Thursday, January 31: Genesis 27- Sibling Rivalry.

Having siblings, and with two of my three being boys, I understand something of sibling rivalry. But nothing like this!

This is the second time Jacob deceived Esau out of a significant element of his heritage. This time the deception was premeditated, a plan of his mother,, Rebekah. Don’t miss Jacob’s deceptive heart. Even  though mom planned it, he was fully complicit and certainly his life actions reveal a sneaky and deceptive trait! It is not hard for me to imagine Jacob manipulating mom into concocting this scheme so that if it goes bad he can say, “It wasn’t me!”

It blows me away that Isaac and God allow this, and that Jacob –the deceiver and schemer that he is- is the God-blessed one through whom God chose to work His salvation plan.

I sit here marveling how God uses someone like Jacob with such obvious flaws!

Then, as if timed with pressing the exclamation mark key on my computer, an image flashes in my head… the person with obvious flaws might as well be ME!

I may not be as overt as Jacob but I know all too well certain flaws that I have and yet in His grace, God uses me.

In an instant I see this story from another angle.  If God can use the likes of Jacob, He can use me and you, as imperfect as we are! Thank you, Lord!

Lord, God, thank You for Your grace. I surrender myself and my life to You. Use me as You wish for the benefit of Your kingdom and Your world. Through Jesus, my Lord, I pray. Amen.


Wednesday, January 30: Genesis 26- Moved by the hand of God.

I found it intriguing how the Lord used adversity, particularly the issue of wells and water, over many years to move Isaac to Beersheba where God then reaffirmed His covenant with Isaac. That night the LORD appeared to him and said, "I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham" (26). God uses unique ways to move us to the place in our life where we can see and receive Him.

Isaac who grew up with plenty, was taken through times of trouble and moving until God revealed Himself to Isaac.

I think back over my own life and with 20-20 hindsight I see how the hand of God was active moving, prompting and orchestrating me to a place where I would say ‘Yes’ when God revealed Himself to me.

How about you? Has the Lord God of the Bible revealed Himself to you? Have you said, “Yes, I believe and I will follow the Lord God?”  If yes… hooray, rejoice…bless God for saving you. If not, maybe today is the day. Maybe you are open today to say, “Yes, I believe and I will follow You, Lord God?”

If you still have thoughts or questions holding you back from allegiance to the God of the Bible, then drop me an email if you like and we can chat about this one-on-one.

Lord, thank You for the way You orchestrate the events of our lives to bring us to places where we are presented with opportunity to receive and confess Jesus as Savior and Lord. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Tuesday, January 29: Genesis 25- Impulsive and opportunistic.

As I watch the linage of God’s people unfold, I notice each one has his/her faults and besetting sin-traits.

Esau was impulsive, a man who in a moment of hunger and exhaustion gave away his birthright as firstborn for a bowl of soup. Interestingly, the text says he ‘despised’ his birthright, he showed contempt for it, which translated, means he despised his heritage. This was not some calculated thought-filled move but rather an impulsive move by a man who could not show self-control and had no forethought. We all have our weakness and faults where sin has its clutches in us.

Jacob on the other hand was shrewd, always willing to seize an opportunity to better himself by taking advantage of others. He was probably also devious, seeking ways and times to take advantage of others. As his name suggests, he was a ‘usurper’!

As I think about these men, I am realizing that I have my besetting sin-traits..sins that manifest themselves in my life over and over again.

This morning is a good time to bring into the light some of my besetting sins that Jesus might begin working with my through His Holy Spirit to gain victory in these areas…

Lord, bring my inner self into the light where I can see it and surrender my sin-traits to You for healing and deliverance, or both.  Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Monday, January 28: Genesis 24- Prayer.

Even though I cannot honestly relate to the story of choosing a wife for a son, I found this passage fascinating as I read it through the eyes of the servant. He is a faithful and honest man. I loved the subtle ways his faith in the Lord played itself out in the finding of Rebecca.

First the servant has his dialogue with the Lord about how he will know the woman is from the Lord. Then as the scenario is playing itself out, the account reads: Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the LORD had made his journey successful (21). The servant was in a constant internal dialogue waiting for the Lord to confirm, in his spirit, that this woman was the woman.

