Today’s devotion comes from Genesis 17:9-14 and 23-27.  Here is a link to this Scripture in this chapter to the two paragraphs about circumcision which is separated by one paragraph about Sarah (verses 15-22) which we shall cover tomorrow, God willing –  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+17&version=NASB1995

I quote only the following verses.

“God said further to Abraham, “Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations.  This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you:  every male among you shall be circumcised.  And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.  …  But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people;  he has broken My covenant.”

“Then Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all the servants who were born in his house and all who were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s household, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the very same day, as God had said to him.  …”  Genesis 17:9-11 and 14 and 23.

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“Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.”  Deuteronomy 30:6.

“For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law;  but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.  So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?  And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law?  For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.  But he is a Jew who is one inwardly;  and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter;  and his praise is not from men, but from God.”  Romans 2:25-29.

“Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also?  For we say, “FAITH WAS CREDITED TO ABRAHAM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”  How then was it credited?  While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised?  Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised;  and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised.

For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith.  For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified;  for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.”  Romans 4:9-14.

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free;  therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.  And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law.  You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.  For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.”  Galatians 5:1-6.

“See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.  Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.  For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh.  But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.  For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.”  Galatians 6:11-15. 

“Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands—  remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.”  Ephesians 3:11-16. 

“Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision;  for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,”  Philippians 3:2-3.

“For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;  and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;  having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.  When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us;  and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.  When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.”  Colossians 2:9-15.

Today’s devotion comes from Genesis 17:1-8.

“Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him,

“I am God Almighty;
Walk before Me, and be blameless.
“I will establish My covenant between Me and you,
And I will multiply you exceedingly.”

Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying,

“As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you,
And you will be the father of a multitude of nations.
“No longer shall your name be called Abram,
But your name shall be Abraham;
For I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.

I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you.  I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.  I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession;  and I will be their God.”  Genesis 17:1-8.

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Most want to learn and talk about themselves.

But, in sharp contrast, the righteous want to learn and talk about God. 

Most proudly ask:  “… What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?”  John 6:28.

But, in sharp contrast, in deep humility, “Abraham fell on his face …”  Verse 3.  And, “… ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”  Romans 4:3.

Abraham “… believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.”  Romans 4:17.

In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “SO SHALL YOR DESCENDANTS BE.”  Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb;  yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.  Therefore IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”  Romans 4:18-22.

“So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.”  Galatians 3:9.

Today’s devotion comes from Genesis chapter 16.

“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar.  So Sarai said to Abram, “Now behold, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children.  Please go in to my maid;  perhaps I will obtain children through her.”  And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.  After Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram’s wife Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife.  He went in to Hagar, and she conceived;  and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her sight.  And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done me be upon you.  I gave my maid into your arms, but when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her sight.  May the LORD judge between you and me.”  But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your maid is in your power;  do to her what is good in your sight.”  So Sarai treated her harshly, and she fled from her presence.

Now the angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur.  He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from and where are you going?”  And she said, “I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.”  Then the angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority.”  Moreover, the angel of the LORD said to her, “I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count.”  The angel of the Lord said to her further,

“Behold, you are with child,
And you will bear a son;
And you shall call his name Ishmael,
Because the LORD has given heed to your affliction.
“He will be a wild donkey of a man,
His hand will be against everyone,
And everyone’s hand will be against him;
And he will live to the east of all his brothers.”

Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees”;  for she said, “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?”  Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi;  behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.

So Hagar bore Abram a son;  and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael.  Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to him.”  Genesis chapter 16.

——————–

“Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law?  For it is written that Abraham had two sons (Ishmael and Isaac), one by the bondwoman (Hagar) and one by the free woman (Sarai).  But the son (Ishmael) by the bondwoman (Hagar) was born according to the flesh, and the son (Isaac) by the free woman (Sarai) through the promise.”  Galatians 4:21-23.  (Parenthetical identifications added by Bill.)

“nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but:  “through Isaac your descendants will be named.”  That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.  For this is the word of promise:  “AT THIS TIME I WILL COME, AND SARAH SHALL HAVE A SON.”  Romans 9:7-9.

“But what does the Scripture say?

“CAST OUT THE BONDWOMAN AND HER SON,
FOR THE SON OF THE BONDWOMAN SHALL NOT BE AN HEIR WITH THE SON OF THE FREE WOMAN.”

“For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise;  but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.”  Galatians 3:18.

“For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith.  For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified;  for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.”  Romans 4:13-15.

Today’s devotion comes from Genesis 15:7-21.

“And He said to him (Abram), “I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it.”  He said, “O Lord God, how may I know that I will possess it?”  So He said to him, “Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”  Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds.  The birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.

Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram;  and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him.  God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years.  But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions.  As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace;  you will be buried at a good old age.  Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.”

It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces.  On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying,

“To your descendants I have given this land,
From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates:

the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the Jebusite.”  Genesis 15:7-21.

———————

“For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “I WILL SURELY BLESS YOU AND I WILL SURELY MULTIPLY YOU.”  And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise.  For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute.  In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.  This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”  Hebrews 6:13-20.

“Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.  Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.  The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.”  So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.”  Galatians 3:6-9.

“Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.  What I am saying is this:  the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise.  For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.”  Galatians 3:16-18. 

And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.”  Galatians 3:29. 

Today’s devotion comes from Genesis 15:1-6.

“After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying,

“Do not fear, Abram,
I am a shield to you;
Your reward shall be very great.”

Abram said, “O Lord God, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”  And Abram said, “Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.”  Then behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir;  but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.”  And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.”  And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”  Then he believed in the LORD;  and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.”   Genesis 15:1-6.  

———————

“For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, (as it is written, “A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.  In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE.”  Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb;  yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.  Therefore IT WAS ALSO CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.  Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.”  Romans 4:16-25.

Today’s devotion comes from Genesis 14:17-24.  Here is a link to this Scripture – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis%2014&version=NASB1995

I quote only the following verses.

“Then after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).  And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine;  now he was a priest of God Most High.  He blessed him and said,

“Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”

He gave him a tenth of all.” Genesis 14:17-20.

——————

Today’s Scripture leads us to meditate on how Christ is like Melchizedek.  All, or almost all, of Hebrews chapter 7 is devoted to that point.  

In a nutshell summary, like Melchizedek, Christ is a priest, but also like Melchizedek, Christ had special qualities superior to ordinary priests in the Levitical priesthood. 

“For it is attested of Him (Christ),

“YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER
ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK.” Hebrews 7:17.

So what were the special and superior qualities of Melchizedek that were like the special and superior qualities of Christ? 

The name of Melchizedek, King of Salem, is translated as “king of righteousness” and “king of peace”.  Hebrews 7:2.

Melchizedek appears out of nowhere in the Bible, so we may not understand the following of what was said of Melchizedek:  “Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.”  Hebrews 7:3. But, we can at least glean the conclusion that these special and superior qualities of Melchizedek were like the special and superior qualities of Christ.

Abraham was a great man, the patriarch, greatly blessed by the LORD.  But, notice the following comparisons between Abraham and Melchizedek. 

“Now observe how great this man (Melchizedek) was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth of the choicest spoils.  And those indeed of the sons of Levi who receive the priest’s office have commandment in the Law to collect a tenth from the people, that is, from their brethren, although these are descended from Abraham.  But the one (Melchizedek) whose genealogy is not traced from them collected a tenth from Abraham …”  Hebrews 7:4-6.

“… and (Melchizedek) blessed the one (Abraham) who had the promises.  But without any dispute the lesser (Abraham) is blessed by the greater (Melchizedek).”  Hebrews 7:6-7. 

Melchizedek, like Christ, did not arise through the Levitical priesthood.  Hebrews 7:11.  “For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests.  And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life.”  Hebrews 7:14-16.

