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nChrist
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« on: January 10, 2006, 09:08:44 AM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference James 4:4 Genesis 12:14-20 1 Corinthians 3:12-15

Friend of the World or of God?

Genesis 12:14-20

Abraham's downward steps away from God eventually led to open rebuke.

The Bible says, "Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way" (Gen. 12:18,19).

It is sad when a child of God has to be corrected by the world. All of this came about because of Abraham's lack of faith, which resulted in his going to Egypt--a symbol of the world of unbelief.

We, too, need to be careful about our friendship with the world. The Word of God says, "Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (James 4:4).

Check your life. Are you a friend of the world? According to this verse, if you are a friend of the world, you are an enemy of God.

The time that the Christian spends in a backslidden state is wasted time. Abraham's time in Egypt was wasted as far as his spiritual progress was concerned.

While trying to be a friend of the world, the believer is only building with wood, hay and stubble--which someday will be consumed by the fire of judgment. The believer will receive no reward for this kind of work (see 1 Cor. 3:12-15).

"Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (James 4:4).

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« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2006, 06:50:45 AM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference 1 John 2:1 Proverbs 14:12 Genesis 13:1-4

Results of Backsliding

Genesis 13:1-4

Even though Abraham returned to fellowship with God, irreparable damage had been done. When a believer backslides, he does things he will never be able to undo.

Abraham's testimony had been weakened, and damage beyond repair had been done to worldly Lot, Abraham's nephew. Lot had gone with Abraham to Egypt. The backslider never backslides alone; he always takes others with him.

Even though Abraham had backslidden and had brought about much damage, Genesis 13:3,4 tells us that he went back "to Beth-el, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Beth-el and Hai; unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the Lord."

God has made provision for every backslider. Just as Abraham returned to fellowship with the Lord, you, too, can come back into fellowship with Him if you have backslidden.

First John 2:1 says, "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."

In the first chapter of 1 John, every believer is assured: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (v. 9).

Do not stay in the miserable place of disobedience. Come back to God and confess your sin.

"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Prov. 14:12).

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« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2006, 08:54:32 AM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference Genesis 13:5-13 Galatians 5:16 1 Corinthians 3:1-3

Spirit-Controlled or Carnal?

Genesis 13:5-13

In considering the lives of Abraham and Lot, we see that Abraham's life was symbolic of the Spirit-controlled Christian, whereas Lot's life was symbolic of the carnal Christian.

Unconsecrated Christians who are living according to the flesh are referred to as "carnal" in the Scriptures (see 1 Cor. 3:1,3).

It is never recorded that Lot built an altar. He was not known for his communion with God. As a result, he got into trouble, just as any believer gets into trouble when he does not take time for daily fellowship with God.

I am not referring to a time when the entire family reads the Bible and prays together. This, too, is extremely important, but I am referring particularly to your personal time alone with God.

Perhaps you say you do not have enough time because you are too busy with life's activities. Anything that takes you away from this time of fellowship with God is sin.

Regardless of how much work you have to do, you can find some time to spend with God alone. As a believer, this is your number one prerogative.

The Devil will always see to it that we have little or no time to fellowship with God. But we can--and we must--make time for such fellowship. We must put first things first.

"Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh" (Gal. 5:16).

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« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2006, 03:02:52 PM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference Genesis 14:10-16 Galatians 6:1

Restoring a Brother

Genesis 14:10-16

What should be our attitude when a brother is taken captive by the things of this world?

Some have a distorted concept of separation. W hen they see a brother fall into sin, they shout it from the housetops and publish it in their magazines. This is not what Christ instructed.

Galatians 6 tells us what our attitude should be toward a fallen Christian brother. The Apostle Paul exhorted, "Brethren, if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also" (v. 1, Amplified).

When Abraham realized what had happened to Lot, he became very bold. "When Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus" (Gen. 14:14,15).

God rewarded his courage because Abraham "brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people" (v. 16).