This observation connected with me deeply. It was not simply that she would say the certain words he asked God to have her say. Oh, that was key but the servant was staying close to the Lord, listening, watching and discerning for the move of the Spirit and the internal confirmation that this beautiful woman was God’s choice for his master’s son.

Life with Jesus is like that.  It’s a constant internal dialogue and awareness that God is nudging you or me this way or that. Question is…do I have the awareness of this unnamed servant who was constantly listening for the leading of the Lord?

This is prayer… a connection with the Lord speaking to and listening for His words to lead us.

Lord, Jesus, may I be in constant connection with You throughout today… the kind of connection that prompts me to speak or serve or go and do as this servant had in choosing Rebecca to be the wife of Isaac. Holy Spirit, be with me today, making the voice of my Lord Jesus clear to me, I pray. Amen.


Saturday, January 26: Genesis 23- .

The inevitability of life… Sarah dies. At 120, 30 years after Isaac was born and how many years after she married Abraham, Sarah died.

The older I grow and the longer I am married myself, the more fascinating I find this chapter. Or maybe the word is perplexing. The author, Moses, chooses to focus in on the transaction of buying a burial plot instead of Abraham’s grief or sorrow. In fact the latter is summed up in one partial sentence, and Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep over her (2).

Historically Moses did us a great favor by giving us an incredible glimpse into the social life and business life of the ancient world. But I found myself pondering the eventualities of life… and particularly death of a loved one.

I have not experienced this emotion with a close loved one yet in my life. Both of my parents are still living (in their 90’s) and all of my siblings and their children are all alive. One nephew died at a few months old but I was in high school and not overly connected at the time. And all of my in-law parents and siblings are all living. As an adult, I have yet to bury a close relative.

This story caused me to think about how important my family and especially my wife and children are to me.

And the nudge, I believe of the Spirit came, “Bill, how well are you appreciating and expressing the love you have for your family while they are still living with you?”

This hit me. I surely don’t want to wait till someone dies and then have to deal with the guilt of thinking I wish I had expressed my love more clearly…

Wow, I never expected my time with Jesus to take me to this place today…

Lord, Jesus, thank You for the gift of my family. Help me to get better at appreciating them and loving them. In Your name, I pray. Amen.



Friday, January 25: Genesis 22- God did what He would not allow Abraham to do.

Every time I come to this chapter I shudder. How could God? How could God ask this of Abraham?

How could Abraham? How could Abraham go through with it, and do so immediately (3)?

The absolute and unconditional obedience Abraham displays blows me away, time and time again. I want to obey. I try to obey. But this?! Images of my two sons and my daughter flash in my mind. I see them at their present ages, I see them as tweens, Isaac’s age. I see them as little children. I cannot imagine that I could/would have been obedient like Abraham. I have goose bumps thinking about this.

It happens every time I read and attempt to enter this chapter.

In addition to the above, verse 8 hit me like never before. The text reads, Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together. I know the story. I know about the ram caught in the thicket.  Then one word flashed in my thoughts…Jesus.

God did provide the sacrifice that day with the ram. And God provided the ultimate sacrifice, God’s one and only Son, Jesus. Father God did what He would not allow Abraham to do! God sacrificed His son as the offering for our sin and rebellion and inability to obey!

I sat in silence… marveling at the Father’s love for us.

No words seemed adequate.

Thank You, Oh my Father, for giving us Your Son… Thank You… Amen.


Thursday, January 24: Genesis 21-What's in a name?.

Where did I hear the whisper of the Lord this morning? That thought ran through my mind as I finished reading this chapter. Three distinct scenes make up this chapter. I paused and pondered. God’s faithfulness; section one, the birth of Isaac. Man’s capacity to hate or God’s faithfulness; section two, sending away of Hagar. The giving of our word, treaties; section three.

I was drawn to section one, but found myself contemplating the name Isaac, which means ‘laughter’. Names, particularly in ancient times, represented something significant about the one named. Now I don’t know if I would want to grow up with the name laugh or laughter (although I do have a friend who named a son Laughter), and yet the name is both fitting and a great opener to God’s wonder. Imagine Isaac –Laughter- telling the story of his name, “…and then at 90, you heard me right, 90, my mom conceived me. I mean dad was 100! You know what God promises He delivers. I am living proof of this…”

I found myself smiling as I thought about the wonder of God and the ways God has showed up and revealed Himself to me. Is God good or what?  This is where my devotion traveled today. I pondered the goodness of God, the wonder of God…

Lord, may my life give glory to You this day and every day. Through my Lord, Jesus, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, I pray. Amen.