What can these special and superior qualities of Christ do for us? 

“For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.  And inasmuch as it was not without an oath (for they indeed became priests without an oath, but He with an oath through the One who said to Him,

“THE LORD HAS SWORN
AND WILL NOT CHANGE HIS MIND,
‘YOUR ARE A PRIEST FOREVER’”);.

so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.” Hebrews 7:18-22.

As a quick side note, the source of the preceding quote comes from the following Psalm chapter 110 which teaches us more about Christ, especially His strong sovereign rule.

“The LORD says to my Lord:
“Sit at My right hand
Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”
2 The LORD will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying,
“Rule in the midst of Your enemies.”
3 Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power;
In holy array, from the womb of the dawn,
Your youth are to You as the dew.

4 The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind,
“You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek.”
5 The Lord is at Your right hand;
He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath.
6 He will judge among the nations,
He will fill them with corpses,
He will shatter the chief men over a broad country.
7 He will drink from the brook by the wayside;
Therefore He will lift up His head.” Psalm chapter 110.

Consider the following conclusion of Hebrews chapter 7.

“The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently.  Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens;  who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.  For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.”  Hebrews 7:23-28.

Today’s devotion comes from Genesis 14:1-16.  Here is a link to this Scripture – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+14&version=NASB1995

I quote only the following verses.

“And the king of Sodom and the king of Gomorrah and the king of Admah and the king of Zeboiim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) came out;  and they arrayed for battle against them in the valley of Siddim, against Chedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goiim and Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five.  Now the valley of Siddim was full of tar pits;  and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and they fell into them.  But those who survived fled to the hill country.  Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food supply, and departed.  They also took Lot, Abram’s nephew, and his possessions and departed, for he was living in Sodom.

Then a fugitive came and told Abram the Hebrew.  Now he was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner, and these were allies with Abram.  When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.  He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus.  He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people.”  Genesis 14:8-16.   

—————–

We remember the blessing that God previously gave Abram, likely giving Abram the courage to attack his enemies to rescue his nephew Lot.

“Now the LORD said to Abram,

“Go forth from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father’s house,
To the land which I will show you;
2 And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing;
3 And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-3.

“yet, with respect to the promise of God, he (Abraham) did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. Therefore IT WAS ALSO CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.” Romans 4:20-25.

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6.

“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. He blessed him (Abram) and said,

“Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand
.”

He gave him a tenth of all.” Genesis 14:18-20.

Today’s devotion comes from Genesis 14-18.

“The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward;  for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever.  I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered.  Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth;  for I will give it to you.”  Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD.”  Genesis 14-18.

—————–

As great as the earthly Promised Land, Canaan, was for Abram and his descendants, there was a greater Promised Land, Heaven, that was for Abram and his descendants.

Therefore, if Abram had the motivation to check out the earthly Promised Land, Canaan, and obey God’s command, “Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth;  for I will give it to you.”, then how much more motivation does Abram and his descendants have to check out the greater Promised Land, Heaven!

“Walk about Zion and go around her;
Count her towers;
Consider her ramparts;
Go through her palaces,
That you may tell it to the next generation.” Psalm 48:12-13.

Are we content to stay put and accept the world’s image of heaven (such as descriptions of vague, weak, fleeting, and worthless clouds), or, so to speak, do we eagerly walk through Scriptures and go around Scriptures, relying on Scriptures to form our understanding of Heaven (such as this description of strong and permanent “towers”, “ramparts” and “palaces”)? 

Let us follow the example of Abraham “for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”  Hebrews 11:10.

Heaven is the home of God and His people.  “And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,”  Revelation 21:3.  “they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.  And there will no longer be any night;  and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them;  and they will reign forever and ever.”  Revelation 22:4-5.

“And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God.  Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper.  It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, …  And the twelve gates were twelve pearls;  each one of the gates was a single pearl.  And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.”  Revelation 21:10-12 and 21.