"If a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one" (Gal. 6:1).

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« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2006, 06:25:41 PM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference Joshua 24:15 Psalms 37:16 Genesis 14:17-24

Refusing the World's Offers

Genesis 14:17-24

When the king of Sodom tempted Abraham by urging him to take the earthly goods, Abraham's attitude was the same as the Apostle Paul's.

In 2 Corinthians 4:18 Paul said, "We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."

Because Abraham had been spiritually fortified beforehand, he was ready when the king of Sodom offered him earthly riches. There was no problem because he had already made his choice between that which is temporal and that which is eternal.

Joshua told the people of his day, "Choose you this day whom ye will serve" (Josh. 24:15). The greatest need among present-day believers is to realize there is a choice that has to be made.

Abraham was ready, and his answer was quick, concise and final. Abraham declared God to be his God and that he was confident and determined that God alone would provide his portion.

Abraham declared unashamedly that he would trust God for his every need. He did not want to give either Satan or man the opportunity to say that he had made him rich. What a challenge to us!

"A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked" (Ps. 37:16).

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« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2006, 01:10:21 PM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference Ephesians 1:3 Psalms 19:9-11 Genesis 15:1-6

The Believer's Reward

Genesis 15:1-6

God assured Abraham that He was Abraham's "exceeding great reward" (Gen. 15:1).

The king of Sodom had offered Abraham all the riches that Abraham and his servants had brought back, but he turned them down. Notice that the tense is not past or future, but present. Not "I was" or "I will be" but "I am"--"I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward" (v. 1).

We see from God's promise to be Abraham's reward that God never permits His children to lose when they honor Him and seek His glory. God never leaves His child without spiritual blessings after His child has taken a stand for the glory of God.

Although Abraham had no children at this time, his faith in the Lord is recorded in verse 6: "He believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness."

Because of Abraham's faith in God, he was able to look into the future and trust God for everything.

Ephesians 1:3 tells us that present-day believers have been blessed with "all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ."

But we, too, must set our eyes on the future. We must be those who look to their reward for glorifying God, rather than looking at the temporal satisfactions of the present.

"The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.... And in keeping of them there is great reward" (Ps. 19:9,11).

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« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2006, 06:31:56 AM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference John 8:29 Hebrews 10:35-36 Genesis 16:1-6

Testing Follows Triumph

Genesis 16:1-6

Ten years had passed since God had first promised Abraham descendants, and now three years had gone by since God had reassured Abraham of this same thing.

Whereas in Genesis 15 Abraham is seen as a man of faith, in chapter 16 we see him as a man of unbelief. He could wait no longer for God to fulfill His promise.

A lack of patience tends to foster unbelief. In chapter 15 Abraham believed the Lord; in chapter 16 he hearkened unto the voice of his wife. In chapter 15 Abraham walked after the Spirit; in chapter 16 he walked after the energy of the flesh.

What a sad inconsistency in the life of this man of God. Only Jesus Christ could say, "I do always those things that please him" (John 8:29).

Abraham was tested by the suggestion of a well-meaning wife. Would he take matters out of the hand of God and act in the energy of the flesh?

This test was the trying of the patience of his faith. Would he wait on God to fulfill His word in His own time and way, or would Abraham's patience give out and the flesh take over? God wanted him to have a mature faith.

What would you have done in his situation?

"Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise" (Heb. 10:35,36).

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« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2006, 06:33:26 AM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference Galatians 4:22-26 Matthew 13:58 Genesis 16:6-16

Results of the Lack of Faith

Genesis 16:6-16

After Hagar fled from Sarah's presence, before Ishmael was born, the angel of the Lord said to her, "Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren" (Gen. 16:11,12).

The Arabs are the descendants of Ishmael, and this prophecy of international trouble is being fulfilled today.

The centuries-old conflict between the Arabs and the Jews had its beginning when Abraham tried to use the means of the flesh to produce a spiritual result.

