Day 8: The God of Abraham Praise

Read Genesis 15:1-6 and Hebrews 11:8-12

Does anyone else find it remarkable that all Abraham does is believe and the Lord declares him righteous? God appears to this virtual pagan and basically says 3 things: “Fear not,” “I am your shield,” and “Your reward shall be great.” Abraham then responds like this: “Keep your reward,” “I have no kids,” “My heir is a servant,” and “It’s your fault.” But God gives him this amazing promise anyway, that his offspring would be numbered like the stars in the heavens. Abraham actually believes him and BOOM! Just like that he’s counted as righteous. God then seals His promise with a covenantal ceremony, which Abraham sleeps through.

The point I’m trying to make, and which Abraham continually proves through a series of moral foibles, is that Abraham’s righteousness, depends 100% on God’s declaring him such. God didn’t have to provide a way of redemption for Abraham or for us. When certain angels rebelled, He didn’t work up a plan of salvation for them. And according to James 2:19, even the demons believe that God is one! But James continues that Abraham believed God and it was credited it to him as righteousness, and not only that, he was called God’s friend!

Obviously, there are 2 kinds of belief here. There’s a knowledge of God that according to Romans 1:19-21, everyone on earth possesses, and there is a saving faith that James makes clear is evidenced by the fruit it bears in the life of the believer. How does one kind of belief produce the fruit of good works and one kind only lead to the shuddering of the demons? Is it not because of the declaration of righteousness by God?

I don’t know about you, but I just don’t feel all that comfortable resting on my own belief in God as the means to my salvation. God has to declare me righteous and the way He does that is through the perfect sacrifice of His own Son, the very Son that would be born through Abrahams family line. It’s through the righteousness of Jesus Christ that I can say with Abraham and the writer of today’s hymn, “He by Himself hath sworn, I on His oath depend.”

“The God of Abraham praise, who reigns enthroned above;
Ancient of everlasting days, and God of love.
Jehovah, Great I Am, By earth and heaven confessed;
I bow and bless the sacred name, Forever blest.”

(After singing The God of Abraham Praise, listen to Handel’s Messiah selection “For unto us a child is born…”)


Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.

Day 7: Shem Finds God Faithful

Read Genesis 9:1-19 and Isaiah 54:9,10

“Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.”

After getting caught  in a lightening storm while backpacking in the High Sierra, my brother started taking clouds very seriously. One glimpse of a distant puffy white apparition, and inevitably he would be packing up and heading down the mountain. His caution was certainly warranted and reminds me very much of how Noah’s family must have felt the first time they saw clouds gathering again after stepping forth onto a deluge devastated earth.

Prior to the flood, Earth’s water canopy had maintained a rather greenhouse-like atmosphere, likely void of stormy weather. Imagine the trauma when the floodgates opened and all that water came crashing down. Not to mention the visual manifestation of God’s wrath when those 8 survivors saw the world as they had known it, utterly changed by the seismic activity of the fountains of the deep bursting forth. It must have been with fear and trembling that they first stepped forth on that ruined, yet remade earth.

But God in His mercy, with great compassion, placed a bow in those ominous clouds; a bow not pointed at the earth in perpetual wrath, but hung up as it were, in a posture of peace. This was their reminder that when the fearful clouds came and the rain started falling again, that it would not be for the destruction of but for the nourishment of the earth. What a comfort the sight of that rainbow must have been for Noah’s family ever after!

Perhaps stormy weather has you, like the weeping prophet of Lamentations 3:12, feeling that God had “bent His bow and set me as a target for His arrows.” But the rainbow helps us all call to mind  verses 21-23, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

And dear friend, the rainbow only tells half the story. Did you know that from a heavenly perspective a rainbow is actually a complete circle? Because of the angle of the light shining through the water droplets combined with the slope of the earth we only see half the circle, or a bow. But since the advent of flight people have been able to capture images like the one linked here, which has been God’s perspective all along! We see the promise. He sees the fulfillment of it in Christ. “For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him. That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for His glory” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

“As I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth,
so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, and will not rebuke you.
For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,’
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” —Isaiah 54:9,10

(After singing Great Is Thy Faithfulness, listen to Handel’s Messiah selections “There sound is gone out…”)

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Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.