We may imagine slender older people slowly walking around in Heaven in robes (in length from neck to ankle to hide their bodies).  But, a truer image would be of vibrant young, beautiful athletic bodies with great strength, health, and vitality.  They are not ashamed nor shy of their bodies.  “There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another.  …  this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality …”  1 Corinthians 15:40 and 54.

Heaven is a place of righteousness, peace, and joy.  “… the kingdom of God is … righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 14:17.  “and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes;  and there will no longer be any death;  there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain;  the first things have passed away.”  Revelation 21:4.

We may have an image of Heaven only containing colors of white and gold.  But, Heaven contains a spectrum of vivid colors, and all from precious jewels!  “The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone.  The first foundation stone was jasper;  the second, sapphire;  the third, chalcedony;  the fourth, emerald;  the fifth, sardonyx;  the sixth, sardius;  the seventh, chrysolite;  the eighth, beryl;  the ninth, topaz;  the tenth, chrysoprase;  the eleventh, jacinth;  the twelfth, amethyst.”  Revelation 21:19.

Heaven has a river.  “Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb,”  Revelations 22:1.  Many people like Cozumel, Mexico because of the clarity and beauty of the water.  How much more beautiful and wonderful is the river of flowing water in Heaven, “clear as crystal”, which water is “life” itself!

Do we think of the citizens of Heaven almost as zombies:  slow, emotionless,  and quiet?  A cheering football stadium crowd may be more like the citizens of Heaven!  “… we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us …”  Hebrews 12:1.  As we on earth are eager in anticipation:  “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;  who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”  Philippians 3:20-21.  So, they are eager in heaven:  “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.”  Romans 8:19.

Do we just play a harp all the time in Heaven?  No!  Heaven is not boring;  rather, it is a joyful place. “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.” Matthew 22:2.  “The LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain;  A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, And refined, aged wine.”  Isaiah 25:6.

We may think that Heaven is open for everyone.  But, “… do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived;  neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.  Such were some of you;  but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”  1 Corinthians 6:9-11. “But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” 2 Peter 3:13.

We tend to not think of trees in Heaven, but there are trees in Heaven and they bear “… twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month;  and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”  Revelations 22:2.

Is God in Heaven like an impotent man just watching and waiting and wringing his hands and worrying as to who will use their alleged free-will to accept Jesus and get into heaven or who may use their alleged free-will and reject Jesus and go to hell?  No!  God is a victorious warrior!  “The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior.  He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”  Zephaniah 3:17.

Only God can save, and God saves every one of His elect.  Not one of His elect is lost.  “And He saw that there was no man, And was astonished that there was no one to intercede;  Then His own arm brought salvation to Him, And His righteousness upheld Him.”  Isaiah 59:16.  “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;  and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish;  and no one will snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all;  and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”  John 10:27-29.

“The LORD has established His throne in the heavens,
And His sovereignty rules over all.” Psalm 103:19.

“9 “Remember the former things long past,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;” Isaiah 46:9-10.

Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | January 17, 2022

“Please let there be no strife between you and me”

Today’s devotion comes from Genesis 13:1-13.

“So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, he and his wife and all that belonged to him, and Lot with him.

Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver and in gold.  He went on his journeys from the Negev as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place of the altar which he had made there formerly;  and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.  Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents.  And the land could not sustain them while dwelling together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to remain together.  And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock.  Now the Canaanite and the Perizzite were dwelling then in the land.

So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers.  Is not the whole land before you?  Please separate from me;  if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left.”  Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere—this was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah—like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar.  So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward.  Thus they separated from each other.  Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom.  Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the LORD.”  Genesis 13:1-13.

——————

Consider the following verses regarding the wisdom of avoiding strife.

“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
But the slow to anger calms a dispute.” Proverbs 15:18.

