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nChrist
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« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2006, 11:31:36 AM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference James 5:16 Matthew 12:29 Ephesians 6:12 Genesis 18:22-33

Intercessory Prayer

Genesis 18:22-33

Genesis 18:23-33 records Abraham's intercessory prayer for Sodom, the city where Lot lived.

Abraham asked the Lord if the city could be spared if 50 righteous people could be found (v. 24). The Lord answered, "If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes" (v. 26).

Abraham apparently realized how difficult it would be to find 50 righteous people in Sodom, so he asked the Lord if He would spare the city if He could find 40 righteous people. The Lord agreed to spare the city if 40 righteous people could be found.

Then Abraham lowered the figure to 30 and then to 20. Finally, Abraham said, "Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake" (v. 32).

Abraham knew the responsibility of intercessory prayer. Are you aware of this responsibility? Ours is the responsibility of authoritative prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. It is a spiritual warfare against principalities and powers in high places (Eph. 6:12).

This principle is nowhere better seen than in Matthew 12:29 where Jesus Himself said, "How can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house."

"The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16).

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« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2006, 10:26:54 AM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference 1 Peter 5:8 Galatians 5:16 Genesis 20:1-7

The Disobedient Servant

Genesis 20:1-7

The key to Abraham's backsliding appears in verse 1 of Genesis 20: "Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar."

He journeyed from Hebron, the place of fellowship, and from Mamre, the place of fatness. Why would he leave these places after such wonderful fellowship with the Lord, during which he received the promise of a son to be born the following year?

Why would Abraham leave these places and journey to the south country, toward Egypt--a symbol of the world?

It is not difficult to understand why. Even the best of men still have the old nature remaining in them. There is no eradication of this old nature when we are born again.

Instead, the Scriptures make it very clear that we have to constantly cope with the old nature. Galatians 5:16 says, "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh."

Abraham went away from his altar into the south country. Perhaps he reasoned that he could surely raise up another altar there, even though it was a place of wickedness.

It is sad indeed that a man of such caliber should fall. This was not the fall of a young, inexperienced believer. It was the lapse of a mature, well-experienced disciple of God.

This is something for us to seriously ponder.

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Pet. 5:8).

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« Reply #17 on: January 27, 2006, 01:59:10 PM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference 1 John 5:5 Revelation 21:7 Genesis 20:8-18

The God of the Overcomer

Genesis 20:8-18

When Abraham was guilty of a repeated sin regarding Sarah, he was rebuked by an unbeliever, Abimelech (Gen. 20:9,10).

It is tragic when a believer who is out of fellowship has to be rebuked by an unbeliever. Certainly this is to the believer's shame.

However, this brought Abraham to the root of the problem, and he confessed the sin that he had conceived when he left Ur of the Chaldees (v. 13).

God knew that Abraham would confess his sin, as is evident from what God told Abimelech in the dream: "Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live" (v. 7).

God vindicated Abraham, His friend. God not only forgave Abraham, but He also made Abimelech a debtor to Abraham's prayers, for "Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children. For the Lord had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham's wife" (vv. 17,18).

God enabled Abraham to overcome. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is also the God of the overcomer.

Revelation 21:7 records the promise: "He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son." What God was to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, He will be to you, too, because He is the God of the overcomer.

"Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1 John 5:5)

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« Reply #18 on: January 29, 2006, 01:43:46 AM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference Hebrews 11:6 2 Corinthians 6:14 Romans 4:9-16

Living by Faith

Romans 4:9-16

Romans 4:16 refers to Abraham as "the father of us all." It is logical to ask, "How can this be?" Inasmuch as Abraham separated himself unto God, he is the father of all those who are separated.

There are two aspects of separation indicated by the words "from" and "unto." The believer is to be separated from the world unto God.

The command for present-day believers to have such separation is recorded in 2 Corinthians 6:14: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?"

The two aspects of separation are seen in verse 17 of this passage: "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you." What a wonderful promise!

Because Abraham was such a spiritual giant in the walk of faith, he is also called "the father of all them that believe" (Rom. 4:11). We are not his physical descendants, but we are his spiritual descendants.

We are the children of Abraham in the sense that we walk by faith even as he walked. Galatians 3:29 says, "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."

