people, but God doesn’t see everyone the same. He chose to love Jacob and hate Esau even before they were born. He chose who would be his before the foundation of the earth and we really don’t have a choice. The choice we have is how closely we will walk with him. ( Read Rom. 9)

Lord, we trust your choices for our lives even when we don’t understand them.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wed.’s Devo - God’s Deliverance

Read Gen. 20:9-34

Abimelech called Abraham in and confronted him about his lie. Abraham explained why he did it. He didn’t know that the king would be a righteous king who feared God so he did it to save his life. Then he explained that it was not a total lie because Sarah and Abraham had the same father, just not the same mother. It was not Sarah’s fault she lied, but his. Abimelech restored Sarah to him and gave him gifts of sheep, oxen, and slaves to take care of them. Then he told him he was welcome on his land. He also gave Abraham 1,000 pieces of silver. In return Abraham prayed to God to take away the curse on Abimelech’s family. God healed Abimelech’s family so that the women were able to bear children. What Abraham did was wrong. The devil takes the truth and twists it for his good which is what Abraham did. He would have done better to tell the truth in the beginning. He would have gotten the same results without the rebuke from the king and Sarah would not have had to spend the night wondering if she was going to be defiled by what she thought was an unrighteous king. Abraham should have trusted God to deliver them. The sweet thing about this story is that God is patient concerning Abraham and his faith. He always comes to Abraham’s rescue and blesses him when he takes responsibility for his lie. This should encourage us in our walk. God is not waiting to judge us, he is waiting to bless us. Lord, may we walk in truth, even if it is scary and hard.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tues.’s Devo - Abraham Visits Gerar

Read Gen. 20:1-8

Abraham is living in the land between Kadesh and Shur. Kadesh means a sanctuary in the desert and Shur means a place of observation. That sounds like a good place to be: where you are in God’s presence and lifted up where you can see the big picture. He travels to the land of Gerar which means to turn something over in your mind. Let’s see if we can figure out why it was called this by what happens. Abraham told Sarah when they reached Gerar to tell people she was his sister since she was so beautiful. He didn’t want to be killed for her. Sure enough, they came and took Sarah for the king, Abimelech because of her beauty. Abimelech means “my father is king”. Little did Abraham know that Abimelech’s father was God Almighty, king of all. Before the king could go and take Sarah as his wife God gave him a dream and showed him that Sarah was Abraham’s wife and he would die if he went into her. Abimelech asked God if he would also slay a righteous nation. Abimelech realized the responsibility he had as a leader. He knew that his sin to take another man’s wife would not only affect him, but his nation would be punished for his sin since he was the leader. David sinned against God and numbered the people and over 70,000 people were killed in God’s judgment. Abimelech explained to God how he had been lied to and he wasn’t willfully sinning. God assured him he knew and that it was him who kept Abimelech from having sex with Sarah. God told him to give Sarah back to Abraham in the morning and to let Abraham pray for him since Abraham was a prophet. Abimelech got up early to obey God. I think it was Abimelech that got his mind over and got his answer.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Mon.’s Devo - The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

Read Gen. 19:12-38

Once Lot and his family were safe, the angels revealed to Lot why they were there. They asked Lot if he had any relatives that were in the city because he needed to go get them. God was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of its wickedness. Lot went to tell his daughters and his sons-in-law but the sons-in-law thought he was crazy. His two daughters left with their father. As soon as it was morning the angels woke Lot up and told him to get his wife and his 2 daughters and follow them. Lot was having a hard time leaving so the angels had to take them by the hand and pull them with them out of the city. When they were out of the gates the angel told them to flee for their lives and not to look back or they would be consumed. He told them to go to the mountains. Lot, who had become too citified and used to comfort begged the angel not to send him to the mountains because he was afraid of the wild animals and having to fend for himself. So the angel relented and told him he could go to a little city nearby called Zoar. As soon as Lot entered the city of Zoar, God poured down sulphur and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot’s wife turned and watched and became a pillar of salt. Most scholars believe that Sodom was destroyed by a volcano which would rain down fire and sulphur. What ever it was, it was a picture of judgment. Where Sodom and Gomorrah were isolated cities, in the end, it will be the whole earth that will be destroyed by fire.

What always sticks out to me is the mercy God had for Lot. Lot resisted the whole way and yet the angels were determined to get him out. When you are living in the midst of sin it is easy to feel comfortable there and not realize how bad it has gotten. That is what happened to Lot and his whole family. Lot’s wife, escaped the city only to die on the edge of safety because her heart was back at the city.

