Excerpt From “Consequences” – a resource coming in summer 2013

Abraham, the great patriarch, stands as an example of what it means to follow God by faith. He was a person who experienced God’s grace repeatedly. As wonderful as Abraham was, though, he was not perfect. There were some major sins in his life, which created repercussions that lasted for a long time.
God called Abram to leave his home and go to a place that God would show him and he did (Genesis 12:1). He left behind the idol worship of his family and followed the directions of the true God. When he arrived in Canaan, the first thing Abram did was build an altar to God. He journeyed further into the land and built another altar to the Lord. He has followed the call of God, been blessed, and in return offered thanks.
While Abram was obedient to God in leaving Ur and traveling to Canaan, it would seem from the biblical records that he was not completely obedient. Abram did not leave the pagan influences of his family behind. His father, Terah, traveled with him as far as Haran, where Abram lingered for awhile. After his father’s death, Abram continued on his journey but allowed his nephew, Lot, to tag along. These decisions would lead to trouble later on.
Abram is to be greatly commended for his faith in following God on a journey across the Arabian Peninsula. It is even more impressive when you realize that he was apparently the first person in his family to believe in Yahweh. It is easy, then, for us to excuse his lingering in Haran, or his failure to distance himself from his family’s influences. To do this, though, would be to make a mistake. While Abram did many great things for God, he compromised his beliefs more than once, developed a pattern of partial obedience, and through selfish actions caused others to suffer. The Bible is quick to write of its hero’s strengths and weaknesses, their victories and their defeats. By taking an honest look at Abram, we will see that even the greatest of men are flawed and in need of God’s forgiveness, power and grace.
After Abram has spent some time establishing himself in Canaan, a famine came and Abram left the Land of Promise and journeyed to Egypt. There is no record that he consulted God about the move. The events that follow seem to show that his lack of asking God for advice was a failure on Abram’s part. He shows a lack of trust in God by making the move. Surely, the God who had led and sustained him on the journey from Ur through Haran to Canaan could have sustained him there. Why would God lead him to a place without having a plan to bless him in spite of the circumstances?
Wouldn’t it have greatly strengthened Abram’s faith to see God blessing him with food in the midst of a famine? Wouldn’t it have confirmed that this is, indeed, where he was supposed to be? However, Abram goes to Egypt. He stops walking by faith and begins to walk by sight. He knows that there is food in Egypt so he picks up and moves on. By doing so, he places himself and his family in a life-threatening situation.
It seems Abram has married a very attractive woman in his wife Sarai. Since the Bible rarely comments on a person’s physical features, Sarai must have been a strikingly beautiful woman. She is so beautiful, Abram is afraid that she will catch the attention of Pharaoh when they go to buy food. He reasons that if Pharaoh sees her and desires her for his harem that he will kill Abram to get her. Therefore, Abram lies about his relationship to Sarai.
Sarai was Abram’s half-sister , but she was also his wife. That relationship should have taken priority in his mind. It also would not be the last time Abram used this deception, as we will see later on. Can you imagine how this must have made his wife feel? He was willing to subjugate her to a humiliating experience, just to save his own skin. Can you see her face, read her emotions, as she realizes that he is not the protector she has grown to depend on? One of a woman’s greatest needs is to see her husband as her champion – a lot of her security is tied up in this. Abram’s treatment of Sarai will have repercussions later on, in how his son Isaac treats his wife Rebekah, as we will see in a later chapter. It would seem that some lessons are passed on, albeit unintentionally.
Abram intended to deceive the Egyptians so he is guilty of lying. Is it ever right to lie? Even a “white” lie? God gives His opinion on the subject in many places, including Exodus 20:16. How many times do we try to justify our actions by rationalizing them away like Abram did? If we are called to be holy people, representing the character of God to a watching world, then we need to make sure we are not guilty of speaking with lying lips.
Because of Abram’s lie, Sarai was taken to the harem of Pharaoh to become one of his wives. This would of placed Sarai in the position of becoming an adulteress. God intervened, and Pharaoh and his household were afflicted, by the Lord, with severe diseases before he could bed Sarai. This begs the question, based on this account, how does sin affect others?
Pharaoh and his house are being punished. He does not know Sarai is anyone’s wife. He has been lied to. Certainly, his household is not guilty of anything. Yet because of Abram’s cowardice and lying, they are being afflicted. Abram is displaying an incredible lack of faith or trust in the Lord. Lack of faith in God’s being able to provide food in Canaan. He is showing a lack of trusting that God will protect him and Sarai in Egypt. Abram is not acting like the father of the faithful right now.
What do you believe would have been Pharaoh’s response, if, after Abram had been caught in his lie, he then would have tried to witness to Pharaoh concerning the goodness, protection and value in worshipping Abram’s God? Could it be that unbelievers may choose to remain unbelievers because of the lack of truthfulness among God’s people? How do we remedy a situation like that of Abram, so that unbelievers will receive our testimony?
Abram did not completely obey and his bringing Lot with him to Egypt would lead to no end of problems. Lot would see Abram’s cowardice on display. Is it any wonder that Lot grows up willing to sacrifice his daughters to save his own skin?
In leaving the land of Canaan and going to find security in the land of Pharaoh, instead of in the Lord God, Abram makes a colossal mistake. Called on the carpet by a pagan ruler, Abram has no defense. He has traded his wife for wealth, his helpmate for possessions, and has been chastised severely. Only by the grace of God is he not put to death by Pharaoh. In addition, he is allowed to keep all that he had received in trading Sarai to Pharaoh.
Abram is kicked out of Egypt and wanders back to Bethel. It is there that problems between Lot and him come to a head. Abram has journeyed a long way but has been unwilling to completely obey God. It will not be until years later that Abram comes to the point where he is willing to be completely devoted to God. His story is lot like ours. We wander for years, sometimes decades, on our spiritual journey before we completely turn our lives over to God’s leadership.
Many people, unfortunately, never reach the point of complete obedience. In fact, if we were brutally honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that none of us is completely obedient to our God.