Not only did Abraham's sin produce family and international trouble, but it also produced spiritual trouble. In the New Testament the Apostle Paul wrote of this trouble in Galatians 4:22-26.

When churches or believers leave the simplicity and liberty that is in Christ and return to the works of the flesh, there is nothing but bondage. When religious ceremonies or other activities are substituted for the work of the Holy Spirit, bondage results.

>From this incident in Genesis we see the sad results of relying on the flesh to bring about spiritual results.

"And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief" (Matt. 13:58).

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« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2006, 05:07:23 PM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference Romans 4:19 Psalms 18:30 Genesis 17:1-2

God's Perfect Timing

Genesis 17:1,2

In Genesis 17:1 we are told, "And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect."

Thirteen years had gone by since Abraham had hearkened unto Sarah, and during this time there was no mention of God's appearing to Abraham.

In the Scriptures these 13 years are passed over as a period of spiritual barrenness. For Abraham it was what is known spiritually as a time of wood, hay and stubble.

But why all of this waiting? God had promised Abraham a son, and by this time only Ishmael had been born into his home--by a means that was not pleasing to the Lord. The reason for God's delay was so God could bring Abraham to the end of himself.

Later it was said of Abraham, "And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb" (Rom. 4:19).

Before divine power is put forth, man must learn his own impotency. Not until Abraham's body was as good as dead would God fulfill His word.

Man's extremity is God's opportunity. Though to Abraham this seemed like a long delay, God was right on time. God has a perfect time for everything.

"As for God, his way is perfect" (Ps. 18:30).

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« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2006, 06:37:40 AM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference Ephesians 3:14-21 Psalms 91:1

The Almighty God

Ephesians 3:14-21

By the time of the 17th chapter of Genesis, it had been 24 years since God's first promise to Abraham that he would have a seed and that the land would be given to his seed.

When God now appears to Abraham, He appears to him as "the Almighty God" (v. 1). The Hebrew name for God here is actually El Shaddai. El means "God" or "the Strong One." Shaddai means "nourisher" or " strength-giver." As El Shaddai, God is "the all-sufficient One."

Thus, when Abraham was 99 years old, God appeared to him and gave him a promise that was greater than ever: "I am the Almighty God ... will multiply thee exceedingly" (vv. 1,2).

Whereas Abraham longed for physical seed so that God's promises could be fulfilled, do we long for spiritual seed--for others to come to know Christ under our ministry?

Perhaps in your life you have found times when spiritual fruit does not come. This frequently happens to pastors and evangelists. The tendency then is to resort to unworthy methods to produce results, maintaining that the end justifies the means.

How patiently God bore with Abraham! After the first promise 24 years earlier, God now reveals Himself to Abraham as "the Almighty God." No one but the all-powerful, all-sufficient God could meet Abraham's need at this time.

"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty" (Ps. 91:1).

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« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2006, 06:29:22 AM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference Genesis 17:3-8 Hebrews 13:8 Romans 8:30

Abraham's God Is Our God

Genesis 17:3-8

In Genesis 17, when God changed Abram's name to Abraham the reason is given: "For a father of many nations have I made thee" (v. 5). Notice the expression "have I made thee."

At this time no child has been born to Abraham and Sarah, yet God says He has made Abraham "a father of many nations." What God has promised, He is able to perform. What He has begun, He is able to finish. When God says it, it is as good as done.

This same principle is seen in Romans 8:30: "Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."

We have not yet been glorified, but God speaks of it as a finished work. Why? Because what He begins, He finishes. When it is His undertaking, He sees it through. The time element is in His hands.

We need to realize that Abraham's God is our God.

The promises made to Abraham were promises that almighty grace alone could utter and that almighty power alone could fulfill When the almighty, all-sufficient God displays Himself, man's self must be excluded.