Lord, remind us daily that this is not our home. Don’t let us be like Lot’s wife, so near, yet so far away from your heart.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Fri.’s Devo The Men of Sodom

Read Gen. 19:1-11

Now, we have only 2 angels so the Lord must have left them to do their job and he went back to heaven to do his. They reach Sodom first and appeared to Lot, one of the only righteous people in the city. Lot tried to convince them to stop and stay with him. In the middle east it is an unwritten commandment to be hospitable. They consider it an honor to have people stay with them. The angels turned Lot down at first saying they would stay in the street all night. Lot had to persuade them to stay with him knowing what happened at night in that city. It was evil and unsafe. They finally agreed to stay with Lot and he prepared them something to eat. But before they could retire to sleep, the men of the city came to get them and rape them. (We get the word sodomy from Sodom.) They were a city of homosexuals. Lot tried to beg with them not to harm his guests, even offering his own daughters to them. They didn’t like being judged by Lot and tried to force their way into Lot’s house through him. The angels reached out and pulled Lot into the house and shut the door. Then they struck all the men outside with blindness. Try as they might, they couldn’t find the door. This is a picture of the spiritual blindness they were in. Jesus is the door (John 10:9) but they were too blind to find it. Jesus called the Pharasees blind guides who were leading others even though they could not see themselves (Matt 23:14-26). In John 9:39, Jesus said, “For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.” The men of Sodom had so filled their heart with evil and perversion that they could not be converted. Their hearts were hardened so God had to bring judgment.

Lord, thank you for revealing the door to us and the way, the truth and that comes by entering it.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thurs.’s Devo - Judgment

Read Gen. 18:16-33

The angels get up to leave but the Lord stops them and decides he needs to let Abraham in on what he is fixing to do since Abraham is going to be so great on the earth. Then he says something pretty profound. He says that he knows that Abraham will instruct his children to be just and judge rightly and to walk in the ways of the Lord. What a great thing to say about a person! Then he goes on with what he is about to do, which is to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for their sin. Their sin has been crying out so loudly that it got God’s attention. God waits till sin reaches a certain measure before he destroys and apparently Sodom and Gomorrah’s sins had reached that measure. Abraham asks an age-old question: Will you destroy the righteous with the wicked? Abraham knew that Lot was living there so he was thinking of him. Then Abraham and God bat back and forth about how many righteous people it would take for God to relent his judgment. The last number was 10. There were over 100,000 people in these cities so the ratio of 10 to 100,000 was pretty good. Surely there would be 10…. but there wasn’t. Abraham was a true intercessor that pled for mercy for the people - even those who didn’t deserve it. This is what Jesus does for us. He intercedes for us and asks for mercy for us.

Lord, help us to have the heart of Abraham that we would desire mercy instead of judgment on your people.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wed.’s Devo- God Renews His Promise

Read Gen. 18:1-15

Abraham is sitting just inside his tent trying to keep cool from the heat of the day when all of a sudden he is surrounded by 3 men. He immediately recognizes them as angels and bows to the ground. He offers to wash their feet and sit them down for something to eat. They allow him to do this. He runs and tells Sarah to prepare 3 cakes then runs to the herd and selects the best calf to cook. He brings butter and milk and sets it all before his guests to eat. He doesn’t eat with them but waits on them as they eat. What a host! He gave of his very best before he knew if they were coming to bless him or not. I wonder if he recognized them from previous visits. They asked for Sarah to make sure she could hear what they had to say. When they found out she was just inside the tent they spoke on. They gave her the promise once again that she would have a son. She laughed to herself wondering how this was going to happen since she was way past having children. The Lord, who knows everything, asked her why she laughed. Then he said a profound statement, “Is any thing too hard for the Lord.” Sarah tried to deny laughing but he wouldn’t cut her any slack.

Several things stick out to me about this passage. 1) When you have an encounter with the Lord, everything takes a new perspective. Abraham didn’t think twice about preparing an elaborate, expensive meal for the Lord. 2) Even though the custom was to have the women out-of-sight, God wanted to include her in the experience. We may sometimes feel insignificant in the eyes of people, but we are never insignificant to God. 3) Sarah’s laughing did not change the promise. Our lack of faith won’t change what God has determined to do. God is patient toward us and merciful.

Lord, give us a new perspective of our earthly possessions that we give you the very best of all we have. Thank you that your mercy endures forever!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tues.'s Devo - The Promise of Isaac

Read Gen. 17:15-27

Sarai got a new name also: from Sarai to Sarah. They both mean “princess”. God blessed her and promised her a son who would produce nations and kings. I love Abraham’s response: he falls on the ground laughing thinking about how God is going to do this since he would be 100 and Sarah 90 when the baby came. Abraham was truly a man with a father’s heart because he immediately thought of Ismael and cried out for a blessing for him. God explained that Sarah would have a son and his name was to be Isaac. (Isaac means “he will laugh” - Abraham sure did!) In Isaac, God would establish this covenant, but he had not forgotten Ishmael. Ishmael will also be fruitful and become a great nation of 12 princes. Then God reiterates that his covenant is with Isaac, who shall come from Sarah.