We are the children of Abraham in the sense that we live by faith in the promises of God even as Abraham lived.

"But without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Heb. 11:6).

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« Reply #19 on: January 29, 2006, 08:32:29 AM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference 2 Corinthians 9:8 Galatians 5:16-26

Constant Grace

Galatians 5:16-26

There are also many contrasts in the life of Abraham.

By faith he left his country; in unbelief he stopped short at Haran. By faith he entered the land; in unbelief he forsook it for Egypt.

By faith he returned to the land to sojourn; in unbelief he took Hagar to bear a child rather than waiting on God. By faith he rescued Lot; in unbelief he lied to Abimelech.

In Abraham we see the conflict of the two natures. The sin nature was constantly in conflict with the nature he had received from God.

This conflict of present-day believers is described in Galatians 5:16,17: "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."

Verses 24 and 25 of this same chapter tell us, "And 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."

Like Abraham, we are frequently inconsistent. But God is calling so He might lead us through to triumph. The Lord referred to Himself as the God of Abraham, not because Abraham was always consistent, but because he allowed God to bring him through to victory.

God did not abandon His man, and in His mercy He will not abandon us. Grace is always at hand.

"God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work" (2 Cor. 9:8).

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« Reply #20 on: January 31, 2006, 02:50:39 AM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference Matthew 5:16 Genesis 23:1-16

Witnessing to Unbelievers

Abraham had daily contact with his unbelieving neighbors, but he was always careful that they knew where he stood with God.

Especially was this true at the time of Sarah's death. Sarah lived 37 years after Isaac was born and died at the age of 127. Abraham mourned for her and sought for a place to bury her.

He said to the sons of Heth, "I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a buryingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight" (Gen. 23:4).

Abraham referred to himself as a "stranger" and a "sojourner," even though he was a man of much wealth. He owned several wells, and that alone made him wealthy. In addition, he had many cattle.

But even with all of this, Abraham had not allowed himself to become attached to worldly possessions. He unashamedly confessed by his words and actions where he stood with God. These people recognized Abraham's greatness because of the way he lived before them.

Although they were not concerned about Abraham's God, he had made such an impact on them by the way he lived that they were willing to give him any land he wanted for a burying place for Sarah.

Abraham refused to be chargeable to his ungodly neighbors. He let it be known that he was a separated man and was going to stay in this separated position. May the same be true of us.

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 5:16).

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« Reply #21 on: February 01, 2006, 07:41:31 AM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference 1 Samuel 16:7 Genesis 21:1-7

God Loves Ordinary People

Genesis 21:1-7

The birth of Isaac was the second great step toward the fulfillment of God's purpose. The first was the selection of Abraham to be the father of the chosen nation.

Isaac's birth marked a crisis in connection with the history of the chosen line of Christ. Even though Ishmael had been born 13 years earlier, God made it clear to Abraham that "in Isaac shall thy seed be called" (Gen. 21:12).

This was the crisis concerning the line of Christ. God had promised Abraham a son, but none had been given.

Abraham had gone in to Hagar, Sarah's handmaid, and a son had resulted from their union--but not the son of God's choice. But at this time in Genesis, God provided the son He had promised.

Isaac led a quiet, peaceful life. He was the ordinary son of a great father, and he was the ordinary father of a great son. Thus, God calls Himself the God of Isaac. The God of Isaac is the God of ordinary people--those involved in the routine of daily living.

Isaac's life was not filled with glory and spectacular events. Yet he had a very meaningful life. He filled his place in life with complete contentment, not looking for the spectacular.

Therefore, a study of Isaac's life will greatly benefit us because most of us are ordinary people desiring to please God in the routine of daily living.

"For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7).

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« Reply #22 on: February 01, 2006, 07:43:19 AM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference Isaiah 43:7 Genesis 25:1-8

Our Highest Goal

Genesis 25:1-8

Genesis 25 records the closing events in Abraham's life. In his last days, he made provision that Isaac would receive all of his inheritance.

In addition to Isaac, Abraham had a son by Hagar and six others by Keturah. Abraham had married Keturah after Sarah's death.

Abraham wanted to make it clear to his other sons that Isaac was the chosen son of promise. By giving gifts to the other sons and sending them away, Abraham took the necessary steps to make Isaac's position free from as many difficulties as possible.

