The Sabbath may be one of the most misunderstood gifts of God. He has made it available as a gift to be opened and enjoyed. It is a special place in time–a sanctuary where time can be spent with him, delighting in his pleasure.
The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD. Then Abraham approached him and said, “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” Genesis 18:22
I have tried repeatedly to imagine this scene. The LORD (a pre-incarnate visit from Jesus) is engaged with Abraham in a special way. Abraham has just finished serving the LORD—literally! He has served Him a meal and had a time of sweet fellowship with Him and now, they enter into a face-to face conversation. It is a discussion that allows Abraham to know God even more. Abraham is talking to God in the interest of others. This is intercessory prayer. It is mediating for others. It is an example for me. Abraham could have been ambivalent toward a city that had become defiled beyond hope. He could have stood in judgment and told God that it was about time the city was destroyed, but instead, he interceded. He was not asking God to change His mind; rather, he was asking God to act according to His changeless nature. God assured him that He was. I want to be an intercessor. I long to pray for those who seem most lost—even those with whom I may be at odds. As I understand that God must judge the wicked, I need to plead for them. I also need to pray for the righteous. I long to be in intimate conversation with my LORD, asking Him to have my heart align with His.
Lord, help me become an intercessor. Help me search Your heart and have my heart align fully with Yours. Please help me plead for others. Amen.
She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” Genesis 16:13
God sees Hagar in her moment of deep despair. She gives Him a name that has brought comfort to countless people since then. EL-ROI: God of seeing. The God who sees me. God sees me. God sees the circumstances in Hagar’s life. She is a maidservant—a slave. She is one who must obey what she is told. I cannot even begin to imagine all the emotions in the lives of Abram, Sarai, and Hagar. I try to imagine all that was happening (beyond the obvious) that would have caused Hagar to despise Sarai. Eventually, all began to feel hopeless. Decisions had been made that caused angst and conflict and there was no apparent resolution. Hagar fled in despair.
God saw the entire situation as it unfolded. He saw every tear, every thought, every inclination of every heart involved, and He saw how it would fit into His plan. God revealed Himself to Hagar and let her know that He had seen what was happening. He did not “fix” the issue. He just let her know that He saw it, and told her that He was sovereign over it. That brought her peace. I must learn to rest in the fact that God sees everything that is happening in my life and He is working it out for His good. He sees me even when I feel as though I am unseen.
Dear Lord, please bring peace into my life knowing that You see me—and every other person and situation and circumstance. Remind me often of Your sovereignty. Amen.
There Abram called on the name of the LORD. Genesis 13:4b
As Genesis continues to reveal the life of Abraham, we see his character develop. In times of great decision, where do I go? Abram shows us a great example of where to go for wisdom and guidance. He calls on the name of the LORD. As he returns to the land that God said would be his, he returns to the place he first worshiped and He once again seeks the LORD.
Abram’s faith and knowledge of God is growing. He is learning who God is. To call on the name of the LORD is to turn to Him for direction. It means I recognize all that God is and all that He stands for, and that I release my agenda to His. As I call on the name of the LORD, I am consciously submitting my will to His (remember Jesus in Luke 22:42). I am stopping to allow Him to lead and guide. There will be major events that happen in Abram’s life. He moves under God’s blessing (14:19) because he recognizes God as Most High (14:22). This moves me to find regular times and places to call on the name of the LORD Most High, and submit my will to His.
Dear Lord, please help me to call on Your name often and regularly. Take my will and make it fully Yours. Help me to surrender all that I am and all that I have to You and to watch for Your leading and guiding amidst the daily distractions of my life. Amen.
Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the earth. Genesis 11:4
So, here is the issue of worship at its core. God calls me to worship Him and my flesh wants only to worship myself. The tower was being built to directly oppose the command of God. He had said that the people should spread out. They were building the tower so they would not have to obey. They were worshiping their own thoughts and desires.
How will I worship God? How will I worship Him alone? How many times have I started building a tower of my own thoughts that are actually in opposition to God? What are my towers of disobedience? I must tear them down so that I can worship my sweet, precious God in spirit and in truth and in obedience.
Dear Lord, please show me all the areas in my life that place me in opposition to You. Show me the towers of disobedience in my life and lead me to the beautiful adoration of You for which I have been designed. You alone are worthy of my praise and my worship. Amen
And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come. I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” Genesis 9:12-13
God made this covenant. It is a promise based upon His faithfulness that He will never again destroy the world by a flood. It is a reminder for Him—but also for me. When I see a rainbow, wherever that may be, I am reminded of the faithfulness of God. I am reminded that He has made a promise—initially to Noah, but all humanity is included. God will never again destroy all life by a flood. But also, I am reminded that God judges sin. God does not say that the rainbow is a reminder that He is no longer concerned about sin. Indeed, He is—so much so, that He sent His Son to take that penalty. God’s promise reminds me that He values His created ones. By His grace and mercy, He reaches out to us. By His righteousness, holiness and justice, He requires repentance and obedience. The rainbow reminds me of both. The rainbow also calls me to remember that there will come a final day of judgment that will purify all creation. It impacts how I live. It is not a license to sin, which would be a misunderstanding of God’s promise; rather, it is a reason for respect and awe.
Dear God, thank You for Your promise. Thank you for being a God who is trustworthy. Thank You for demanding holiness and for giving the means for that to happen. Amen
Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. Genesis 8:20-21
The sacrifices that Noah offered moved the heart of God. Perhaps it would be better to say that the heart with which Noah offered the sacrifices moved the heart of God. God judges motive. The first thing we are told that Noah did when he left the ark was to build an altar and offer sacrifices to the LORD.