After this encounter, Abraham took Ishmael and all the people in his household and circumcised them…what a day! He, at 99 was circumcised. Ishmael was 13. Abraham’s age meant a double harvest where Ishmael’s age meant rebellion. It makes me wonder if this wasn’t the beginning of Ishmael’s rebellion.

The story of Abraham and Sarah is such a reminder that God’s word never fails, even when it looks like time has run out.

Lord, thank you for stories like this that remind us that our times are in your hands.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Mon.’s Devo -From Abram to Abraham

Read Gen. 17:1-14

Eleven years have passed since Ishmael was born and all these years they think that Ishmael is the promised seed. God shows up to talk to Abram again. Not a face-to-face because Abram’s face is plastered to the ground and God did all the talking. The first thing God did was establish his relationship with Abram (“my covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations.”) Then he gave him a new name: Abraham. Abram meant “high father” but Abraham means “father of a multitude”. He told him again that he would multiply him and that he would be the father of many nations, be very rich, and many of his children would be the kings of these nations. He promises, once again, to give him all the land of Canaan forever. God just asks for one thing - which would be his covenant with Abraham. That covenant would be that every male would be circumcised. All babies 8 days old, every male grown or a child, and every slave not of his lineage. This would be the sign of whose was his and whose was not. It still is according to Col. 2:11 which says that in Jesus we are circumcised with the circumcision not made with hands, but by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ. This whole act in the Old Testament was to look forward to salvation of the New. Cutting off the foreskin was to signify us cutting off our fleshly desires. Everything that was born in their house or bought with their money had to be circumcised. God cares about everything that comes into our lives. It all needs to be “under his blood”. To not get circumcised meant you were cut off from being God’s people because you had broken the covenant.

Lord, truly your ways are not our ways but way past our understanding but we trust you.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Fri.’s Devo -The God Who Sees

Read Gen. 16:11-16

Hagar ran away from Sarai’s hard hand but I wonder if she even thought it through. God asked her where she had come from and where she was going and she didn’t even answer that question, she just went straight to her offense. The angel told her that she is pregnant which is not new news to her, but it verified to her who he was. This had to be comforting to Hagar, especially since he was asking her to go back and be treated badly. Not only did he assure her she was pregnant, but that she was carrying a son and that God was going to name him. That was a very important thing since names meant everything back then. He gave him the name Ishmael, which means “God will hear”. It was a special word to her that God had heard her plight and was coming to her rescue. If he hadn’t appeared to her she might not have lived long and God had plans for her and her son. God is the ultimate redeemer and redeems every situation. We cannot mess things up so badly that his hand cannot save and make right. Then God went on to describe what this boy would be like: a wild man who would seek revenge and have many enemies and few friends. Not exactly the prophecy you want for your son, but he was to play an important role in history. She renamed the place she was at to mean “the God who sees me”. She went from feeling alone and insignificant to knowing that God knew her and cared about her and her son. What a revelation. I’m sure this is what gave her the strength to go back to Sarai. She had the baby and named him Ishmael. Abram is 86 years old when Ishmael is born.

Lord, thank you for being such a personal God who cares about everything about us. Your plan is perfect.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Thurs.’s Devo - Sarai’s Solution

Read Gen. 15:18-16:10

God cut a covenant with Abram, but usually when you cut a covenant with a person both persons walk between the sacrifice. In this one, only God walked through the pieces of meat. This was to signify that he alone was obligated to do what the covenant said and it did not depend on Abram. What a picture of grace. It is hard for us to accept the fact that Jesus’ blood paid our debt and we don’t owe anything else. We just have to believe it by faith. God’s covenant with Abram was that he was giving him the land that the enemies of God owned. That is still the covenant God is offering to us. We can have the land that the enemy stole from God, if we will take possession of it. Sometimes our problem is the same as Abram’s: when we don’t see it happen we think we need to step in and help God. God had promised all this land to Abram’s seed and he was married to a barren woman. How was this going to happen? Since the problem was with Sarai, Sarai felt obligated to come up with a solution… her Egyptian maid, Hagar. After all, it had been 10 years since God had given his promise and maybe God had forgotten. This seemed like a good idea till Hagar actually got pregnant. Then the evil green monster: envy, totally consumed Sarai and she hated Hagar. So much so, that she went to Abram about it. He told her she could do what she wanted about it since it was her slave, so Sarai treated Hagar so badly she ran away. It was not a good thing to be a slave back then; you were considered property. God saw her as much more than that, and he followed her into the wilderness. She rested by a stream and God came to visit her in the form of an angel. He told her to return to Sarai and take whatever she doled out because the end is going to make it worth all the pain. Her seed would be multiplied because he was a seed of Abram’s.

