Do you know how to respond? Do you know what to do? Do you know where to go? Do you know where to turn? We know from Jesus that in this world we will have troubles and we also know that we can have hope because He overcame the world! We also have the advice as we go thru the many trials of this life that we should consider it pure joy since the testing of your faith produces perseverance and when we let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. The storms, the trials, the troubles may be big or small, they may be of varying shapes and sizes, they may even be different types, but as long as we stick with God, our faith will grow and we will move forward for the glory of God! So let’s put on the full armor of God so that we are prepared for what today will have in store since our battle isn’t against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms! Let’s put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand!
14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
–from Ephesians 6
Psalm 7:10-17, Matthew 8:23-34, Matthew 9:1-13, Genesis 21, Genesis 22, Genesis 23
Today’s devotional from Bible In One Year 2017 (Day 10), provides 3 ways:
- Take up the shield of faith (Psalm 7:10-17)
- Trust in Jesus the Saviour (Matthew 8:23-9:13)
- Thank God for his provision (Genesis 21:1-23:20)
Our reading begins in Psalm 7 where we hear from David and are warned about nurturing temptations. We know from God’s Word that we reap what we sow and David tells us about nurturing temptation that just gets us into trouble and keeps us off guard with a feeling of disappointment resulting from the discovery that something is not as good as one believed it to be. Don’t get tripped up! Don’t allow yourself to be fooled causing yourself and other even more pain! So let’s pick up that shield of faith! Let’s allow God to be our shield! Let’s resist the devil and He will flee! And the shield of faith can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one!
Our reading continues into Matthew where we learn and hear to trust in Jesus! We know Jesus told us that in this world we will have troubles, that doesn’t mean we won’t be surprised though. We need to remember whether we see the storms of life coming or not that we can put our hope and trust in Jesus no matter what! When we turn to Him and ask Him for help in these times, because our trust in Him we tend to find we get one of the following results:
- Jesus calms the storm
- Jesus allows the storm to run its course, but calms our spirit so even though there is a storm taking place we can find peace beyond all circumstances because of our relationship and trust in Jesus!
When the storm comes our natural instinct is fear and if we don’t hear or see Jesus we may even think He has fallen asleep or doesn’t realize what we are going thru. Turn to Him, trust in Him, ask Him to calm the storm or calm the storm in you so that His peace that goes beyond all understanding can guard your heart!
Jesus Calms the Storm
23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
–from Matthew 8
So don’t be afraid, no matter how big the waves, how strong the wind, how loud the noise, put your hope and trust in Him! Ask Him to intervene so that you can walk in His peace whether He calms the storm or not! Jesus has power over all as we see in the Bible, and today’s reading reveals His power over nature in calming the storm, but also by touching people’s lives! He came to save the lost! He came to set the captives of sin free! He came to heal the sick! He came to provide a route to forgiveness and reconciliation to God! God’s after our hearts! It’s not about rituals or religion, it’s about mercy and grace!
Jesus Restores Two Demon-Possessed Men
28 When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. 29 “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”
30 Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. 31 The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”
32 He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. 33 Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men.34 Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.
Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralyzed Man
9 Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town.2 Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”
3 At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”
4 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 6 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” 7 Then the man got up and went home. 8 When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.
The Calling of Matthew
9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
–from Matthew 8:28-9:13
So let’s receive God’s forgiveness and mercy! Underserved … so we call it grace!
So as we walk thru the storms, let’s give God the praise, the honor, and the glory! Let’s thank Him for what He is doing in and thru the storm! Let’s allow it to bring Him praise, by trusting in Him! Let’s thank Him for providing throughout the journey!
Today’s story touches my heart every time I read it. Many years back when I only had 1 child I prayed to God asking if I would have a son or not. I had my first daughter and because of my sense of connection with Philip the evangelist who had 4 daughters who were prophetess, and with my first daughter showing signs of it, I wanted to know. I felt I would be ok either way and just asked God if I would have 4 daughters or if I might have a son. That morning I felt God give me a promise, just like God promised Abraham and Sarah of a son. When I heard that my heart was touched. When I heard that I told my wife about it and changed the name we had if we were to ever have a boy from Benjamin to Isaac. Today we have 3 incredible children – 2 girls and 1 boy – and the boy’s name is Isaac. God is good in the midst of the storms and God is faith and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. So don’t lose hope! Don’t lose faith! Trust in God! He is our ultimate provider!
