Knowing God Through His Word

And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.  And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the Lord. And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord. – 1 Samuel 3:19-21 (ESV)

Notice how the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel.  It was by the Word of the Lord that Samuel knew the Lord.  Samuel knew the Lord through the prophetic dreams and visions he received.  He also knew Him through studying the Law.  God reveals Himself to us in the same way today.

Certainly we can still experience dreams and visions, but primarily, God reveals Himself to us through the 66 Divinely inspired books of the Bible.  Years ago the discipleship ministry known as The Navigators developed an illustration to help us see the ways in which we can interact with the Word of God.  It was called the hand illustration.

hand illustration

We hear, read, study, memorize, and meditate upon the Bible, and through this, we get the blessing of knowing its author so we can in turn make its author known.

Today’s Challenge: Take some time to thank God for His word.  Sunday is great opportunity to participate in each of these five practices.  As you prepare to gather with your local church family, pay close attention to how you interact with God’s Word today.  Can you practice all five of these disciplines?  I assure you, if you do, like Samuel, you’ll be closer to your Heavenly Father!

Rest in Jesus,

Andy

Chronological Bible Reading – February 20 – Jesus touched the “unclean”

Today’s Reading: Leviticus 13-15

How does reading Leviticus heighten our appreciation for Jesus and His calling on our lives to reach the outcast?  Today’s entry should help answer this question.

This is the time of year during the Chronological Bible Reading Plan that can be a real struggle.  We’re right smack in the middle of the some of the most exciting passages in scripture…Levitical Law.  Instructions about washing and blood and oil and sacrifice don’t often provide much when it comes to devotional reading.  However, in the middle of today’s reading comes the instructions for the cleansing of women who have a discharge of blood.  This section outlines the pattern a woman would observe each month following her menstrual cycle.  She would be considered unclean for seven days following the end of her discharge of blood and then on the eighth day she would present an offering to the priests who would offer it on her behalf in order to complete her cleansing. Continue reading

Chronological Bible Reading – February 14 – Our Tent of Meeting

Today’s Reading: Exodus 30-38

The Tent of Meeting

I am almost certain that I write about this passage every year as I come to it.  It is so rich with truth for us that we must be reminded regularly of the lessons learned from Moses’ Tent of Meeting.

Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, a good distance from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting… – Exodus 33:7a (NASB)

Thus the Lord used to speak with Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend.  When Moses returned to the camp, his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent. – Exodus 33:11 (NASB)

What an incredible reality that the God of all Creation can and will speak to us and we can meet with Him and speak to Him as a man speaks with his friend.  This meeting was very limited in the Old Testament.  However, through Jesus Christ, all have access to God through faith.

How often we neglect so great a privilege.  In light of this reality, when we stop and consider the things we allow to keep us from meeting with God on a regular basis, we should be ashamed.  However, when we come to our senses and return to meet with Him, His grace means we will not face condemnation from Him.  His love for us never fails. He is always waiting for us to come to our senses and answer His call to us to meet with Him.  May we never get over the reality that we can meet and fellowship intimately with the Sovereign God of the Universe.

Ponder this truth and examine where you are in your commitment to Him.  Where you see deficiency, repent and find the grace given through Jesus Christ that strengthens you to return to a place of close fellowship with your Heavenly Father.

Moses’ Pattern for Prayer

Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight… – Exodus 33:13 (NASB)

The (Moses) said to (God), “If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. – Exodus 33:15 (NASB)

What a model for prayer we see with Moses as he meets with God.  The cry of his prayer is two-fold:

  1. Let me know You.
  2. Lead me by Your presence.

This should be a pattern and part of our prayer life on a daily basis.  To know God is our heart’s cry.  To be led by Him results in a life well lived for His Kingdom purposes.  It is in knowing Him that we find the strength to walk the path He sets before us.  The beauty is that the Christian life is not powered only by a distant encounter with God from our past, but by the moment-by-moment reality of His presence and power at work in and through us by His Spirit.  This reality exists because of the Gospel.  It is because of what Jesus has done and the grace that is given through faith in Him that we know our great God and walk with Him.

May this truth fill our hearts, and stir us to enjoy the intimate fellowship with Him that Jesus came to provide.

