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Tag Archives: Devotionals

When God Is Silent

“And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him…” (Genesis 13:14)

It is an age-old question: Why does God seem to speak to some people, but not to others? Why is it that there are times when we can clearly hear the voice of the Lord speaking to us, and at other times it seems that He remains silent for long periods of time? There are many answers to these questions, more than a few of them are entirely beyond what the Lord has chosen to reveal to us. But as we examine the lives of some of the people we meet in the Bible, we can begin to understand at least one reason why this happens.

In Genesis 13:14, the Lord speaks again to Abraham. This is the first instance that we read of God speaking to Abraham since before his journey into Egypt and back, when he first came to Shechem (Genesis 12:6). We have no record of God appearing to or speaking to Abraham from the time that he first entered into Canaan until now. Why was God silent to him during this time?

First of all, as we saw before, Abraham was out of the will of God during his sojourn in Egypt. We simply cannot have fellowship with the Lord when we are out of His will. We still belong to God, but we cannot enjoy fellowship with Him when we are living outside of His will. Second, the phrase, “After that Lot was separated from him” is very significant. God never instructed Abraham to bring Lot along with him in the first place, but told him to get away from his kindred (Genesis 12:1). It is true that the last time God spoke to him at Shechem, Lot was with him; but now the Lord waits until Abraham fulfills every aspect of His commands before He appears to him again. The first time God told him what He intended to do for Abraham, now He is ready to bring it to pass. Before that could happen, Abraham had to respond to what God had instructed him earlier.

Until we obey what God has already told us to do, we will not likely hear anything else from Him. Until we respond to the last thing that He has said to us, we will not likely hear Him speak to us again. If you have failed to hear the voice of God for a long period of time, ask yourself: did you listen to what He said to you last time He spoke? If not, then He might be waiting for you to respond to that before He tells you anything else. Just as God waited for Abraham to separate himself from Lot before He revealed anything else about Himself to him, He waits for us to obey His previous Words to us before He tells us anything new. Until we do that, then the Lord will remain silent to us.

For those who have yet to put their faith in Jesus Christ, there is but one Message that God has for you:

“He that believeth on [Me] is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18)

Until you respond to that, God has nothing else to say to you. Our access to God, to either speak to Him or hear from Him, is shut up at the Cross of Jesus Christ. There is no other Door through which we may come unto God and there is no other Word that He has for us until we respond to that.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published December 3, 2009]

**All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

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Back To Bethel

“And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai; Unto the place of the altar, which he had make there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.” (Genesis 13:3-4)

Before Abraham journeyed into Egypt, he had built an altar to the Lord between Bethel and Ai (Genesis 12:8). There he called upon the name of the Lord. During his sojourn in Egypt, we are not told that Abraham called upon the name of the Lord. Abraham was out of fellowship with God during his days in Egypt.

After his humiliating expulsion out of the land of Egypt, what is the first thing that Abraham did? He went back to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning. Back to the place of the altar, which he had made there at first. And there he called upon the name of the Lord.

“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works…” (Revelation 2:4-5a)

Whenever we come to the realization that we are out of the will of God, the only sensible thing that we can do is return to the place of calling. The only direction to go is back to the place where we were in fellowship with the Lord. I wonder if the famine that had compelled him to leave, the famine that was upon the entire land of Canaan, had even subsided yet when Abraham returned. Regardless, he had been in a place where his soul was starving for the presence of God in his life, would living in want for physical food be less bearable than this (Job 23:12)?

Whatever conditions we found intolerable in the place of our calling, whatever lure we pursued when we stepped away, tend to be greatly diminished in our own eyes when we become aware of the price that we have paid in departing from fellowship with the Lord. It is at those times that the only thing that we can do is return to whence we came.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published November 30, 2009]

**All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

Leaving The Place Of Blessing

“And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.” (Genesis 12:10)

Abraham, Sarah, Lot, and all of the servants that they had acquired in Haran departed into the land of Canaan. Genesis 12:5 tells us simply that: “They went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.” We so often complain about the hardships and struggles that prohibit us from entering God’s place of blessing for us, but once we resolve the matter in our own hearts, once we trust that He is able to bring us to the place where He is calling us, it is really no difficult matter at all. We, too, can set out for the Promised Land, and into that Land we shall go.