Wednesday, January 23: Genesis 20- What kind of a person am I?.

What kind of people were kings back then? Did they have absolute control and power over everything and everyone? I’m thinking about the situation. Abraham is almost 100 and Sarah 90 (the next story told is the birth of Isaac, and God has already promised Abraham a son within the year Gen 18:10). and is pregnant and Abimelech is taking her into his house to be his wife. What kind of world is this? I just cannot fathom the scene.

Were people that powerful, overbearing, even sexualized, that men in power saw a new woman and wanted to have her? My head is spinning…

Slowly God spins my head back around and asks me some questions, “Bill, what kind of life are you broadcasting to others?  Bill, where are your blind spots and moral failings?” Introspection comes slowly.I remain puzzled by life in Abraham’s day. It is easier to ponder the days of Abraham than I force myself to consider my life. And yet, it is only when I deal with my life that I will grow in following Jesus…

Lord, I lay my life bare before You. Show me my faults, ills, and sins, and lead me to deeper places with You. I pray in Jesus’ name and for the sake of Your kingdom. Amen.


Tuesday, January 22: Genesis 19- Hospitality.

Too many times this chapter chronicles the wickedness of the human heart. Much of this chapter reviles me. The further I read into the chapter, the more uncomfortable I became with the actions of the characters in this account.

I was thankful that the impulse of the Lord to linger came early in the chapter, verse 1-3, specifically. I watched as Lot went out of his way to show hospitality to the two visitors.

Hospitality was the devotional topic yesterday and here God was showing it to me again. I wondered if Lot learned his gracious hospitable way from his uncle Abraham. This thought seemed to resonate with me. There are certain families who seem to have hospitality in their DNA. Parents seem to pass it onto their kids…true neighborly hospitality. It is a wonderful sight and a delight to be included in gatherings of that family.

As my thoughts circled back to me and my faith-life, I wondered if God could grow in me the hospitality displayed by Abraham (yesterday’s reading) and Lot today. Maybe what God teaches me will rub off on those of my inner circle.  Thus the gift of hospitality is actually multiplied.

Lord, may that be so.  In fact, Lord, I pray that all characteristics that I carry will honor and glorify You. I pray that my life would influence others to live similarly before You. And, Lord, I pray that those traits that I display that DO NOT honor You….well, Lord, I pray that You limit my ability to influence others negatively. And maybe, Lord, Your way of limiting my bad traits is to disciple me to overcome and win victory over them.

Change my life, Oh God, may it be ever true to You… Amen.



Monday, January 21: Genesis 18- Hospitality.

I love the conversation Abraham has with God at the end of the chapter, the many rounds of give and take, Abraham’s boldness to ask God these things. I long for the kind of relationship Abraham had with the Lord.

But what stuck to my ribs this morning was the picture of hospitality that emerges in the early verses of the chapter. Hospitality is a lost characteristic in my western 21st century life. I am, and people are, simply too busy for this kind of hospitality and the depth of relationship that comes with it.

Although the scene takes only a few moments to read, it describes the greater part of an afternoon. Abraham initiates the hospitality by rushing out to speak with and offer water and a cool spot to rest during the heat of the day to the three travelers. When they accept, he has his wife bake bread… no simple task when you start with flour and cook over an open fire. Then Abraham rushes to the field and chooses a choice animal and has his servant butcher and cook it. I have never done this but it certainly isn’t a microwave meal. Like I said, it was an afternoon affair. All the while Abraham sat and talked with them… CONNECTION and RELATIONSHIP!

Little wonder how Abraham had the ‘chutzpah’ to have the ‘give and take’ with the Lord about Sodom!

Hospitality of this depth requires time but it also offers the opportunity to truly get to know one another. I know I have lost this grace but I am wondering what I can do to find it?

Lord, open my heart to this kind of hospitality, the kind that will spend time with others building bridges of connection, friendship and, yes, even love. Through Jesus’, who came and lived among us awhile so He could know what it is to walk in our shoes, name. Amen.


Saturday, January 19: Genesis 17- Obedience.