 

 

Day 6: Noah Found Favor In The Eyes Of The Lord

Read Genesis 6:5-7:24 and Hebrews 11:7

“Noah’s Ark, Noah’s Flood, Lot’s of Water, Lot’s of Mud.” So reads the rather simplistic title of one of our favorite children’s books by John Morris of Institute for Creation Research. But the flood was so much more than that, wasn’t it? The flood wasn’t just a means of God’s judgement for the total depravity of mankind on earth, it was an instrument of His mercy. God used the flood not just to destroy the earth but to recreate it anew. And He promises to do the same again. When Christ returns, He will once more make all things new. Our hymn for today is taken from the following poem by Horatius Bonar and looks forward to that time.

“Come, Lord, and tarry not,
Bring the long-looked-for day;
Oh, why these years of waiting here,
These ages of delay?

Come, for Thy saints still wait;
Daily ascends their cry:
‘The Spirit and the Bride say, Come’;
Dost Thou not hear their cry?

Come, for creation groans,
Impatient of Thy stay;
Worn out with these long years of ill,
These ages of delay.

Come, for Thy foes are strong;
With taunting lips they say,
‘Where is the promised advent now,
And where the dreaded day?’

Come, in Thy glorious might;
Come, with Thine iron rod;
Disperse Thy foes before Thy face,
Most mighty Son of God.

Come, and make all things new,
Build up this ruined earth;
Restore our faded paradise,
Creation’s second birth.

Come, and begin Thy reign
Of everlasting peace;
Come, take the kingdom to Thyself,
Great King of Righteousness.”

(After singing All Things New, Listen to Handel’s Messiah by clicking on the following selections “All they that see him…” “He trusted God…”)


Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.

Day 5: After Methuselah, Judgement

Read Genesis 5:25-27 and 1 Peter 3:18-23

Methuselah has the impressive distinction of being the oldest man on earth. He lived more days than any other person and in so doing proved the kindness and patience of our Lord.
Methuselah’s name means “after me comes judgement.” Methuselah’s grandson was Noah. 1 Peter 3:20 says that “God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared.” Indeed His patience waited 969 years before He judged the world with water during which time He worked a plan of salvation for mankind through the safe passage of 8 people on a boat.

1 Peter 3:18 speaks of God’s broader plan of salvation for mankind. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.” Each day of our life is a testament to God’s kindness and patience. Each passing day can be THE day of salvation for those who trust in Him to provide safe passage from death unto life.

“Day by day and with each passing moment,
strength I find to meet my trials here;
trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
gives unto each day what He deems best—
lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
mingling toil with peace and rest.”

(After singing Day by Day click tolisten to Handel’s Messiah on the following selections “Then shall be brought to pass…” “O death…” “But thanks be to God…”)

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Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.

 

Day 4: Enoch Walked With God

Read Genesis 5:12-24 and Hebrews 11:5,6

In the second to the last book of the Bible, we read this obscure quote by the ancient prophet, Enoch, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgement on all and to convince all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 14-16).

Just seven generations from the creation of man, Enoch is already warning the ungodly of the coming of the Lord. These people are ungodly, their deeds are ungodly, their speech is ungodly and in sharp contrast to them we have Enoch, who simply “walked with God and was not found, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24). So how was it that Enoch came to walk with God and so escape the judgement of all the ungodly sinners around him? Hebrews 11:5,6 explains it this way, “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for who ever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.”

In other words, unless we have been granted the faith to believe that God really is who He says He is, nothing good we do will ever please Him. We’re in the same boat as all those ungodly sinners. And in that case the second Advent of Christ is NOT good news. But if we confess that we really are who He says we are, ungodly sinners, and trust Him to save us from His judgement, we can walk in fellowship with Him as Enoch did and also not see death. God has granted eternal life to ALL who believe and that eternal life starts now!