But lest we believe that the matter is forever settled once our feet enter into the Land of Promise, let us read a few verses farther. Abraham, the man of faith, will have his faith tried after he reaches the land of Canaan, for a famine came upon the new land where God had brought him, and Abraham fled into Egypt.

Taking Matters Into His Own Hands

Without question, God’s intention was never for Abraham and his group to starve to death in the Promised Land. But it is also apparent that God did not intend for Abraham to leave Canaan, either. I believe that it was the Lord’s intention to teach Abraham to trust Him. God doesn’t lead us to the Land of Promise just so that we can worry over how we are going to survive once we get there. Nor does He save us just so that we can be anxious over where our next meal is coming from (Matthew 6:25). God will sometimes allow the famines to come into our lives so that we can learn to turn our trust to Him. If we are never in a place of need, we will never look to Him for our provision.

Abraham responded to the famine the same way that we so often do: he attempted to take care of the problem himself. Since he was running out of food where he was at, he would simply go somewhere else. Even though his foot was upon the land that God had clearly told him He was going to give to him (Genesis 12:7), Abraham decided that if he was going to eat, he had better take off for somewhere else. He believed that God could move Heaven and Earth and cause a great nation to spring forth from a childless man in the twilight of his life, married to a barren woman beyond the age of child-bearing, but he did not believe that God could feed him in the land where He had brought him. Are we any different? We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ will one day raise our lifeless bodies and bring us to the Place that He has prepared for us, yet we doubt that He can provide for our most basic of needs in this life?

No Trust For His Safety

“Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.” (Genesis 12:12-13)

So, as they come close to entering the land of Egypt, Abraham pulls Sarah, his wife, aside and makes a most unusual request of her. Do not tell anyone in Egypt that you are my wife because they will kill me so that they can have you. Strange words, indeed, for a man who packed up and left all that he had based on the promise of God that He would make a great nation of him! He was obviously not believing this promise now; how would God make good on His promise if He allowed Abraham to be murdered in Egypt? Yet once we doubt God at one point, it is only natural that we will begin to doubt Him at others. Abraham did not believe that God would continue to provide for his needs back in Canaan, so it was natural that he would stop believing that God would provide for his safety down in Egypt. If we can doubt God’s integrity in one area, how can we possibly maintain our faith in any other?

Pharaoh Has The Last Word

Abraham’s scheme backfired horribly. Sarah had caught the attention of no less than the Pharaoh himself and, supposing her to be unmarried and Abraham to be merely her brother, Pharaoh betrothed her to be his wife. Not only this, Pharaoh bestowed great gifts upon Abraham (thinking him to be her next of kin) and gave to him the finest things of Egypt as a dowry. Abraham had supposed that the heathens of Egypt would be no more than blood-thirsty, wife-stealing criminals, but the behavior of Pharaoh is far and beyond the more honorable than his own. What is more humiliating than when the conduct of the sinner is far nobler than that of the people of God? What can bring more shame upon our heads than when the depraved exhibit a greater sense of morality than we do? The man who had been promised that all of the families of the Earth would be blessed through him (Genesis 12:3) had so far only brought a plague and curse upon the house of Pharaoh by his own sin!

“Now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way” (Genesis 12:19)

God is not relying on our ingenuity to bring about His will in our lives. Once we lose faith in God and decide that we ourselves are going to help His purposes along, we are forced to use the methods and ways of this world. We leave ourselves to nothing but our own humanly devices when we step out of His will for us and, consequently, set ourselves up to fail and fail miserably. Our enemies are not flesh and blood, neither are our weapons carnal. When we step away from God’s will, we forsake His strength and power and we are left standing in a very dangerous place.

We all have the tendency to lean on our own understanding, to want to fall back on using the ways of the world when the times get hard. But we must trust that God will provide for us when we are in His will. The world believes that the end justifies the means, but as servants of God we are obliged to act with the utmost integrity and honesty. We are not afforded the discretion to lie to those around us, even to save our own skin. Our own journey to the Place of Promise must be one where God is honored in every step we take and His holy commandments upheld. How we get there and what we do along the way is important, not just getting there.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published November 27, 2009]

**All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

 

Does God Change His Mind?

"And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart." (Genesis 6:6)

“And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” (Genesis 6:6)

We come across a very unusual statement in Genesis 6:6. We are told that God “repented” that He had made man. This brings us to ask the question: Does God change His mind? Why would a God Who is omniscient and knows the end from the beginning need to change His mind about anything? Are we really being told here that God regretted His decision to make mankind or is something else going on?

