Reading the Bible in Three Years

Genesis 17 (January 17)

                                                                                               Two Circumcisions

            “Every male among you shall be circumcised.”

            What does it mean to be circumcised in the twenty first century?  To be circumcised is to reveal that which was hidden, to open that which was closed.  Circumcision is still practiced today, and it has proven to be a very healthy and sanitary practice.

            In Old Testament times, circumcision was the outward sign of the Abrahamic covenant, and it was applied to the foreskin of the male reproductive organ.  This practice was continued all the way to the time of Jesus (Luke 2:21).

            But even in the Old Testament, God made sufficiently clear, that circumcision was worthless, if it was not accompanied by a sincere commitment of the heart.  In other words, the Israelites were commanded to circumcise their foreskins and their hearts.

            This is what God demands from you, child of God!  Our minds and hearts must be open by God through the deep incision of the Word (Hebrews 4:12).  This is what the apostle meant when he exhorted the Romans to “... renew their minds...” (Romans 12:2). This daily exercise requires a conscious effort on our part, to come to God asking him to remove any sin or worldly encumbrance, and to make us holy in his sight.

            A circumcised heart, (either from a man or a woman) is a heart that is open before the Lord, nothing to hide there; there are no “closed doors.”  God is free to roam around and to dictate his will.  One may be circumcised physically and be on his way to Hell; but the circumcised heart is already in Heaven for God lives there.

            Open my heart today Lord.

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Genesis 16 (January 16)

                                                                                                      Two Looks         

            “... she looked on me with contempt.”

            How do you look at those that surround you?

            “If looks could kill...” is an old saying that depicts the way we sometimes look at another person with hatred in our eyes.  Everyone is guilty in this regard, for we have shown our disgust or anger through our eyes on many occasions.  “But people have hurt me!”  You reply.  It’s true.  Even Hagar displayed a look of disdain for her mistress Sarai.

            How do you look at those that surround you?

            We are surrounded by evil.  We live in a post-Christian society.  It is clear then that we should expect hatred, criticism and all kinds of unjust persecution.  A Christian that expects love and appreciation from the world is hallucinating at best, and compromising his daily walk with the Lord, at the very worst.

            “You are the God who sees.”

            Was Hagar wrong in looking with evil contempt?  Of course.  Nevertheless, there was not a hint of anger in God’s eyes.  He despises our sins, but his gaze his full of grace towards his children.  In God’s eyes we are winners, because he looks at us through his Son, and everything he sees is filtered by love and compassion.

            How do you look at those that surround you?

            There are only two ways, either with worldly hatred or through divine love.  The worldly look is easy, and freely available to all.  Even Christians can learn to stare in this manner.  The divine look however, is only possible for Christians who are full of God.

            Fix your eyes on Jesus and then you will be able to look at others through Him.

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Genesis 14 (January 14)

                                                                                                   Rescue Mission

            “He divided his forces against them by night...”

            There was a time in my life when my innermost desire was to become a full-fledge firefighter.  I was awestruck by the “glamour” that this profession was offering, such as becoming an everyday hero, walking out  burning buildings with babies in my arms, and rescuing little old ladies. 

            Although I still relish the role of a hero (I have been involved in a few minor rescue missions), firefighting does not hold the same appeal, since it involves dealing with injuries, burns and blood.  I wanted to be a “hero”, not a doctor.

            Abram was, no doubt, a man of peace.  The last thing in his mind was probably to get involved in a rescue operation, even less a war, but he was forced to do it.  Lot, his foolish nephew, had been taken captive by the enemy, and it was up to Abram to save him.  He attacked by night the enemy camp and was rewarded with a complete victory.

            God is extending an invitation to would-be heroes, to enlist in the most fantastic and rewarding rescue mission.  This is not for the faint hearted, or lukewarm Christian, for it requires complete devotion to God.  The mission:  To attack the forces of darkness and rescue as many souls as we can from our spiritual enemy.

            “Then he brought back all the goods...”

            Jesus came to “seek out and save the lost” (Luke 19:10).  His mission is in need of courageous volunteers, who would carry the torch of the Gospel, to the prisoners in the kingdom of darkness and despair. His mission is not impossible.

            Will you respond to God’s call today?

                

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Genesis 15 (January 15)

                                                                                                   Three Rewards

       “... your reward shall be very great.”

New Position ... and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.”

            In Christ we have a new position or legal status before God.  We have been totally justified from the penalty of sin, we have been adopted as children of God and we are now “...joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17).  All this comes as a result of our conversion.  Have you been truly converted?  

New Family   “... count the stars, if you are able to count them.”

            As children of God we enjoy many blessings and privileges, such as belonging to a brand new family, the family of God.  Every true believer is part of this blessed and eternal family, where God is the Father and we are brothers and sisters. 

            I have found that in most cases, the family of God has been closer and more helpful than any relative in the flesh.   We are united in the same Spirit, and we worship the same God.  One day we will have a complete family reunion in heaven.  On that great day we shall be like the stars, not only in “number,” but in splendor and eternal glory.

New Possession   ...to give you this land to possess.”

            The third reward is our heavenly inheritance.  To Abram, God promised the land, to the Christians, Jesus promises heaven.  He has prepared a special place for us in glory through his sacrificial death on the cross.  Jesus is our “admission ticket” into heaven.  He is the only way to the Father (John 14:6).  If you have not made your reservation yet, call on Jesus; He is standing by twenty four hours a day ... He will take your call.

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Genesis 13 (January 13)

                                                                                                          Down but Up

            “So Abram went up from Egypt...”

            The only difference between an unbeliever and a Christian is Christ in the heart of the believer.  As Christians, we fall into temptation and sin just like the ungodly do, but as Bob Carlyle sings:

           “We fall down, we get up and the saint is just a sinner that falls down and gets up.”

            Jesus is our strength, he lifts us up when we are down, he forgives us when we confess our sins and gives us the wisdom to choose better the next time we are tempted.  The popular Christian group Audio Adrenaline testifies about this in their song “Get down.” You might not enjoy the rhythm, but the message is clear:  God lifts us up.

            “...to the place where he had made an altar...”

            Abram ascended from Egypt and returned to Canaan, to the altar, to God.  In the same manner we must return to the Lord.  All of us have fallen down one time or another, but we need to be as resilient as a boxing champion.  A true champ may fall in the ring, but he will find a way to get up, return to the fight and win.

            “Abram settled in the land of Canaan...” 

            Abram’s example is worthy of emulation.  His sin was great, but so was his recovery.  How did he do it?  He went up from Egypt (the place of temptation and sin), returned to Canaan (the place where God had called him to be in), and settled once again in the Promised Land (the place where God was waiting for him).                                                       

             God’s will for our lives is to be, not near, around, or even close to him, but in Him.  Let us return to our first love; let us come back to our Lord.

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