Romans 12:1-2 calls me to be a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This is the offering I am called to bring—myself on the altar. It allows me to demonstrate that I trust myself fully to God. I recognize that He is in control. My heart belongs to Him. I give it to Him freely and fully. This is the type of offering I can bring that will move the heart of God. This is true worship. That is why many times, as I contemplate the privilege of bringing this offering, I burst into song of praise to my Rock and my Redeemer. He is exalted, the King is exalted on high. I will praise Him with my offering.
Dear LORD, how I praise you for your unfailing and never-changing love for the creation You have made. Thank you for considering my offerings as a sweet aroma. I pray that You find my heart given over fully to You in my offering of praise. Amen.
Enoch walked with God; and then he was no more, because God took him away. Genesis 5:24
Enoch walked with God for 300 years. The Septuagint translates this as “well-pleasing.” For 300 years, Enoch was well-pleasing to God. The same is said of Noah in 6:9. Both of these men were recognized specially by God because they were well-pleasing to Him.
Enoch was so well-pleasing to God that God just took him away! We are given no indication whatsoever that Enoch or Noah had any sort of motive for being well-pleasing to God other than an understanding of who He is. They were well-pleasing to God in an era when that would require great faith. They stand as stellar examples for me. I long to be well-pleasing to God. I long to know Him well and to quickly serve Him when He leads. I want my life to be all about Him so that He is my every breath and thought. I want Him to know that He can count on me. If He needs me to stand for Him when no one else will, I will do everything just as God commands me (6:22). I wonder how many others have been “taken away” just because they were well-pleasing to God? Sometimes we have a hard time understanding the working of our mighty God, but I trust that He is caring deeply for each of His adopted children.
Lord, please help me live in such a way that I am well-pleasing to You. Please see the desire of my heart to be all that You have made me to be. Amen.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1
Revelation 12:9 reveals that this serpent, who is so very crafty, is Satan. While he is crafty, his story really hasn’t changed all that much. It is very predictable and, as such, I should be much better at recognizing it and calling it what it is. But for some reason, his age-old lie still carries power, mainly because I give it power. I listen to the lying voice of the one who hates me instead of listening to the voice of truth spoken by the Lover of my soul—the One who created me for His pleasure.
The lie of the serpent that I so easily believe convinces me that am entitled to something which God has revealed is harmful for me. And so, I sin. I choose to take that which I want even though I know it is against God’s revealed best plan. I hold on to the thought that I am somehow better suited to choose what is best for me. And the crafty serpent wins yet again. I must remind myself often that God has not withheld His best from me, even though that is what Satan would have me believe. God has lavished me with every good thing I need. I must learn to be satisfied with His provision.
Dear Lord, please help me hear Your voice of truth and may it drown out the voice of the crafty liar. May I be satisfied with Your provision and not seek more. Amen.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. Genesis 2:2-3
In the beginning, a glimpse is given of that which was undistorted by sin. Resting on the seventh day is part of that design. God sets a day apart and makes it holy. He creates a sanctuary in time in which men and women can come to worship Him. It is the Sabbath. That is the meaning of the word we translate as “rest.” It means “to cease.” God rested—not because He was weary. God rested to set aside a day for His children to rest. Eventually it would become a commandment, but first it was a gift (Exodus 16:29). Most people shrug off this gift and do not care to open it. It is a shame. Many people boast of their workload and how much they do. This exhibits a lack of self-control. God has designed us for rest. He has designed us to cease on the seventh day. How have I viewed the Sabbath? Is it a priority for me? This text calls me to worship God in this special sanctuary of time each week, as the Sabbath comes to remind me that I have been given permission to cease from the busyness of the world.
Dear Lord, please search me in this. Do I rest? Do I cease? How have I rationalized Sabbath out of my life? Help me open and value the gift of the Sabbath each week as I look forward to special time with you. Amen.
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” Revelation 5:13
Forever and ever. Amen. The choir that is singing to the Lamb grows yet again! Every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. All creation singing praise to God the Father and the Lamb—the Son. Every knee shall bow, and every tongue will confess. All creation. Imagine this moment! It is the moment right before the first seal is broken. In one way, it is anticipatory praise in that it is an eternal song—forever and ever. In this scene we get a glimpse of why corporate worship is so important. As more and more voices and hearts are added to the praise and worship the crescendo builds and builds to untold volume and yet contains crystal clear clarity and unity. It is as we come together and as we bring our individual voices and hearts of worship that have been proclaiming the worth of God nonstop during the week that we begin to see this imagined on earth. We encourage one another to stay focused on the One who is worthy. It reminds us that we are part of a whole—the family of God. The worship service on earth is a family reunion of sorts and it is a foretaste of the eternal choir we are part of on earth as we await the eternal presence. It is critical to maintain the unity for which Jesus prayed in John 17. Thanksgiving is the entry to worship, but prolonged attendance in the presence of God brings a depth of worship that draws a person into closeness with God and a desire to be close with and in unity with others who are drawn in as well. We will be part of this eternal song forever and ever. And the four living creatures said, “Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshiped. What does it look like for you to join in with others to praise God and to know him more? Today ponder how you may prepare your heart to be part of a worship experience with other believers tomorrow. As you come together how can the glimpse into the door of Heaven impact your worship here on earth?