“God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19)

We have a dynamic that is repeated again and again throughout the Old Testament wherein God “repents” or “changes His mind” about something. Normally, this change of mind has to do with a judgment that God has pronounced and then withholds (e.g., Exodus 32:10, 14). Invariably, there is a change of mind or repenting on the part of man that is followed by a change of mind or repenting on God’s part. In the example from Exodus 32, God had declared to Moses that He intended to wipe out the entire nation of Israel for their plummet into idolatry and rebellion and begin again with the line of Moses (like He did here in Genesis with Noah). Moses interceded on behalf of the people, causing God to change His mind.

The key thing to see when God “repents” is that it is always the result of the actions of man. God, in His infinite wisdom, does not regret the decisions that He has made, but in His infinite holiness is compelled to change the way that He deals with man based on man’s actions. It was not God’s intention when He created man that it would one day become necessary for Him to blot out all but eight people, but the severity and totality of man’s sinfulness required that He do so. Mankind had become incorrigible to the uttermost, wholly beyond repentance himself. Man would not change his mind about sin, so God was compelled to change His mind about man.

“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:” (Isaiah 46:9-10)

Without a doubt, God knows the choices that man will make and how He will respond accordingly. God is not surprised by anything that man does, but He is obliged by His own holy nature to adjust how He deals with man based upon man’s obedience (or disobedience) to Him. God does not truly “change His mind”, but He does change His interactions with man in response to the changes in man’s behavior.

God repented and changed His dealings with mankind in the days of Noah because of the extreme depravity that had completely filled the entire world. It is simply not possible for a righteous and holy God to allow sin to remain unrequited indefinitely. God will judge sin. God strove with man that man would repent and change the way that he dealt with God (Genesis 6:3). Since man did not, God changed the way that He dealt with man.

We have today the indescribable privilege of choosing how our own sin shall be judged(and it certainly will be judged). If we repent of it and come to Christ that the sin within us is “judged” and ultimately destroyed, we will live. If we remain unrepentant, if we refuse to change our mind about our sin, God will still judge the sin within us – but we will perish with it.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published October 10, 2009]

**All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

Sons Of God, Daughters Of Men

"That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose." (Genesis 6:2)

“That the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.” (Genesis 6:2)

When interpreting this particular enigmatic passage of Genesis, at least three popular theories have been suggested regarding exactly who the “sons of God” are. First, there are those who hold that the “sons of God” are angels who procreated with human women, producing a race of giants. Second, there are those who believe that the “sons of God” are those who descended from the line of Seth, while the “daughters of men” are of the line of Cain. Third, a few have proposed that the “sons of God” were powerful rulers who engaged in polygamy, “taking wives of whomever they chose”, and building up vast harems in the process.

To be completely honest, each point of view has its own problems; and yet each is compelling in its own right –  being supported by its own Scriptural evidence. This is one of those rare Bible verses that has aroused controversy among believers and has also piqued the interest of many non-believers as well. Not long ago, I read an account of a well-meaning preacher who felt so strongly about sharing his own conclusions about this mysterious topic that he devoted an entire sermon, addressed to a huge Bible conference, to systematically presenting his case concerning it.* Additionally, the subject of forbidden love between angels and humans (and the intriguing sounding, “Nephilim” or giants, mentioned in Genesis 6:4) has given rise to romance novels and Hollywood feature films.

As servants of God and students of His Word, the question we must ask is, Is such attention to such controversial passages really merited? We can carefully present the case for the interpretation that we feel is right, and devote a great deal of time in doing so, but what is the end result? Will persuading another believer to subscribe to our particular viewpoint bring them any closer to the Lord? Will educating a non-believer about our own particular ideas in relation to it bring them any closer to accepting Jesus Christ? So, what purpose is served in doing so?

There are controversial areas of Biblical interpretation that are very important to address –  entire doctrines hinge on their correct analysis. But there are many, such as this question over who exactly the “sons of God” were, that are really relatively trivial.  We should give pause before we engage in lengthy, passionate discourses on such verses and ask ourselves if our purpose is to bring glory to God or to satisfy someone’s intellectual curiosity. Our study and sharing of God’s Word should be for the purpose of changing hearts, not entertaining minds.

*Taken From, “Preach It!” – Briscoe, Stuart – (c) 2004, Group Publishing, Inc.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published October 6, 2009]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

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