After Abraham had given all that he had unto Isaac, we are told, "Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people. And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah" (vv. 8,9).

This was the cave that Abraham had purchased to bury Sarah in.

God's ways of working are seen in the last statement concerning Abraham: "And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac" (v. 11).

>From Abraham's life recorded in the Old Testament and from verses recorded in the New Testament, we see that God's purpose in placing man on earth is so that man might do His will. Our highest goal is to glorify God by doing His will.

"Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him." (Isaiah 43:7).

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« Reply #23 on: February 04, 2006, 09:22:01 AM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference Romans 8:31-39 Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

Lessons From Isaac's Birth

Romans 8:31-39

>From the account of Isaac's birth there are many important lessons we should learn. Five are extremely significant.

First, God is in no hurry to work out His plans. He is never too late; He is always on time. Man frets and worries and is always in a hurry to work out his plans.

Second, God is almighty. Nothing can hinder or thwart the outworking of God's purpose. Abraham was old and Sarah was barren, but these obstacles presented no difficulty to God.

Third, God is faithful. He promised Sarah a son. From the standpoint of human reasoning, it seemed like a foolish promise. However, the promise of God was sure because He is always faithful in keeping His promises.

Because God's word is absolutely sure, in times of doubt and discouragement we need to come to the Word of God to check our spiritual lives and to remind ourselves of His faithfulness.

Although we may not be able to understand how God can fulfill His promises to us, our attitude should be: If God says it, that settles it.

Fourth, faith is tested so it might be proven to be genuine. A faith that cannot endure trial is really no faith at all.

Fifth, God has a set time for everything. It is important that we learn this lesson well. God has an appointed time for accomplishing His will. Nothing is left to chance.

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born" (Eccles. 3:1,2).

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« Reply #24 on: February 04, 2006, 09:23:22 AM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference 1 Kings 8:56 Genesis 18:14 Hebrews 11:11 Luke 1:26-38

God Keeps His Promises

Luke 1:26-38

Isaac was the child of promise. There were progressive promises made to Abraham, and at first there was some doubting on his part.

But in the New Testament, when God recounted Abraham's life, He completely passed over the fact that Abraham doubted at first (see Heb. 11:11). So also, our sins are blotted out once they have come under the blood of Jesus Christ.

Isaac was a child of miracle because Sarah's womb was "dead." In describing Abraham, the Apostle Paul said, "Being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither the deadness of Sarah's womb" (Rom. 4:19).

At first Sarah did not think there was any possibility she could bear a child, but God asked, "Is any thing too hard for the Lord?" (Gen. 18:14).

This reminds us of the virgin birth of Christ. When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her she would have a son and that she should call His name Jesus, Mary asked, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" (Luke 1:34).

Gabriel assured Mary, "With God nothing shall be impossible" (v. 37). Then Mary responded, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word" (v. 38). Let us also count on the fact that God is able to do what He has promised.

"Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant" (I Kings 8:56).

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« Reply #25 on: February 04, 2006, 09:24:36 AM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference Psalms 119:99 1 Peter 2:2 1 Samuel 1:22-28 Genesis 21:8

Going on to Maturity

Genesis 21:8; 1 Samuel 1:22-28

The Scriptures say that after Isaac was born, he "grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned" (Gen. 21:8).

During Old Testament times, weaning referred to the time in a child's life when he was old enough to be entrusted to strangers. This took place between three and five years of age--and sometimes older.

Samuel is a biblical example. The Scriptures say that when Hannah "had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the Lord in Shiloh: and the child was young" (1 Sam. 1:24).

Growth is also important to the Christian. The Bible instructs believers: "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby" (1 Pet. 2:2).

While the milk of the Word is needed for young Christians, older Christians should be feeding on the meat of the Word.

When Isaac had matured enough to be weaned, Abraham made a great feast "the same day that Isaac was weaned" (Gen. 21:8). This significant time in a child's life was celebrated with a feast.

So also, it is a time of much rejoicing when a believer passes from the "milk stage" into the "meat stage" in his walk with the Lord. It is at this time that the believer leaves his dependence on others and depends on the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

"I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation" (Ps. 119:99).