In a world where comfort is considered godliness, this is hard to fathom, but God isn’t afraid of a little pain. He knows that it works a greater work in us than comfort ever will.

Lord, thank you for the trials you bring us in life. May they burn the chaff out of us that we might shine as pure gold.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Wed.’s Devo - Q & A’s

Reread Gen 15

Let’s break down yesterday’s reading a little more. I thought of several questions I have had and the answers I found as I researched them. Why did the Lord tell Abram to take these 5 animals? These were the animals that would be acceptable sacrifices later when God would give the law to Moses. All these animals pointed to the sacrifice of Jesus. The animal that people brought determined what they could give and what type of sacrifice they were doing. There was the sin offering, the trespass offering, the freewill offering, etc. If they were wealthy, they could give a heifer. If they were poor they gave a pigeon. All were acceptable to God.

Why did God say in the 4th generation they shall come out: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full? If you look in Ex. 5 it says, “5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me.” God was waiting till the 4th generation to judge the Amorites because he is merciful and he gave them the longest possible amount of time to repent.

What was the significance of the smoking furnace and the burning lamp? A furnace has to do with judgment and trials that produce a result. For some, the trial might cause them to rebel and become worse through the furnace, but to others it is a purifier and the result is pure gold. The only place the Bible mentions the smoke of a furnace is in Rev. when it is talking about the smoke that comes from the pit. (Rev. 9:2) The pit is referred to as a furnace. The burning lamp has to do with hope and revelation. The covenant that God was making with Abram was a two-edged sword, it would bring judgment (the 400 years of affliction) and light (their deliverance). God’s Word is like a smoking furnace to those who read it and disobey, or a burning lamp to those who read it and obey it.

Lord, help us to allow the burning lamp to lead us through all our lives.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Tues.’s Devo - Abram’s Vision

Read Gen. 15:1-17

After this great victory over the forces of darkness and his meeting with Melchizedec the Lord comes to Abram in a vision which is like a dream while you are awake. God promises Abram to be his protector and his reward. Abram wonders why God would do this for one generation since he had no children of his own. Just as he is wondering if God was going to give his future to his steward, Eliezer, God speaks. His heir is not Eliezer, but his heir would come from his loins. Then he told him to look at the stars because his dependents would be like them. There would be so many they would be uncountable. Abram believed what God told him and his belief became his right standing with God. It is still that way. Our belief determines our standing with God. It has always and will always be “by faith”. God also tells him that all this land will be his also. When Abram asks for a sign God willingly gives it. He tells Abram to take a 3-year old heifer, goat, ram, turtledove, and pigeon as a sacrifice. He was to divide the heifer, goat, and ram in half. He did this a waited. He had to keep the vultures away all day. When the sun was going down he went into a deep sleep and felt a darkness around him. God spoke out of this darkness and told him that his seed will be a stranger in a foreign land and be afflicted for 400 years. God will judge that nation and they will come out of it with great wealth. Abram himself, will die in peace after a long life. His 4th generation will come back to this land and conquer the Amorites once and for all. Then, when the sun had completely gone down, God lit the sacrifice. A smoking furnace and a burning lamp passed between the pieces. We’ll talk more about that tomorrow.

Lord, thank you that you are true to your promises even when we forget.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Mon.’s Devo - Melchizedek

Read Gen. 14:18-24

Who is this Melchizedek, king of Salem? His name should give us a clue: “king of righteousness”. He is the king of Salem which means “peace” and is an early name of Jerusalem. Jesus is both the king of righteousness and the king of peace. Jesus made many appearances in the Old Testament. He came as the manna, the bread out of heaven (John 6:31-36); the rock that followed them all through their wanderings (1 Co. 10:4); the Passover lamb, etc. If you still have doubts verse 18 says that he was the priest of the most high God. Hebrews 7 explains Melchizek as a type of Jesus. Jesus was a priest and a king even though he wasn’t born from the tribe of Levite. He proved that we can all be priests before him even if that is not our tribe. Melchizedek brought bread and wine which is a symbol of God’s Word and his Holy Spirit. He blessed Abram and Abram gave him a tithe of all his spoils. Then the king of Sodom came and tried to bless Abram. He told Abram to take all the material things of the people, but, just give him the people. Abram didn’t fall for his strategy. He gave him back everything. The devil will always work in our weakness to get us to fall. Abram didn’t want the king of Sodom getting any credit for what God was doing in his life. He knew that God had promised to make him rich and he was willing to let God do it in his timing. The only thing Abram would take was food to sustain the men who had come with him to fight.

Lord, thank you for being our priest and our king. Help us to wait on your promises and not be tempted to take the devil’s bait.