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Never Forget This One Thing (Genesis 30-31)

January 22, 2021

 42 If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God saw my affliction and the labor of my hands and rebuked you last night. Genesis 31:42

I confess, there are times when I fail to remember this one thing. Honest confession, I know why it happens. It happens when I become so busy with life that I forget this or I find myself trying to climb present mountains without living out this one thing. You ask, what is the one thing. Look closely and read with a mind focused this one thing:

GOD IS WITH YOU

When I get so busy with life’s struggles I turn my attention to the struggles and away from the one who is for me and who is working on my behalf. This truth is hovering over Jacobs story in Genesis 30-31. You remember Jacob, the man God called to follow Him.

Genesis 30-31 give us an overview of the 20 years Jacob spent in the service of his uncle Laban. Jacob’s uncle was even more of a deceiver than Jacob was. His uncle did everything he could to keep Jacob poor and in his service. But it did not work because God was with Jacob.

Brothers and sisters, never forget this: God is with you as He was with Jacob all those years ago. Who is this God?

  • He is the God of Abraham. This God established a family for Abraham.
  • He is the God of Isaac. This God was honored in this family.
  • He is the God of Jacob. This God cared for the family.

After 20 years of ups and downs God spoke to Jacob and said, I have kept my part of the covenant, it is time for you to keep your part and return home (30:13).

Jacob knew, if God had not been on his side, he would have never made it through the 20 tough years. Brothers and sisters, can we say the same thing. Look at how the Psalmist described this truth:

If it had not been the Lord who was on our side—
    let Israel now say—
if it had not been the Lord who was on our side
    when people rose up against us,
then they would have swallowed us up alive,
    when their anger was kindled against us;
then the flood would have swept us away,
    the torrent would have gone over us;
then over us would have gone
    the raging waters.

6 Blessed be the Lord,
    who has not given us
    as prey to their teeth!
We have escaped like a bird
    from the snare of the fowlers;
the snare is broken,
    and we have escaped!

Our help is in the name of the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth. Psalm 124

When I picture Jacob and his family along with all their possessions I see the hand of God. This view in my mind leads me to see God’s hand over my life since my conception. It is as if the Lord is saying, “Keith, never forget I am with you.”

Takeaways:

  1. Think back to your beginning days with God. What has He done in your life?
  2. It is time to rise up in your present storm and claim the promises of the God who is with you. Do it now, I John 5:14-15.

The Love we need (Genesis 27-29)

January 21, 2021

16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” Genesis 28:16

A couple of days ago I had the honor of talking with a very precious lady. We stood outside in a parking lot and talked for about 20 minutes. This lady has lived most of her life as a servant of the Lord. For the past 10 months she has practiced strict social distancing. As we talked I could see the pain that she has been going through. At one point her sorrow flooded out as she said, “I just want to be able to hug somebody.” I can tell you honestly that I have not been able to get that woman’s words out of my mind and heart. You and I know that life can be very difficult.

In our text for today, Jacob’s life became very difficult. But unlike this precious sister, his difficultly came because of his choices. Three things stand out from his story:

  • God’s hand was on his life-Jacob’s mother was told that God would bless Jacob to lead His people, 25:23.
  • Sins grip was on his life-Jacob listened (Gen. 27) to the voice of his mother and to his inner sinful voice instead of listening to God.
  • God’s grace kept working in his life.

I pray you take the time to read Genesis 28:10-17 for a second time. I see God extending love to Jacob in coming down to where he was. I see God showering Jacob with love by caring for him throughout his life. I see God continuing to bless Jacob in-spite of his many failures.

Jacobs words ring out loudly into my heart: “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”

This very moment God is at work in your life. He is near you as He is near my dear friend. I shared those words with her and encouraged her that God has everything under control. Dear friend, slow down and listen for Him to speak. Take time to just imagine His arms of love so tight around you in this very moment. Slow down and turn your eyes upon Him.

Two questions:

  1. In what ways do you know that God loves you? I John 3.
  2. What circumstances are robbing you of peace? Philippians 4:4-8. Give them to Jesus now.

Digging Another Well (Genesis 25-26)

January 20, 2021

22 And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name Rehoboth,[d] saying, “For now the Lord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.” Genesis 26:22

In those places, in our world, where there is little water supply, he who owns the water is often in control of everything. In the days of Abraham and Isaac, people had to dig wells to find water. The far east has countless numbers of dry wells through-out its deserts. In Genesis 26 we read how that Isaac began to dig again the wells that his father had dug. According to Scripture the Philistines had filled in Abraham’s wells. The point is clear, the enemy wants to destroy your connection to the water of life (John 7:36-37) which is Jesus Christ.