In the midst of God’s conversation with Abraham, God spoke these words, But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year (21). I don’t recall God naming Abraham’s son before but there it is. God gave Isaac his name and God gave Abraham a specific time for the fulfillment of His promise of a son.

Sometimes God speaks a very specific word to us, like He did naming Isaac and giving a tight window for his birth. Other times God’s call is less specific, requiring us to step out in faith, as God did when He called Abram to leave his people and go to a land God would show him. Either way God expects one thing from us.. obedience.

Abraham at 99 obeyed God that very day as he and all the males in his house were circumcised. Twenty five years earlier when God told Abram to leave his people and country, Abram left straight away (Genesis 12:4). 

How are you in the obedience department? Think about it… I am.

Lord, God, fill me with such awe, wonder and fear of You that I dare not live anyway but in obedience before You. Through Jesus, my Lord, I pray. Amen.


Friday, January 18: Genesis 16- Waiting .

Oh, the mess we create when we try to do God’s job for God. God made a promise, guaranteed it in fact. I wrote about that yesterday. Now in the very next chapter, Sarai and Abram are taking matters into their own hands and what a mess they make. There is blaming, outside of marriage sex, hard feelings galore, bitterness and the son born will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers" (12). Oh, how that has proven true over the millennia.

What would Abram and Sarai’s alternative have been?   To wait. To wait on God, to continue to live faithfully and wait for God to do what He said He would do, give Abram a son through Sarai, his wife.

Waiting is not my best suit… waiting is not the best suit for many of us…

I have to be careful that resignation and/or resentment do not blossom when I wait. I want things now. In this I am very much a product of my culture and society. It is not a good quality.

I sit this morning realizing how often and how long God asked His people to wait… to wait for His timing.

Is there a place in your life where God is asking you to wait right now? I am asking that of myself ,too. What does it mean to live faithfully during your time of waiting???

This is something for me to chew on this day…

Lord, I know I am not a good waiter. I need Your help, Your strength, to faithfully wait for Your promises to be fulfilled in my life. Show me, Jesus, what faithful waiting looks like for me right now. I pray in Your name. Amen.


Thursday, January 17: Genesis 15- God guarantees it all.

So much is happening in this chapter, which culminates with a covenant God makes with Abram. In the ancient world when two parties made a covenant they would cut an animal and the lesser of the two parties would symbolically pass between the two halves of the carcass. With this action the lesser party said, in effect, if I break this covenant, then do to me what I have done to this animal.

What is so astounding is that God, symbolized by the smoking fire pot, is the one who passes through the sacrificed heifer! When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, "To your descendants I give this land … God put His name on the line with this covenant guaranteeing that Abram would become a great nation.

Whenever I read this I sit in awe of God. God guarantees the covenant!

Lord, what can I say? Tthank You! Thank You!



Wednesday, January 16: Genesis 14- Random thoughts.

Who was this king of Salem (Jerusalem), Melchizedek and why did Abram give him a tithe (10%)?  My hunch from the flow of the text is the giving of the tenth was in response to the blessing Melchizedek bestowed on Abram on behalf of God Most High. The book of Hebrews many references to Melchizedek in chapters 5-7 helps me understand that this is an important passage in Jewish understanding.

Abram, as the patriarch, risks his life to save his nephew. This says much to me about responsibility, since Abram was responsible for bringing Lot to the Promised Land.

Abram musters 318 men.  It seems that this massive battle of 4 vs. 5 kings was not a ‘world war.’ Instead it was city-states fighting against one another.

Humans have been fighting since Cain attacked Abel. Some people seem to romanticize ancient peoples and tribal cultures speaking of them as if they are so good compared to modern warring cultures. But the truth is ancient peoples were just as fallen and sin-filled as we are. No society human beings create is a sin-free, pain-free culture. Our sin and selfishness rears its ugly head in the bush, in the cities and in the suburbs, among the poor and rich, too. Human sin and selfishness reared its head in the ‘so named’ first world, the second world and in third world societies.

Just as Lot needed a savior to save him from the clutches of King Kedorlaomer and his allies, so we need a savior to save us from our sins and the clutches of the Satan, ruler of this world. Jesus is the one who can save us from Satan’s clutches. He is there. Will you let Him save you?

Lord, Jesus, thank You for saving me from my own sins and the clutches of Satan who longs to destroy me. Amen.