Abraham is set aside in the account at this point. He only listens. Sarah is not mentioned. The bondwoman and her son are, for the moment, not in view. Nothing is seen but the Almighty God in the fullness of His grace and sovereign power.

"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever" (Heb. 13:8).

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« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2006, 03:58:11 PM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference Galatians 5:16-25 Galatians 4:30-31 Romans 7:18 Genesis 17:9-21

Flesh and Spirit in Conflict

Genesis 17:9-21

God did not refuse to bless Ishmael, but He caused Abraham to clearly understand that the covenant would be established with Isaac, who was not yet born.

Ishmael was not to be an heir with Isaac. The Scriptures build on this principle in showing that the flesh (Ishmael) cannot be heir with the Spirit (Isaac).

In the New Testament the Apostle Paul referred to Ishmael and Isaac and drew a parallel to Christians. Paul was emphasizing that the Christian is made mature through the freedom of the Spirit and not through the bondage of the Law.

He wrote: "Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free" (Gal. 4:30,31).

Paul continued the parallel in Galatians 5 when he said, "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would" (vv. 16,17).

In this same chapter Paul also wrote: "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (vv. 24,25).

"For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not" (Rom. 7:18).

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« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2006, 05:39:33 AM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference Genesis 18:1-5 Psalms 91:15 John 14:18-20

God Honors His Own

Genesis 18:1-5

Genesis 18 records how God greatly honored Abraham: "He lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, and said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant" (vv. 2,3).

The Lord Himself, together with two angels, appeared to Abraham. Think of it! The Lord did not honor the sumptuous halls and princely palaces of Egypt with His presence, but He accepted hospitality in the tent of a pilgrim and stranger.

Nor did God go to Lot, who was a believer with many worldly possessions, although later He sent two angels to him. Think of the high privilege of Abraham, the stranger and pilgrim, to host the Lord and two angels!

We, too, are privileged because of our union with Christ. After Christ's resurrection, before He ascended to heaven, He told the believers, "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you" (John 14:18-20).

The believer has God Himself dwelling in him! No higher privilege can be known by those in this life.

"He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him" (Ps. 91:15).

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« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2006, 05:41:12 AM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference Luke 1:37 Genesis 18:6-15

Nothing Is Impossible

Genesis 18:6-15

Sarah had overheard the Lord saying she would have a son: "Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?" (Gen. 18:12).

Sarah was surprised the Lord had detected her laugh, and she "denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh" (v. 15).

Even though Sarah found it difficult to believe, God had given His final announcement that she and Abraham would have a son.

They had waited nearly 25 years, but now was God's time. Abraham was as good as dead, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing, but what God had promised, He was able to perform.

Even though God was going to work the impossible, He was going to use human means. God also wants to work the impossible through us if we will allow Him to do so.

Christ said, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you" (John 15:7). God wants to perform the impossible by using believers as His human instruments.

God asked Abraham and Sarah, "Is any thing too hard for the Lord?" (Gen. 18:14). We, too, must respond to this question. As we face seeming impossibilities, do we think God is unable to perform what He has promised?

"For with God nothing shall be impossible" (Luke 1:37).

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« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2006, 12:33:43 AM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference Deuteronomy 32:10 1 Peter 1:7 Genesis 18:16-21

A Friend of God

Genesis 18:16-21

Abraham's faith grew and developed through the spiritual exercise of testing. This is also why God permits our faith to be tested.

First Peter 1:7 says the purpose of testing is so "the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ."

In Genesis 18 there are some very significant statements about Abraham. The Lord said, "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?" (vv. 17,18).

The Lord was going to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, but He told Abraham first. Truly, Abraham was the friend of God.

God said of Abraham, "For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him" (v. 19).

What a tremendous statement--and to think it was spoken by God Himself! God knew Abraham intimately, and He knows every detail about us.

Are we determined to do His will at any cost? Does He have first place in our lives and thinking? Do we command our children and our household after Him?

"He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye" (Deut. 32:10).

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