In Genesis 26 God mentions for wells dug by Isaac and his servants. Isaac gives the following names to these wells:

  • The well of contention, Vs: 20.
  • The well of hostility, Vs: 21.
  • The well of broad places, Vs: 22.
  • The well of covenant, Vs: 33.

I wonder, which well are you digging in today or maybe this month? Every day, as fellow Christ-followers, you and I are called to live life with intentionality. One of my favorite verses in Scripture is Ephesians 5:16 which says, “Redeem the time, because the days are evil,” KJV. The ESV begins as, “Make the best use of your time.”

Question, how do you and I make the best use of our time in whatever well God decides we need to dig in? We find our answer in Ephesians 5:17-18:

17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

When Paul writes, “do not be foolish,” I believe he is making reference to the wild emotional decisions Satan places in our minds when we are in the well of contention. I believe he is referring to the exhausted responses we give when we are in the well of hostility.

God intends for us to seek the Lord’s purpose and to seek to dig as God leads us to dig. This is what it means to understand the will of God. Once we see His purpose, the digging will still be hard in those wells, but it will be the Holy Spirit that guides us to experience the depths of broad places and a covenant that says, you will be victorious when you hit water (Romans 8:28).

2 Questions:

  1. What type of well are you digging in today?
  2. How will you leverage this well to grow and build the Kingdom of God?

Pay attention, this is important (Genesis 22-24)

January 19, 2021

15 And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his[d] enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”  Genesis 22:15-18

This past Saturday I met with a group of guys who made a commitment to each other to partner as brothers in Christ to make an impact in the world. It was an incredible moment. Possibly the most important moment was when they realized what they were doing was important.

Oh I hope you lean into the blog this day. I plead with you to pay attention because this in important. Everything you do either is a positive or negative impact on people’s lives. There is no middle ground.

In the Bible we find so many examples of people who were either a positive influence for the gospel or they were a negative influence. I must ask, which are you?

In our focal text, we read on of the most impactful moments in the life of Abraham. Chapter 22 has always been one of those chapters in the Bible that challenges me to obey God knowing that every decision counts.

Now to someone with zero knowledge of God’s Word, they would probably read this chapter and conclude that God was inhumane and barbaric for asking Abraham to sacrifice his son. However, if you know the context of what happened you realize God was placing before Abraham the following:

  • God was calling Abraham to give witness to his commitment to loyalty to God above everyone else.
  • God was calling Abraham to give humanity insight into the greater commitment of God in giving His own Son for the salvation of all people. (John 3:16)

I rejoice as I see a father who loves God above all others. I rejoice as I see a father who was willing to give his son into God’s hands. I rejoice when I see a father who’s son trust in his father’s decisions. I rejoice when the father receives a substitute for his son.

Question, did you see in Abraham’s story a picture of the gospel? Check out John 1:29; I Peter 1:19; Revelation 5:12-14.

I want to challenge you to grasp the impact of your life today! Truly your story can magnify the gospel.

Two questions:

  1. Are you ready to make impact today? I Peter 3:15. Ask God to use you right now.
  2. Are there things you need to remove from your life so that you can make greater impact? Take the time to remove them now, Psalm 32.

Go (Genesis 12-15)

January 18, 2021

12 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. ” Gen. 12:1

I love the story of Abram who later became Abraham. Most church historians believe that he and Job lived at the same time on the earth. When we meet Job he was already a follower of God. When we meet Abram he is following dead Gods (11:27-32).

Abram’ family had no connection to God, but there came that day when God came to Abram and spoke to him. The Bible records only one word of the conversation between God and Abram. . Here is the word, “go.” From this moment forward Abram lived a life of “going.”

Consider with me this one simple truth: To go anywhere you must fist leave where you are presently. The Bible records, “Abram followed the Lord.” Think about what he left behind:

  • He left his country (place of residence).
  • He left his relatives.
  • He left his family (all those close to him).

Here is another simple truth: Abraham was not leaving things behind, he was looking forward to things to come.

Certainly Abram’s journey was not perfect. He made mistakes along the way. However, he was always leaning forward. This is seen in its’s clearest form in Genesis 15 when Abraham settles in his heart that he “believed in the Lord.” Oh how important this was in his life. No one ever leaves where they are unless they believe in where they are headed.

In hopes of helping you understand the depths of my heart here, I want you to know that this days reading has caused me to ask myself, do I get up every morning leaving where I had been on the previous day seeking to walk with Him wherever He leads.