Tuesday, January 15: Genesis 13- Trusting God when promises are in process.

I am impressed with Abram’s faith displayed in this chapter. Abram knows God promised to give his offspring the land (Gen 12:7). As of yet Abram had no offspring and now both his men and Lot’s men were quarreling because they had too much livestock to live in the same area.

What does Abram do? He lets Lot pick. “Lot, you get first dibs.  Go to whatever portion of the land you want and I will go somewhere else.”

I see that as an incredible act of faith. Abram had a sense that God was watching out for him so he didn’t need to claim the best because, after all, God had promised it to him. Instead, Abram allowed Lot to choose. God, after all, can bless Abram wherever he goes.

From a human perspective Abram’s offer was a stroke of genius. Allowing Lot to choose kept hard feelings to a minimum. Lot was honored and the chances of future clashes significantly reduced.

From a faith perspective Abram trusted that no matter what the move, God’s promise still stood and God would bring it to pass. God’s promise was in progress but Abram didn’t know how things would work out…

Abram didn’t always display this depth of faith but on this day and in this decision he did.

Lord, you are showing me that real faith impacts life decisions. As I believe, so I will act. In fact, actions put faith on display. Actions cause a person’s faith to become visible.

Actions make faith visible.

Now that’s a profound thought, which leads to an introspective question. If an outsider, examined my actions, in what would s/he say I put my faith?

Lord, I sit with that question…

Help me adjust my life so that You are the obvious answer… Amen.


Saturday, January 12: Genesis 11- For the common good .

With the Babel account, I immediately think of languages but there is more going on here. People, united in language, had great ability to accomplish great things. They planned to build a great city with a great tower so they could make a name for themselves. The goal was to be famous, to have renown, to glory in themselves rather than God.

This story started my wheels spinning. First, people were ingenious and resourceful and together they could do anything, nothing would be impossible for them (6).

On the one hand this saddens me, oh the good that could be accomplished if we humans could band together… eliminate hunger, eradicate disease and so on. 

Yet, we so often turn our ingenuity and resourcefulness to self-glorification. We want to be god, to rule our lives, to captain our destinies.. We also want to be numero uno and sit on the top of the heap. But to be on the top means others have to be below us. God had ordained that people be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth (Gen 1:28) but they didn’t wanted to be scattered over the earth. Their search for a name was also a stand against God and God’s will.

My next stop was thinking about the redeemed, the church. We have been made new. God has given us a new heart.  That means we can win the battle against sin and selfishness.  If that is the case then, oh the good we can do if we were to band together for the common good.

Think about it…

Lord, help me, help us, Your people, to reach deep into to our ingenuity and resourcefulness to do great things that honor You and serve others. Lord, give me strength to reject the voice of sin that says ‘make a name for yourself’ and help me, with all my breadth, to seek to glorify Your name and Your name, alone, with my life. Through Jesus, my Lord, I pray. Amen.



Friday, January 11: Genesis 10- We have a story.

Name lists don’t rock my devotional world. I am not one interested in I don’t know much about my grandparents and my particular heritage. But I found myself thinking as I read this list of names…

We all have a story! We each have a history, we have a lineage and we are connected to others.

The next thought I had is that God Almighty knows our story. God knows we our history. And the first ten chapters of Genesis records that our history and our story are connected with and to God Almighty.

God knows our story… we are important to God.

God is part of our story… God should be important to us.

Thank You, Lord God, for creating us… me. Thank You, Lord God, for telling me our story… my story. And Thank You, Lord God, for showing me that my story is because of You. You created, You initiated, You recorded and You remember our story… my story.  Thank You, Lord God. Amen.



Monday, January 14: Genesis 12-. The heart of God

For years and years Abram’s story has been one of those ‘pay attention to me’ stories. There is something about the realness of Abram. He is an incredible mixture of incredible trust in God –leaving his home to follow the Lord- and lack of trust in God –asking Sari to say she was his sister in order to save his skin.

This trust mixed with lack of trust in God is so human. I battle with it every day. My lack of trust in God probably is as deep as Abram’s but my trust in God has never reached the heights of Abram. This is probably why I resonate with Abram.  He is real to me.

Another reason I perk up when I come to Abram’s account is found in verse 2-3. God’s promise to Abram is astounding!

"I will make you into a great nation

and I will bless you;

I will make your name great,

and you will be a blessing.