“When we walk with the Lord,
in the light of His Word,
what a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will
He abides with us still,
and with all who will trust and obey.”

Jude ends with this beautiful benediction, “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

(After singing Trust and Obey click below to listen to Handel’s Messiah selections “Behold I tell you a mystery…” “The trumpet shall sound…”)

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Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.

 

 

Day 3: The Calling Out of Seth’s Time

Read Genesis 4:25-5:11 and Romans 10

By the time Adam and Eve’s son, Seth, had his own son, people were quite aware of their perilous condition and thus began to call on the name of the Lord. All hail the power of that name! Romans 10:13 promises that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Verse 9 further instructs us that “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” This is good news indeed! Verse 15 quotes Isaiah 52, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’” Back then it might have been feet that carried good news like that from one person to another, but today we have so many other means. We can pick up the phone and call someone on the other side of the planet. We can open up our laptops and publish a blog post and within seconds a hundred friends can read the good news: “Jesus is Lord!” “Our God reigns!” “You CAN be saved!”

“Ye chosen seed of Israel’s race,
Ye ransomed of the fall;
Hail Him who saves you by His grace,
And crown Him Lord of all.”

(After singing All Hail the Power of Jesus Name, click to listen to Handel’s Messiah selection “How beautiful are the feet of them…”)

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Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people we will be reading about during the Advent season.

 

Day 2: In Adam’s Fall, We Sinned All

Read Genesis 3 and Romans 5:12-21

So here’s the bad news. The creatures God made in His own image committed cosmic treason against their Creator and the whole world was thrown into a state of ruin and death. Now every person who would ever be born would be born with a sinful, rebellious nature and after death face eternal punishment at the hands of a just and holy God.

But “Joy to the World!” There’s Romans 5:18!

“Just as the trespass of one led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.”

Jesus came for that one act of righteousness. His purpose from manger to grave was to pay the penalty for the rebellion brought into the world by that one man, Adam. Just think of the gift offered to us in the words of Romans 5:17!

“For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”

Joy to the world indeed!

“No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found.”

(After singing Joy to the World,” click to listen to Handel’s Messiah selection “Since by man came death…”)

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Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.

 

Day 1: Of the Father’s Love Begotten

Read Genesis 1 and Hebrews 1:1-12

Followers of my past blogs would know that I always start the school year with Genesis chapter 1. Whatever it is we’re studying— science, history, math, language— it all has it’s beginning right there in those first few words of scripture, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

In Hebrews 1:2,3 we read that everything that was created was created through Jesus Christ and that it is He who upholds the entire universe by the word of His power. Put that thought side by side with the baby in the manger!

The writer of today’s hymn captured it well with the following words:

“Of the Father’s love begotten,
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see,
Ever more and ever more!

O that birth forever blessed,
When the virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving,
Bare the Savior of our race;
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face,
Ever more and ever more!”

Our reading in Hebrews 1 ends with this quote from Psalm 102,

“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
and the heavens are the work of your hands;
they will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment,
like a robe you will roll them up,
like a garment they will be changed.
But you are the same,
and your years will have no end.”

The same Lord, through whom the universe was created, who holds it all together by the word of His power, is the same Lord who became a helpless babe, lived a perfect life, offered Himself up through death on a cross as a sacrifice on our behalf, rose powerfully from the grave and ascended to His rightful throne in Heaven. This same Lord is coming again to judge the living and the dead. There will be a second advent just as surely as there was a first. Do you rejoice in His coming? Then, let us live each day the proclamation, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”

(After singing Of the Father’s Love Begotten, click to listen to Handel’s Messiah selections “Unto which of the angels…” and “Let all the angels…” Note: some versions of the Messiah, namely those produced/performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir do not contain these selections)

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Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.