Brothers and sisters, we do not have to fear where God is leading us because He is our “sun and shield,” Ps. 84:11.

Take time to read James 2:14-26 and answer two questions:

  1. What are the things, places, and people you are trying to hold onto? Is this God’s way?
  2. What is God directing you toward this day?

Time with God (Job 40-42)

January 15, 2021

I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
    but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself,
    and repent[a] in dust and ashes. Job 42:5-6

There are certain people you always want to meet with. You know who they are. When the phone rings and its those people you answer right away. When they want to get together, you even clear your schedule to meet with them.

There are also certain people you really don’t want to meet with. You also know who they are. When the phone rings and you seek their name, you hope your voice-mail has ceased working. When they want to get together, you pray for a migraine so you can cancel the meeting.

Question: Do you long each day to meet with God or is it a chore?

If we were able to ask Job this question, I believe he would say, I longed to meet with God every day.

From Job one we discovered how Job was a man drawn by God to be in relationship with Him. Job was faithful in all his house. From Job two we discover how Job’s relationship with God was strong. Even when he lost everything, Job held fast to God. But then chapters 3-38 reveal to us Job’s heartbreak at not being able (in his views) to meet with God. Job wrongly believed God had left him to suffer and die.

But now that God had spoken to Job (Chapters 38-41), Job begins to repent. Brothers and sisters, sometimes we lose sight of who God is in the valley moments of our lives. In Job 42 Job was reminded of two things about God:

  1. God’s wisdom is far and I mean far beyond any human’s grasp (Job 38-39).
  2. God’s power is far and I mean far beyond any human’s ability (Job 40-41).

God’s fresh revelation to Job led to his repentance which led to his restoration as he prayed for his friends. Here is what I have, in summary, learned from my time with God in the book of Job:

“Trust God even when you cannot understand your circumstances.”

Brothers and sisters, time with God is what you and I desperately need every day!!!

Two questions:

  1. What is the hardest part of waiting on God?
  2. What have you learned in past times in waiting on God?

Check out I Kings 19 in your readings today.

Arguing With God (Job 38:1-40:2)

January 14, 2021

“Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?
    He who argues with God, let him answer it.” Job 40:2

My night was restless as I could not get certain subjects off my mind. I would sleep for a while and then I would be praying for a while. I am sure you have been where I was last night. When I awoke this morning, I came to Job 38-40. As I read God’s response to Job, I began to consider the content of my prayers before God.

Not to get to far ahead, I assume you remember Job. He was the guy who found himself in a great trial of faith. For 36 chapters in Job we have been watching as Job tries to figure out what was happening in his life.

In chapter 38 God begins to answer Job. He tells Job to man up (38:3). The next two chapters of Job always takes away my breath as I walk through God’s questions to Job. I sit in awe of the Creator. Each time God asks Job, where were you, I find myself feeling smaller and smaller in the universe. By the end of chapter 39 I feel like a flee on the earth.

Brothers and sisters, Job has been accusing and questioning the one True God. This is Almighty God that Job has been critical. Suddenly Job realized he had no grounds for his critical comments or his arguments.

Brothers and sisters, be assured God will someday answer (in His time) all the questions you have. But for now, God has called us not to be argumentative with Him, but to align with Him.

I can thankfully say, my prayers this morning were of intercession for people to align with the will of God. But I must confess there are those times when I do argue with God. Even in those times, it is because of grace that He works in my behalf.

2 Questions:

  1. According to Mark 8:31-33 Peter was arguing with God. What was the argument?
  2. Are you arguing with God? Read Philippians 4:4-9 and consider what your proper response should be to God.

What’s the Use? (Job 35-37)

January 13, 2021

that you ask, ‘What advantage have I?
    How am I better off than if I had sinned? Job 35:3

Be honest, have you ever wanted to give up on God? It seemed to the younger man that Job had given up on God. Elihu believed it was his calling (in that moment) to defend God’s character as well as to point out Job’s sin. In chapters 35-37 Elihu reminded Job and now you and I of specifics about our great God:

  • God himself is in charge of everything in this universe, 35:5.
  • God is kind and He gives us songs even in the night, 35:10-14.
  • God is just, 36:4-10.
  • God is eternal, 36:26.
  • God is wiser and greater than any man can comprehend, 37:5.

Elihu ended his defense with these words:

23 The Almighty—we cannot find him;
    he is great in power;
    justice and abundant righteousness he will not violate.
24 Therefore men fear him;
    he does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit.”