We see that Abraham had to go thru storms. We see that he also was able to find peace in the midst of it all. God is good! When we are faced with troubles – call on God! We we are faced with trials – call on God! Trust in Him through it all! Know that He can make a way when there doesn’t seem to be a way … He is the ultimate provider! So let’s keep our faith in God strong! Let’s also keep our priorities straight and put God first!
I remember a time when life was going crazy. I learned in that time that I was saying my priorities were one way but then I wasn’t living in alignment to those priorities. It is important to have your priorities straight and to be living them out! In my case, I put God first (depending on if you want your numbers to start with 0 or 1, that means he would be 0 or 1), next I put my wife and marriage, next I put my family, and so on…
We see the biggest storm and challenge came during today’s reading and we see God show up and provide because of Abraham’s trust in God! It may not be easy, but will trust God at His Word? Will you trust that He will provide so that His promises will be fulfilled? Our task is to obey Him! Remember from our earlier readings how we are to seek Him and His ways first and that He would take care of the rest?
The Birth of Isaac
21 Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. 2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. 3 Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him.4 When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
6 Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” 7 And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”
Hagar and Ishmael Sent Away
8 The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. 9 But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”
11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son.12 But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. 13 I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”
14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.
15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob.
17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid;God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”
19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.
20 God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. 21 While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt.
The Treaty at Beersheba
22 At that time Abimelek and Phicol the commander of his forces said to Abraham, “God is with you in everything you do. 23 Now swear to me here before God that you will not deal falsely with me or my children or my descendants. Show to me and the country where you now reside as a foreigner the same kindness I have shown to you.”
24 Abraham said, “I swear it.”
25 Then Abraham complained to Abimelek about a well of water that Abimelek’s servants had seized. 26 But Abimelek said, “I don’t know who has done this. You did not tell me, and I heard about it only today.”
27 So Abraham brought sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelek, and the two men made a treaty. 28 Abraham set apart seven ewe lambs from the flock, 29 and Abimelek asked Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs you have set apart by themselves?”
30 He replied, “Accept these seven lambs from my hand as a witness that I dug this well.”
31 So that place was called Beersheba, because the two men swore an oath there.
32 After the treaty had been made at Beersheba, Abimelek and Phicol the commander of his forces returned to the land of the Philistines.33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the Lord, the Eternal God. 34 And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time.
22 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lordcalled out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
19 Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba.
20 Some time later Abraham was told, “Milkah is also a mother; she has borne sons to your brother Nahor: 21 Uz the firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel (the father of Aram), 22 Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph and Bethuel.” 23 Bethuel became the father of Rebekah. Milkah bore these eight sons to Abraham’s brother Nahor. 24 His concubine, whose name was Reumah, also had sons: Tebah, Gaham, Tahash and Maakah.
The Death of Sarah
23 Sarah lived to be a hundred and twenty-seven years old. 2 She died at Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep over her.
3 Then Abraham rose from beside his dead wife and spoke to the Hittites. He said, 4 “I am a foreigner and stranger among you. Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my dead.”
5 The Hittites replied to Abraham, 6 “Sir, listen to us. You are a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will refuse you his tomb for burying your dead.”
7 Then Abraham rose and bowed down before the people of the land, the Hittites. 8 He said to them, “If you are willing to let me bury my dead, then listen to me and intercede with Ephron son of Zohar on my behalf9 so he will sell me the cave of Machpelah, which belongs to him and is at the end of his field. Ask him to sell it to me for the full price as a burial site among you.”
10 Ephron the Hittite was sitting among his people and he replied to Abraham in the hearing of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of his city. 11 “No, my lord,” he said. “Listen to me; I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. I give it to you in the presence of my people. Bury your dead.”
12 Again Abraham bowed down before the people of the land 13 and he said to Ephron in their hearing, “Listen to me, if you will. I will pay the price of the field. Accept it from me so I can bury my dead there.”
14 Ephron answered Abraham, 15 “Listen to me, my lord; the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver, but what is that between you and me? Bury your dead.”
16 Abraham agreed to Ephron’s terms and weighed out for him the price he had named in the hearing of the Hittites: four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weight current among the merchants.
17 So Ephron’s field in Machpelah near Mamre—both the field and the cave in it, and all the trees within the borders of the field—was deeded 18 to Abraham as his property in the presence of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of the city. 19 Afterward Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah near Mamre (which is at Hebron) in the land of Canaan. 20 So the field and the cave in it were deeded to Abraham by the Hittites as a burial site.
–from Genesis 21-23
Notes from my reading from Day 10: Bible in One Year 2017