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« Reply #26 on: February 06, 2006, 01:28:19 AM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference 1 John 5:4 Galatians 5:17 Genesis 21:9-21

Conflict is Inevitable

Genesis 21:9-21

After the birth of Isaac, the true nature of Ishmael was revealed. Nothing of his life is known before Isaac's birth.

Even this points out a significant truth for the believer. It is not until a person receives the new nature, through receiving Christ as Saviour, that he discovers the real character of his old nature.

The discovery is a painful one and even causes some to doubt their salvation as they see the struggle taking place in their lives. However, the very fact that there is conflict is proof of salvation.

There is no conflict when there is only the old nature. But when the new nature comes in to control the life, the old nature sets up an intense conflict.

Paul referred to this conflict when he said, "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" (Gal. 5:17).

This is the condition that results when a person receives Christ as Saviour. He receives a new nature, which is in opposition to the old nature. There is conflict between the spirit of liberty and the spirit of bondage.

Even as in the case of Ishmael and Isaac, where one had to be expelled, the believer cannot yield to both natures but must choose the one he will obey.

"For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" (John 5:4).

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« Reply #27 on: February 06, 2006, 10:46:50 PM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference Genesis 21:11 Ephesians 2:11-16 Matthew 12:30

The Basis of Unity

Genesis 21:11; Ephesians 2:11-16

The Scriptures say that when Sarah demanded that Ishmael be expelled from the household, "the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his son" (Gen. 21:11). The word "grievous" means "bad" or "evil."

Abraham viewed the conflict between his two sons as something evil. No doubt he was also grieved over the necessity of having to send Ishmael away. Perhaps Abraham thought that Ishmael and Isaac would someday be able to live together in harmony.

This is the way many believers view the conflict between their old and new natures. They mistakenly think that the old nature will improve with time and they will have less conflict.

There are also those who think that believers and unbelievers can dwell in harmony and even cooperate in promoting the same organization. This is what the proponents of the ecumenical movement are trying to tell us today

They stress organizational unity and peace, but they do not emphasize salvation by faith in Christ, which is the only thing that can bring about spiritual unity and lasting peace.

"He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad" (Matt. 12:30).

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« Reply #28 on: February 08, 2006, 02:36:50 AM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference Romans 6:6-14 Genesis 21:12

Parting With the Desires of the Flesh

Genesis 21:12; Romans 6:6-14

Although the situation was grievous to Abraham, God said to him, "Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called" (Gen. 21:12).

Abraham was to depend on what God had done for him and had given him in the person of Isaac. This had to do primarily with Isaac's being the covenant heir and being in the lineage of Christ.

Abraham was grieved about having to part with Ishmael, so God emphasized to him again that "in Isaac shall thy seed be called."

Present-day believers also find it exceedingly difficult to part with the desires of the flesh. The struggle is intense, but to cling to the flesh only results in bondage.

God has provided a way for the believer to be free from bondage to the flesh. Paul explained it when he said, "Knowing this, that our old man is [was] crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin" (Rom. 6:6).

Verse 11 of this same chapter says, "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord."

We need to recognize what has been done for us, count it as a fact, appropriate its benefits and continually live for God.

"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).

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« Reply #29 on: February 10, 2006, 01:04:18 AM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference 1 Peter 2:21 1 Peter 1:3-7 Genesis 22:1-2

Testing Has a Purpose

Genesis 22:1,2; 1 Peter 1:3-7

God wanted Abraham to prove that he loved Him more than the things of this life and more than any other person. For this test God chose the person who was the dearest object of Abraham's life--Isaac.

God may sometimes test you this way also. Although the test may be severe and may involve the dearest person or thing in your life, you will be a better person for God as a result of the test.

The offering of human sacrifices was a common practice of the heathen in Abraham's time. However, there is no other incident where God tested a believer in this particular way.

Human sacrifices were strongly condemned by God in the Old Testament. His people, Israel, were to totally abstain from this heathen practice. But with Abraham, God chose this test to prove whom Abraham loved most. God knew what he would do.

When God promised him a son, Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness. But, having received the promised son, there was the danger that Abraham would give more of his attention to the gift than to the Giver.

He knew that out of Isaac would come the descendants God had promised. Abraham was in danger of concentrating on the fulfillment of God's promise to the exclusion of God Himself, who had made the promise.

"Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps" (1 Pet. 2:21).

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