Brothers and sisters, if I had to sum up these chapters it would be like this: IT IS ALWAYS TO SOON TO GIVE UP ON GOD.

Please do not rush on by what you just read. Take the time to camp out here with Elihu and Job. Truly I take great comfort and great confidence in our God who is seated on the throne of eternity. Yes, since the day satan was cast out of Heaven, he has tried to impeach God, but he cannot.

This day I say to you: IT IS ALWAYS TO SOON TO GIVE UP ON GOD.

Take the time to read I Corinthians 1:26-31 and answer two questions:

  1. How do we sometimes think our way into a panic?
  2. In what ways has God revealed His greatness to you this week?

Filtering through other people’s opinions (Job 32-34)

January 12, 2021

17 I also will answer with my share;
    I also will declare my opinion.
18 For I am full of words;
    the spirit within me constrains me. Job 32:17-18

Brothers and sisters, I am always amazed at the on-time power of God’s Word. In every circumstance in life God’s Word is on-time and on-target!

Consider with me the heated arguments in our land today. Everyone seems to have their own opinion and everyone believes their opinion is correct. I honestly cannot grasp the diversity in people’s opinions.

Here is what God has taught me: I must filter everything I think and hear through God’s Word. This week I have heard opinion after opinion concerning our times. These opinions come from the deep-wells of people’s hearts. People often speak out of one of the following wells:

The well of a predisposed opinion. The well of anger or resentment. The well of a closed mind. The well of a mind saturated with God’s Word.

Which well do you currently draw from?

In the continuing debate between Job and his friends, we are introduced to a young man (32:1). His name was Elihu. He had (32:6) been patiently listening to the debate between Job and his friends. He had hoped they would arrive at the correct answer, but instead they had debated to a stand-off. Because things stalled out the young man could no longer hold his tongue any longer.

As he takes the floor to speak, he offers three statements about where his words were coming from:

  1. He declares his opinions are from God, 32:8.
  2. He declares that he will be impartial, 32:21.
  3. He declares that his heart is right with God, 33:3.

Brothers and sisters, who would not want to hear the opinion of someone who was this way? In chapters 32-34 we find his opinions. I must confess there is so much good theology in these chapters. I wrote down 8 theologically correct statements Elihu made about God. However, there was one thing that was not right about Elihu’s opinion. He did not know all that God knew (34:34-37). He thought he did, but he did not.

The older I get the more I realize how little I know. Yes I am growing in Christ and yes I am called to make wise decisions. But I must never think I know more than God or as much as God. I call upon Him every day because He alone has all wisdom. There have been many instances when I have spoken the wrong thing because I did not have all the facts.

Take time when filtering through what others say. Never be quick in response and never be prideful in thinking you know more than others. Take every opinion before God’s Word. He has the answer you need.

Two questions:

  1. Read Romans 12:3 and ask yourself about how you have been considering others opinions.
  2. Read Proverbs 3:5-6 and write down God’s directions for your life.

If I only knew (Job 29-31)

January 11, 2021

Oh, that I had one to hear me!
    (Here is my signature! Let the Almighty answer me!)
    Oh, that I had the indictment written by my adversary! Job 31:35

By this point in our journey with Job, it has become obvious that Job has exhausted himself in search for the answer for his Hell on earth season of life. Job has arrived at the place where he believed God was the source of his problems (30:19). Job was fully convinced that he would not recover. He accepted his fate. He spoke out of brokenness, “For I know that You will bring me to death and to the house appointed for all living,” 30:23.

I know that you know how devastating life becomes when we have no answer for why things are happening. Notice how much we have in common with Job:

  • Job looked back in mourning as he considered all that he had lost. In chapter 29, Job said, “I was in my prime.”
  • Job took inventory of his life and concluded that he was innocent of all wrong, (Job 31). I can honestly say, he was a far better servant than I am.
  • Job came to the place where there was nothing else left to be said, 31: 40 “the words of Job are ended.”

Brothers and sisters, I know we have the first two things in common with Job and we readily embrace them. But what about the the last point? Do you make it a point to be still before God each day? I want to challenge you with the true need of daily quiet time before God.

I believe there are times of testing sent to us by God for the sole purpose of leading us to be still before Him (Ps. 46:10). Maybe it’s time for you to be still even now? In chapter 32 the words of God ended and in chapter 38 God did speak. Could it be that God is waiting for our surrender to be silent?

Two assignments for the day:

  1. Read Isaiah 40:30-31 and listed to what God will say.
  2. Read Hebrews 11 and write down what God says to you.