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January 5

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“to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the Lord” (Genesis 13:4 NKJV).

From: January 5, 2020

RETURN TO THE FIRST PLACE AND CALL ON THE LORD

After God rescued Abram from Pharaoh, having gone down to Egypt because of the famine, he returned to the old altar he had built near Bethel and Ai. There he once again called on the name of the Lord.
 
Abram had a habit of going “down to Egypt” whenever famine hit the land of Canaan that his descendants also followed. Although it may not always have been the case, “going down to Egypt” often represented Israel’s dependence on the world rather than on God. Abram, whose name was later changed by God to Abraham, was a man of great faith, but he was also a man with all the shortcomings of humanity.
 
However, Abram did not stay in Egypt, but returned to the land to which the Lord had called him. There he returned to the “place of the altar which he had made at first.” Perhaps the Bible refers to the “place,” because although Abram had returned, the altar had fallen into disrepair or had somehow been destroyed. Yet it seemed important to Abram that he return to the place of the altar he had made at “first.” Because sometimes we must return to “first” things in our relationship with the Lord in order to find our bearings again, especially when we have wandered off course.
 
In the letter that Jesus told John to write to the church at Ephesus, He warned that they had forsaken Him as their “first love” (Rev. 2:4). He instructed them to “repent and do the first works” (Rev. 2:5) again. After wandering off to Egypt, Abram returned to the first place he had built an altar to worship the Lord.
 
With the beginning of this New Year, do we need to do the same? Have we wondered off course and forsaken our first love? Let us return to the first place and call upon the name of the Lord.
 
PRAYER: Dear Father, our hearts are prone to wander, yet we would return to You. Forgive us when we wander and lose our zeal for Your calling on our lives. Strengthen us to return and do the first works that You have called us to do. Thank You for Your love and calling on us. In Jesus’ name, amen.

“All the families on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3 NLT).

From: January 5, 2019

GOD PREACHED THE GOSPEL TO ABRAHAM BEFOREHAND

God called Abram to leave his country and relatives, saying “go to the land that I will show you” (Gen. 12:1). And Abram obeyed God’s call. God had selected Abram for a particular purpose. For the Messiah would come through his family line.
 
The apostle Paul called this blessing, the gospel that God preached to Abraham “beforehand” (Gal. 3:8). Because of Abram’s obedience to God’s call, the Lord changed his name to Abraham, saying “No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations” (Gen. 17:5).
 
This call is now given to all who follow Jesus. For He commands us to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19).
 
Has your family been blessed by the gospel?
 
PRAYER: Lord, give us the faith to obey Your call to go to the nations with the gospel. Thank you for the blessing you gave Abraham, that is now ours. Give us the willingness to leave behind whatever holds us back and go where you send us. For we are Yours, O Lord. In Jesus name, Amen.
 

“At that time a severe famine struck the land of Canaan, forcing Abram to go down to Egypt, where he lived as a foreigner” (Genesis 12:10 NLT).

From: January 5, 2018

Abram began a pattern of going “down to Egypt” when famine hit the land of Canaan that his descendants also followed. Although it may not always have been the case, “going down to Egypt” often represented Israel’s dependence on the world rather than on God. Abram, whose name was later changed by God to Abraham, was a man of great faith, but he was also a man with all the shortcomings of humanity.

“So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran” (Genesis 12:4 NKJV).

From: January 5, 2017

Abram obeyed God’s call to leave his home and go to a land that God would show him when he was 75 years old. At an age when most have long since retired, Abram had just got started. Abram obeyed God’s call. And God changed his name from Abram, which means “father,” to Abraham, which means “father of nations.” Abraham believed God and he credited it to him as righteousness.

Do you think it’s too late for you to obey God’s call on your life? Think again.

“O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch” (Psalm 5:3 ESV)

From: January 5, 2016

This is more an expression of resolve by the petitioner than an expectation that the Lord will hear the petition. “O Lord, in the morning [and every morning thereafter] you [will] hear my voice.” The psalmist David is expressing his determination to begin his days in prayer. He uses metaphoric language in the Hebrew to describe how he will pray. He speaks like an archer, saying “I will send my prayer towards You and to You alone, and watch to see that it hits the target.” Or like a priest, David plans to “prepare” his prayer like a morning “sacrifice,” arranged carefully upon the altar, and then, to watch the smoke arise to the throne of heaven. David is determined to begin his days in the offering up of prayers to God. These will not be sleepy, memorized mutterings, but carefully considered and arrayed prayers… prayers aimed at the heart of God.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3 NKJV)

From: January 5, 2015

This is the first of the Beatitudes in Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. Each one begins with the word, “Blessed” (Μακάριοι, Makarioi – blessed, happy, completely satisfied). This is not a state related to circumstance, but to God’s divine grace. Each one is also somewhat paradoxical or ironic, in that the recipient of the blessed state is not one usually considered so by the world. This is the world-turned-upside-down, Kingdom economy that Christ introduces. Here, the one who admits his spiritual poverty (“poor in spirit”), who confesses his sin and separation from God, this is the one who will be blessed by God giving him the Kingdom of Heaven. Yet, the opposite is also implied, that the one who thinks himself rich spiritually, already satisfied, this one will not enter the Kingdom. Are you spiritually hungry and impoverished in yourself? The recognition of this is a gift. Admitting your spiritual poverty apart from God is the first step into the blessed life.

“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you'” (Genesis 12:1)

From: January 5, 2014

Abram, whose name means father, was called to leave his family and go to a land that God would show him. This is the story of the man of faith, whose name became Abraham, father of nations. He trusted God’s promises before seeing their proof. He obeyed God’s call. What has God called you to do?

“For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Matthew 5:18)

From: January 5, 2013

The Jews often referred to the whole of the Hebrew Bible as the Torah (the Law), even though it was the title to the first five Mosaic books only. Here, Jesus is saying that the Word of God is more permanent, lasting, and dependable than heaven and earth themselves. Jesus had such a high view of Scripture that He said even the smallest stroke of the pen would not only be preserved but fulfilled. If Jesus has such a view of Scripture, how should we regard God’s Word?

“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor” (Matthew 5:13)

From: January 5, 2012

Jesus reminded the Jews of God’s purpose for them– to be salty in a tasteless world. Only a little salt adds flavor, heals wounds, and preserves. Jesus now calls us to be salt and light in a wounded, decaying, and dark world, showing forth His glory.