I will bless those who bless you,

and whoever curses you I will curse;

and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."

I stare at all of the ‘I’s’ and marvel at all that God will do! God puts His name and therefore His reputation on the line in these promises to Abram.

God also shows His heart and this is where I paused to ponder and marvel this morning. I found myself staring at the final blessing, then shifting my gaze and thoughts outside my picture windows into the world and then I’d come back to the text.

I will bless those who bless you … and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

As a son in God’s family through faith in Jesus Christ, I am a faith-descendant of Abraham’s.  What am I doing to see that the blessings I have received from God, through faith in Jesus, are passed on to all peoples on earth?

God’s desire is to bless all peoples.  How am I availing myself to God to be a tool in His hand, to accomplish His desire, to bless all peoples?

I have been wondering lately about what more I could be doing to spread God’s blessing throughout the world…

Lord, I am a jumbled mess of trust and lack of trust. You know that all too well. Yet within me, Lord, is a yearning to extend Your name and to see Your blessing reach all peoples. Speak with me, Lord, show me, tell me what I should be doing. Lord, I know, too, that You will probably have to tell me more than once because I am such a mixture of trust and lack of trust. Forgive me when lack of trust wins out over trust.  Strengthen me to live more and more trustfully. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen



OOOPS Server Problems

Dear Readers, thank you for your faithfulness in reading the Bible with me. I apologize for the for the mix-up of the last few weeks. We only discovered yesterday that our server hadn’t sent readings for the last two weeks and then when it finally did send the posts they were in confusing order.

Hopefully the server issues have been corrected and I have reordered the readings so that they follow the order in which they were written.

Thanks for your faithfulness in reading the Bible with me…

Grace and Peace,


Thursday, January 10: Genesis 9- Marred by sin.

Noah and the occupants of the ark get a clean start. Societal evils have been purged from the face of the earth.  Just imagine that! It truly is a new day and a new world with no external sin-temptations!

So what happens? Sin happens!

The first post-ark story told about life after the flood is a sin story. Noah gets drunk, and Ham sees his father’s nakedness and invites his brothers to join him in seeing dad’s nakedness… SIN.

Sadly this reminds me that sin comes from within. Oh, external invitations to sin in our world are plenty and are enticing. But even if all external sin enticements disappeared –as they did for Noah and his family- I would find a way to sin because sin is a heart issue.

Scripture teaches that we are sin-filled to the core, every last one of us. And it is absolutely true. Every day I must deal with my propensity to sin, often emerging as selfishness. As God warned Cain, sin is crouching at the door, it desires to have you, but you must master it (Gen 4:7). And the door of sin is my own heart…

Lord, help me to listen to Your Holy Spirit, that I might master the sin impulses in my life and NOT sin against You. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


An additional tidbit… I wonder if at initial creation humans were herbivores? Genesis 1:29: Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.

Only after the flood do we hear Genesis 9:3: Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

Hmmm….something to ponder…


Wednesday, January 9: Genesis 8- To be remembered.

Have you ever been forgotten? I can’t say that I have but I have been the forgetter. On a mission trip in Mexico, a group of us went to a market, which was not is a great section of Juarez. When we were finished, we jumped into our van and headed back to our compound. After a few minutes we realized that we left a woman behind. No cell phones, we doubled back as quickly as we could. Thank God she was safe.
One day after worship my wife and I, who had driven separately, realized when we got home that neither of us had our youngest son. I was the last to leave so I had messed up and forgotten him. I was embarrassed when 30 minutes later I returned to the church to pick him up!
To be forgotten is a lonely place… and can be a fear-filled place, too.
Have you ever had a birthday or big event go by and no one remembers?  That is a lonely place. We feel so insignificant…
Moses begins his telling of this with the words, But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, … (1)
God remembered!
After surviving the devastating flood and waiting out receding waters, Noah could easily have felt abandoned. What’s next God?  Where will we live? How will we survive? Will we ever get out of the ark? Questions bombard us when we are lonely and fearful…
But God remembered Noah…
To be remembered… is a gift and a delight. To be remembered fills our heart and mind and soul.
God remembered Noah
I sat and pondered God remembering me! Oh, what a thought!
I am loved and cared for by a remembering God. A God, the God who never, in fact, forgets! Good news…you, too, are remembered by the Lord!
Praise to the Lord the Almighty, the King of Creation!
Lord, God, thank You for never forgetting me. Better still, thank You for remembering me. Praise You, Lord God Almighty, Praise You. Amen

Tuesday, January 8: Genesis 7- Are you connected to Jesus?.