Rest in Jesus,

Andy

Chronological Bible Reading – February 3 – The Reminder We All Need

Today’s Reading: Exodus 4:18-7:13, 1 Chronicles 6:1-4

I am the LORD!

Here in the beginning of Moses’ tenure as leader of the Israelites, we continually see the phrase, “I am the LORD!” Moses is still very reluctant to answer the call that God has issued. He will lead this people out of slavery, but in this early stage, Moses cannot see how it is possible.  He is viewing this monumental task through the lens of his own abilities.  According to his strength, Moses is correct in his assessment.  He will NEVER lead this people out on his own.

So, over and over again, God reminds Moses who will do this work.  “I am the LORD” is the tag given to every action and the answer to all his doubts.  Moses doesn’t get it just yet, but very soon he will understand and walk in faith with this truth.

It is the same for us.  As we see the commands of God set before us, and the life He has called us to live, it is clear we cannot do it alone.  Just as the impossibility of delivering the Israelites from Egypt causes Moses to rely fully on God, so the high calling of a life lived for Christ causes us to rely on God’s power working through us.

Don’t cower in the face of the impossible.  See it as an opportunity to see the LORD work in and through your life.   This is the joy and adventure found in pursuing Christ, and it begins with the constant reminder…I am the LORD!

Rest in Jesus,

Andy

Chronological Bible Reading – February 2 – The End of Ourselves

Today’s Reading: Exodus 1:1-4:17

The circumstances by which God would first deliver Moses and then prepare him for the call on his life are beautiful examples of God’s sovereignty, power, and plan.  Exodus begins with Joseph dead and the Israelites have multiplied greatly.  There is a new Pharaoh who doesn’t know the history of Joseph and is fearful of the vast number of these foreign Israelite people.  He forces them into slavery and hard labor.  He puts statutes in place to reduce the number of Israelites.  Namely, he commands the killing of all male Israelite children when they are born.

God has a plan to deliver His people and to display His majesty to the Egyptian people. It begins with a baby boy being born.  Moses is born, hidden by his mother, discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter and raised as a prince in Egypt.  When he is grown he sees himself as a potential deliverer for his people. He kills an Egyptian, the first sign of his self-sufficiency.

God knows in order to use Moses for the task of delivering His people, he will have to be humbled.  In Exodus 3:1, we see a prime example of this humbling process at its best.  By this point, Moses has gone from a prince in Egypt to a shepherd of a flock he doesn’t even own.  He is being broken of all self-sufficiency and pride.  However, in the midst of this time, God appears to Moses and gives him the call of delivering the people from slavery.  His response, “Who am I?” is exactly what God is looking for in him.  Moses knows he cannot do such a great task.

God has a broken vessel that He can use in Moses.  It is through broken and humble men and women that God can accomplish the most for His glory!  Don’t miss this.  We all want God to use us for great things.  The key to this is to come to the end of ourselves.  When we are empty of all self-sufficiency and pride, we are positioned to be used of God for purposes beyond our abilities.  Our lives will be predictable and mediocre when lived according to our strength and abilities.  But when we yield ourselves to be used by the God of all creation, our lives will be marked by things that can only be explained in terms of God’s power at work in us, and that is a life well lived.

Rest in Jesus,

Andy

Chronological Bible Reading – January 30 – “Risk is Right”

Today’s Reading: Genesis 45-46:12

The secret is out.  Joseph has revealed his true identity to his brothers as well as his desire to provide for them and their father.  he sends his brothers back to his father with the good news that the son he believed to be dead was, in fact, alive.  Joseph’s instructions are to bring everyone to Egypt where they can be cared for.  They pack up everything and begin their journey to Egypt.  However, when they make it to Beersheba, a town along the way to Egypt, they stop.  In a moment of what must have been apprehension, God appears to Jacob in a dream and says,

I am God, the God of your father.  Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes. – Genesis 46:3-4 (ESV)

This promise relieves all fear and Jacob moves to Egypt.  The rest of the story will play out in the coming chapters, however the point to capture today is the source of Jacob’s comfort and confidence.  God promised to go with him.

I am reminded this morning of the reality of God’s presence in my own life.  As a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ, I have the promise of God’s Word that helps me see that God is always with me.  When I walk in His ways, I know there is nothing to fear.  His plans are better than anything I can create for myself.  Wherever I go, whatever I face, I can know without doubt or wavering that the God of all creation is with me and loves me.  May this create a confidence and trust in me that leads to God’s greater work in and through me, my family, and my ministry.