Preconceived Notions

Recently, as I was leading a small group study through the book of James, I was convicted by a passage we were studying. We were studying the verses on not showing favoritism based on wealth, which led us to talk about the preconceived notions about people we all hold. As we continued to talk, I was recalling the three new people that were supposed to be hired at a place where I work part-time. All we received in our department was a brief summary – names, approximate ages, background, of the new workers. How I was mortified to realize that my co-workers and I had already decided which ones would work out and which ones would not make it through the probationary period. The only one who made it – the one who we had decided wouldn’t last.

It was a humbling experience to realize that I had prejudged people I didn’t even know, which colored the way I acted towards them. Seeing this tendency in my own life, I was reminded again how deceptive the heart is. Thanks be to God who sees the inside, the heart, of all people and loves us anyway. In order to be a Christ-like witness in the world, I must learn to see people as He does, and to see myself as I truly am – a sinful creature completely dependent on the grace, strength and mercy of God. May God continue to transform me into someone who represents Him in the way I act towards people.

Hymn Devotions Day 29 – Nothing But The Blood

DAY 29 – NOTHING BUT THE BLOOD

               Hebrews 9:22 tells us that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. Other parts of the Bible tell us that only the blood of the perfect Lamb of God, Jesus, suffices to pay sin’s penalty. This song is a tribute to Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross.

Only Jesus can provide forgiveness of sin. Only Jesus can restore our true humanity. Only Jesus can pardon our crimes and atone for our trespasses against God’s laws. Only Jesus can bring healing, peace and comfort.

Our religion is a bloody one. Life is found in the blood and so only a blood sacrifice suffices as payment. Jesus is the only one able to be a perfect sacrifice, as He is the only one to never sin. Let us never be ashamed to sing of His shed blood. Those outside of God’s kingdom may be offended, thinking we are brutal, uncivilized barbarians for focusing on blood, sacrifice, crucifixion and the like. We know why they are important. We know the true history of mankind. We know the story of God’s redemption. We know why it was necessary for Jesus to die in our place.

Let us confidently proclaim our belief, our truth, our Savior. Let us sing out praises to Him who shed His blood on our behalf. Let us glory in our King, who was crucified and who rose again, conquering death. How precious is the blood of Jesus, that purifies me of my sin.

 

Thank You, Lord, for shedding Your blood for me. There is no other who can save. There is none who compares with You. You paid the price for me. Help me to become worthy of Your sacrifice by making me, molding me, into Your image.

 

NOTHING BUT THE BLOOD – Robert Lowry

What can wash away my sin?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

What can make me whole again?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

 

For my pardon, this I see

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

For my cleansing, this my plea

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

 

Nothing can for sin atone

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

Naught of good that I have done

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

 

This is all my hope and peace

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

This is all my righteousness

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

 

Now by this I’ll overcome

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

Now by this I’ll reach my home

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

 

Glory! Glory! This I sing

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

All my praise for this I bring

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

 

REFRAIN:

 

Oh! precious, is the flow, that make me white as snow

No other fount I know, Nothing but the blood of Jesus

 

 

Hymn Devotions Day 25 – O For A Thousands Tongues

 

DAY 25 – O FOR A THOUSAND TONGUES

               For this day, I have chosen to include all the verses that Charles Wesley wrote. This song was his celebration of the one year anniversary of his salvation, and what a great tribute to the Lord it is.