Then the LORD shut him in (16b).
Amidst the ravages of God’s judgment, the tender hand of the Lord shut the ark, securing Noah, his family and animals safely within the ark.
What a stark and telling image. To many, God’s hand was wreaking havoc and judgment. To Noah and his family, God was kind, compassionate and caring. How can this be?
I see here the dual necessity, albeit opposite outcomes, of judgment and mercy!
God is both love and justice…
I am more terrified by this picture than I am comforted.  It is a sad day. Judgment of wicked is never pleasant.
This account foreshadows the final judgment, at that time all those who have called on the name of Jesus will be saved. They will be the ones safely protected from the wrath and judgment of God.
Are you connected to Jesus? Think about it…
Today scripture will be my prayer…
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name (Jesus) under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame."  For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile--the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:9-13)

Monday, January 7: Genesis 6- What would I do if I were Noah?.

After reading this chapter I began to wonder what I would have done if I were Noah? What I wondered about was if I would obey God’s command if it were as strange and seemingly irrational as God’s Words must have seemed to Noah. Flood the earth… build an ark… put two of every creature on the ark… God will destroy all life except the people and animals on the ark. I mean that would be mind-blowing today. What must it have been like for Noah?
Would I have obeyed? I just don’t know.
God says, ‘Make disciples of all nations’.  What am I doing about that?
God says, ‘Love my neighbor’.  Do I do that?
If I am not particularly good at these commands, what would make me think I would have listened to God, built an ark and loaded it as God said?
Obedience, Noah is a model of obedience…
God, forgive me because I am not a model of obedience. Forgive me, Lord. Forgive me.
Show me, Lord, what I should do to train myself for service and obedience to You.
This is my prayer as I begin my 2013 journey with You. Amen.

Saturday, January 5: Genesis 5- Awed by God.

I was fascinated by the description of the creation of humanity as the chapter opens.  This is the third such description (see Genesis 1 & 2 for the others). I think it was the simplicity of the description that caught my attention.
When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them "man."
Grammarians would probably have a nightmare reading these sentences, with the singular and plural pronouns growing off the word ‘man.’
I saw profoundness is all of this… man as singular, man as plural, man as ‘him’ man as ‘them, male and female.’ One constant is God and that God created ‘man,’ however you use the word.
I spent the remainder of my time contemplating God the Creator.  How God created man, as in ‘humankind’, and God created man, as in ‘individual men and women’.
As I rolled all of this around in my thoughts, a profound awe and marvel for God grew within me.
Are you awed by God? I am and my awe grows seemingly every time I spend time with Him in His Word.
Lord, I look forward to tomorrow, when I can spend time with others worshipping You and praising You. And Lord even more, there will be people gathered all around this globe worshipping You in different languages and cultures and in some mystical way I will be with all these sisters and brothers as we worship You –Father, Son and Holy Spirit- as the one true and only God.
Oh, God, what a joy that will be … Amen.

Friday, January 4: Genesis 4- Crouching at the door .

God’s story begins to speed up.  With sin in the world, evil rears its ugly head.
Cain and Abel, the first two born of Adam and Eve, give offerings to the Lord. Abel’s offering was the best of his herds. Cain’s was not ‘best’ quality and God was not pleased.  Cain grew upset.
At this point God spoke words to Cain that caught my attention. Here is what God said, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it" (6-7).
The imagery of the last sentence launched my meditations thinking.
But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door…  the image of a tiger slinking closer and closer to her prey poised in the grasses waiting to pounce, flooded my thoughts. Sin is a cunning enemy, a skilled hunter always lurking, waiting to pounce upon an unsuspecting prey. I must be diligent. I ‘know’ when I am living foolishly, straying from the safety of God’s Word and putting myself in danger. But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door!
God continues with Cain…sin desires to have you, but you must master it." Sin desires to have me… it licks its lips when it sees me.  Straying from the safety of living as God desires, puts me in danger. I must stay close to God and when He says run, I take off because danger lurks. I bear certain responsibility to live in such a way that I am out of reach of a dangerous enemy. I must master it!
Lord, though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, I will not fear for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us…
Oh, God, may I understand the wisdom of Martin Luther and place all my trust in You! Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Thursday, January 3: Genesis 3- The blame game .