I remember hearing the phrase, “risk is right” used in connection to a philosophy for life.  The point is to drive you to live a life of risk understanding that great risk can possibly equal great reward.  In relationship, in business, and life in general, many adopt this philosophy.  However, based upon the overarching promise of God’s presence and sovereign work in the life of a person who trusts in Him, it appears that risk no longer exists.  There is no risk in following the directives given by our sovereign and loving God, for He is with us. So, in the eyes of the world, following God is a huge risk, but in light of truth, indeed, “risk is right.”

Rest in Jesus

Andy

Chronological Bible Reading – January 28 – God’s Timing is Greater

Today’s Reading: Genesis 40-41

We see throughout Joseph’s life a common thread of faithfulness, but we also see over and over the phrase, “the Lord was with him.”  As we discussed yesterday, it would not appear to be the case based on the circumstances we see in his life.  But today we’ll see God’s plan play out according to God’s timing. Continue reading

Chronological Bible Reading – January 27 – A Pattern of Faithfulness

Today’s Reading: Genesis 37-39

As we read about the life of Joseph, we are going to see the common pattern of faithfulness in his life.  Through all the injustice and betrayal, Joseph remains true.  He approaches justice/faithfulness differently than most.  For many people, faithfulness is connected to life, job, and other circumstances.  For some, as long as life is “good” their faithfulness is strong.  For others, it is only when life is tough that they acknowledge God.  In Joseph’s life, we see faithfulness regardless of life circumstances. Continue reading

Chronological Bible Reading – January 25 – A Total Transformation

Today’s Reading: Genesis 31-32

Throughout Jacob’s life he has sought to manipulate and deceive his way into getting what he wants.  From the birthright to his father’s blessing, to the acquiring of large flocks, to the stealing away in the middle of the night with his entire family and possessions, Jacob has had his hands in every situation. But in Genesis 32:24-32 Jacob meets God and is transformed in more ways than name. Continue reading

Chronological Bible Reading – January 24 – What Determines Your Present?

Today’s Reading: Genesis 25-30, 36 and 1 Chronicles 1:32-54

In Genesis 25 we see two nations born of the same womb.  Esau, the first-born twin, would be the beginning of the Edomites.  Jacob, born second, would be the one through whom Israel comes.  Knowing what God has declared about these brothers makes the story of their lives read like a daytime soap opera.  It is full of deceit, lies, and betrayal.  But through it all, God’s purposes are fulfilled.

There is a great teaching point found in Genesis 25:29-34.  Esau sells his birthright to his younger brother, Jacob, for a bowl of stew.  Though this seems like the stupidest exchange ever, we can learn something from this account.  Esau gives up his entire future to feed the present desires of his flesh.

Esau has a dismissive attitude toward his birthright.  So dismissive that he sells it for soup.  He does not grasp the significance of the future promise that has been made by God through the line of his grandfather Abraham.  Esau was the natural heir through which this promise would come, but it was not God’s plan. Esau’s present circumstance of hunger caused him to forsake his future as heir of promise.  This brings us to the reality that there are three ways we can approach our present circumstances.

Your Past Determines Your Present

For many, their past determines their present.  People find themselves bound by past mistakes, failures, or pains.  They cannot embrace the forgiveness, grace, and healing that God offers through Jesus Christ.

Your Present Determines Your Present

For others, their present determines their present.  They live for the moment alone.  They are consumed with pride, lust, and selfish gain.  their mindset is “feed me!” There is no consideration for how present decisions may affect the future.  Esau is a prime example of this mindset.

Your Future Determines Your Present

Instead of these first two approaches to our present circumstances, we should allow our future to determine our present.  this is the mindset of the Christ follower.  Our future holds an inheritance of being a joint heir with Jesus where we will receive heaven and the presence of our King.  Paul understood this reality in the face of a very difficult present when he declared,

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, – 2 Corinthians 4:17 (ESV)

When people look at your life, what do they see determining your present?  Do they look at you and say, “all they’re living for is this earth” or do your priorities, and the way you live your life, lead them to say, “that person is living for heaven?”

Rest in Jesus,

Andy