“29 He who is slow to anger has great understanding,
But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.
30 A tranquil heart is life to the body,
But passion is rottenness to the bones.” Proverbs 14:29-30.

“16 Better is a little with the fear of the LORD
Than great treasure and turmoil with it.
17 Better is a dish of vegetables where love is
Than a fattened ox served with hatred.” Proverbs 15:16-17.

“Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it
Than a house full of feasting with strife.” Proverbs 17:1.

And, if you can take the next step from “only” avoiding strife and separating, to go to love and unity through God’s grace, then you got something precious and eternal.

“Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Colossians 3:14-15.

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brothers to dwell together in unity!
2 It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Coming down upon the beard,
Even Aaron’s beard,
Coming down upon the edge of his robes.
3 It is like the dew of Hermon
Coming down upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the LORD commanded the blessing—life forever.” Psalm chapter 133.

Today’s devotion comes from Genesis 12:10-20.

“Now there was a famine in the land;  so Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land.  It came about when he came near to Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, “See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman;  and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife’;  and they will kill me, but they will let you live.  Please say that you are my sister so that it may go well with me because of you, and that I may live on account of you.”  It came about when Abram came into Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful.  Pharaoh’s officials saw her and praised her to Pharaoh;  and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house.  Therefore he treated Abram well for her sake;  and gave him sheep and oxen and donkeys and male and female servants and female donkeys and camels.

But the LORD struck Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife.  Then Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me?  Why did you not tell me that she was your wife?  Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife?  Now then, here is your wife, take her and go.”  Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him;  and they escorted him away, with his wife and all that belonged to him.”  Genesis 12:10-20.

—————–

The LORD guides us, protects us, and also otherwise blesses us.  

We can infer God’s guidance and protection by the fact that Abram and Sarai were successfully able to avoid the severe famine by going to Egypt.  Verse 10.  We can infer God’s blessing by the fact that Pharaoh “… treated Abram well for her sake;  and gave him sheep and oxen and donkeys and male and female servants and female donkeys and camels.”  Verse 16.  

But, God’s protection is expressly stated in verse 17.  “But the LORD struck Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife.”  As a result, Pharaoh’s officials “… escorted him away, with his wife and all that belonged to him.” Verse 20.  

Today’s Scripture reminds us of the Exodus when God struck Pharaoh and the Egyptians with the ten plagues and caused the Egyptians to give gifts to Israel before they finally allowed Israel to leave Egypt.

Let us meditate on God’s guidance, protection, and other blessings upon His people a/k/a chosen ones a/k/a His elect.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go;
I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” Psalm 32:8.

“8 Keep me as the apple of the eye;
Hide me in the shadow of Your wings
9 From the wicked who despoil me,
My deadly enemies who surround me.” Psalm 17:8-9.

“17 He delivered me from my strong enemy,
And from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
But the LORD was my stay.
19 He brought me forth also into a broad place;
He rescued me, because He delighted in me.” Psalm 18:17-19.

“16 But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength;
Yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your lovingkindness in the morning,
For You have been my stronghold
And a refuge in the day of my distress.
17 O my strength, I will sing praises to You;
For God is my stronghold, the God who shows me lovingkindness.” Psalm 59:16-17.

“9 “For the LORD’s portion is His people;
Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance.
10 “He found him in a desert land,
And in the howling waste of a wilderness;
He encircled him, He cared for him,
He guarded him as the pupil of His eye.

11 “Like an eagle that stirs up its nest,
That hovers over its young,
He spread His wings and caught them,
He carried them on His pinions.
12 “The LORD alone guided him,
And there was no foreign god with him.
13 “He made him ride on the high places of the earth,
And he ate the produce of the field;
And He made him suck honey from the rock,
And oil from the flinty rock,
14 Curds of cows, and milk of the flock,
With fat of lambs,
And rams, the breed of Bashan, and goats,
With the finest of the wheat—
And of the blood of grapes you drank wine.”

“The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalm chapter 23.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.  …”  Ephesians 1:3-8.

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