I know that not all of us remember the date of our salvation, but why not make it a practice to designate one day a year (if you do remember the date, use it) to write a poem of thanks to the Lord for His great salvation?

If  you cannot write a poem, maybe a prayer or a song or draw a picture of thanks would be possible. Take some time studying Wesley’s poem for inspiration.

Since we don’t have a thousand tongues to sing with, why not use the one we have in a thousand ways? Join with brothers and sisters and together we can raise hundreds of thousands of tongues in harmony to praise the King of Kings.

I particularly love the verse that talks about how Jesus’ blood makes even the foulest sinner clean, even me. When I reflect on my numerous sins, I am amazed that God would want to save me. I am so grateful that His mercy and grace was given to me, the most undeserving person I know. Wesley puts it so well toward the end of his poem – harlots, publicans, thieves – saved is the sinner that believes from crimes as great as mine. Their sins are no worse than mine, their punishment is the same, eternal damnation unless they, just like I, repent and throw ourselves on the mercy of Jesus. How wonderful to know He forgives sins and pardons the sinner.

 

Lord, help me to use the tongue I have to always praise Your name. Help me use it to witness for You, witness of You, and testify of Your great mercy and forgiveness. Help me to proclaim Your salvation to all.

O FOR A THOUSAND TONGUES – Charles Wesley

 

O for a thousand tongues to sing My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King, The triumphs of His grace!

My gracious Master and my God, Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad The honors of Thy name.

Jesus! the name that charms our fears, That bids our sorrows cease;
’Tis music in the sinner’s ears, ’Tis life, and health, and peace.

He breaks the power of canceled sin, He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean, His blood availed for me.

He speaks, and, listening to His voice, New life the dead receive,
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice, The humble poor believe.

Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb, Your loosened tongues employ;
Ye blind, behold your Savior come, And leap, ye lame, for joy.

In Christ your Head, you then shall know, Shall feel your sins forgiven;
Anticipate your heaven below, And own that love is heaven.

Glory to God, and praise and love Be ever, ever given,
By saints below and saints above, The church in earth and heaven.

On this glad day the glorious Sun Of Righteousness arose;
On my benighted soul He shone And filled it with repose.

Sudden expired the legal strife, ’Twas then I ceased to grieve;
My second, real, living life I then began to live.

Then with my heart I first believed, Believed with faith divine,
Power with the Holy Ghost received To call the Savior mine.

I felt my Lord’s atoning blood Close to my soul applied;
Me, me He loved, the Son of God, For me, for me He died!

I found and owned His promise true, Ascertained of my part,
My pardon passed in heaven I knew  When written on my heart.

Look unto Him, ye nations, own Your God, ye fallen race;
Look, and be saved through faith alone, Be justified by grace.

See all your sins on Jesus laid: The Lamb of God was slain,
His soul was once an offering made For every soul of man.

Awake from guilty nature’s sleep, And Christ shall give you light,
Cast all your sins into the deep, And wash the Æthiop white.

Harlots and publicans and thieves In holy triumph join!
Saved is the sinner that believes From crimes as great as mine.

Murderers and all ye hellish crew In holy triumph join!
Believe the Savior died for you; For me the Savior died.

With me, your chief, ye then shall know, Shall feel your sins forgiven;
Anticipate your heaven below, And own that love is heaven.

 

 

Great Quotes From Ages Past #9

Here is a great quote from the “Prince of Preachers”

If you have been truly born again you have a new and holy nature, and you are no longer moved towards sinful objects as you were before. The things that you once loved you now hate, and therefore you will not run after them.  You can hardly understand it but so it is that your thoughts and tastes are radically changed. You long for that very holiness which once it was irksome to hear of; and you loathe those vain pursuits which were once your delights. The man who puts his trust in the Lord sees the pleasures of sin in a new light.  For he sees the evil which follows them by noting the agonies which they brought upon our Lord when He bore our sins in His own body on the tree. Without faith a man says to himself, “This sin is a very pleasant thing, why should I not enjoy it? Surely I may eat this fruit, which looks so charming and is so much to be desired.” The flesh sees honey in the drink, but faith at once perceives that there is poison in the cup. Faith spies the snake in the grass and gives warning of it. Faith remembers death, judgment, the great reward, the just punishment and that dread word, eternity.

C.H. Spurgeon

Great Quotes From Ages Past #8

A double helping of quotes this morning, these on the subject of anger:

A man who does not know how to be angry does not know how to be good.  And a man that does not know how to be shaken to his heart’s core with indignation over things evil is either a fungus or a wicked man.

 Henry Ward Beecher


If we would be angry and not sin (says one), we must be angry at nothing but sin; and we should be more jealous for the glory of God than for any interest or reputation of our own.

Matthew Henry