Apparently we humans have been playing the blame game since 'The Fall’.
It’s not my fault…’so and so’ made me do it! That’s the blame game, placing responsibility for my life on to someone else when things go wrong.
Adam and Eve started the game immediately, attempting to cover their culpability in eating the forbidden fruit. God turns to Adam and asks, “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?"
The man said, "The woman you put here with me--she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." It’s not my fault God, the woman YOU gave me … she made me do it!
Then turning to the women, God asks, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." It’s not my fault God, the serpent you put here… it made me do it!
We have been passing the buck ever since.
I mused about blaming others for my mistakes.  I can play that game with the best of them. And it is never good. Oh, in the moment it seems to relieve me of my responsibility but most often the truth comes out and then the weight of my mistake is greater, compounded by my lying and trying to wriggle out.
I wondered about why taking responsibility can be so difficult. I love taking responsibility when I do something right or well!
As I pondered all this, I found little comfort in the fact that Adam and Eve struggled with responsibility and so resorted to the blame game. It simply made me realize how deeply it was imbedded in the human psyche and therefore how hard it will be to overcome in my life…
Here’s to taking responsibility… ending the blame game in my life.
It won’t be easy but by God’s grace and help, it can be done.
Lord, I pray for Your grace and help to end the blaming of others and taking responsibility for my life. I pray for good and healthy communication skills as I live with and for You and with and for others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Wednesday, January 2: Genesis 2- Take care of it .

I notice a contrast between verse 15 in today’s reading (The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it) and the idea of “rule over” in chapter 1:28 (God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over …") And I found myself pondering our (humanity’s) responsibility to care for the earth.
‘Rule over’ creates images in my mind of getting whatever I want. I rule, therefore I get what I want. ‘Take care of’ is a softer image. I think of a mom caring for her baby. I just spent a few days with friends who are dog people.  Watching them take care of Rosie is a tender thing. I checked the meaning of the word and sure enough it means “to exercise great care over.” The caregiver provides for the needs of the care receiver.
When I apply this to the earth, it suggests that I have a responsibility to live in such a way as to maintain the earth and not harm it for future inhabitants of the earth.
The implications of this are huge. I decided to ponder it personally as opposed to say, nationally. How can I live up to God’s directive to take care of the earth? Some quick thoughts…
  • Driving responsibly….not guzzling gas for the sake of convenience only.
  • Recycling…my town makes this easy with one-bin recycling, and utilizing recycled consumables.
  • Buying a water bottle and refilling it rather than going through 100s of disposable plastic bottles.
  • Similarly, using a mug for coffee & tea at work rather than grabbing a paper cup each time.
  • Composting when possible rather than filling landfills (which are often packed so tight that things don’t decompose naturally) with vegetable consumables.
If you have other ideas or comments and let me know.
What struck me this morning is that these practical ways of ‘living green’ are Biblically faithful and honoring to God. 
Lord, thank You for the world and the earth You have given us. In light of Genesis 2 help me to do what I can to take care of this earth you have given to me, to us, to those who will come after us until the time You return and bring with You the new heaven and new earth. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013: Genesis 1- God! .

As I began reading I decided to count the occurrences of the name ‘God’ and ‘He’ and other pronouns when it referred to God. Thirty eight (38) was my count. Thirty eight (38) times this chapter references God creating and speaking.
Being the opening chapter of the Bible, it is clear God is the main player. This chapter opens God’s story, God’s story as God relates to the world and to humans whom God created to fill and rule over the earth.
I found myself marveling at God and God’s creation. In fact I was sitting in Colorado surrounded by mountains and beauty as I wrote this devotional and I had just left southern CA with its beaches and beauty… so the majesty of God and His creation was vivid in my mind. God created all of this and then He created us to share in it.  Wow!!…
Then I thought for a few minutes about God’s desire to connect and communicate with us, humans of His creation.
What an incredible way to start the day, contemplating the creator God, who made heaven and earth and made me and you to live in relationship with Him…
I am breathless, no words form on my lips. I am in awe of You, dear Lord. I praise You and I love You. Amen.