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Friday, January 19, 2018

# 142 The Connection Between Circumcision and Baptism

The Book of Genesis Day 142 \ Ge 17:11 "and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. 12 "He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant. 13 "He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 "And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant." Required by God and performed by men. This circumcision was required in order to be in a covenanted relationship with God and it must be accompanied by faith. (A circumcised heart) Wait a minute! How is it possible for an 8 day old infant to have faith? First of all, we must understand that it is God who grants faith. (See Eph 2:8,9) It is worked in the heart and it is something only God sees with certainty. If it’s there, He knows it! If it’s not there, He knows that too. Faith is not a matter of our intellect, it is a matter of the unseen heart! God is able to impart saving faith in circumcision to an 8 day old infant (in the Old Testament) and in infant baptism in the New! That’s why David was able to say in Ps 22:9,10 “But You are He who took Me out of the womb; You made Me trust while on My mother's breasts. 10 I was cast upon You from birth. From My mother's womb You have been My God.” Yes! A nursing child can have saving faith! I think it is interesting that circumcision was accomplished by “flint knives” (See Josh 5:3) and Jesus said in Mt 3:9 "I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.” ( Could this be a veiled reference to the flint knives used in circumcision? The point is, God is able! And in Ac 2:38, 39 we read, “ Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 "For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call." “The promise is to you and your CHILDREN.” God is able! In Col 2:11,12 Baptism is compared to circumcision! Col 2:11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. One has to wonder if an 8 day old infant was brought into the faith covenant in the Old Testament, why not an 8 day old infant in the New Testament through “the circumcision of Christ?” (Baptism!) In fact, personally, I wish more people would consider baptizing their infants on the 8th day, but that’s a subject for another time! Circumcision mattered for an 8 day old infant in the Old Testament, and baptism matters in the New. But never forget baptism must be coupled with God-given faith! Mr 16:16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. Pray: Father, let us use this devotional thought today to remind ourselves again that You are able!” You were able to save in circumcision; You are able to save in baptism.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

# 141 The Sign and Seal of Circumcision

The Book of Genesis Day 141 Ge 17:10 "This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; 11 "and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. 12 "He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant. Circumcision. So painful. So fitting! The circumcised Hebrew would be reminded daily from the eighth day of his birth that God was going to send a human Messiah born of woman through the descendants of Abraham. The promise made to Eve would come to pass through God’s covenanted people. Every sexual act of a man would serve as a reminder to him that God was working to restore creation and redeem all people. Even the shedding of blood which accompanied a circumcision would serve as a reminder of the cost of God’s redemption. I’m not so sure men were always thinking these things, and that’s rather obvious as we read of the exploits of these men in the Old Testament, nonetheless, circumcision was not only a covenant but a sign. A sign that would point to the arrival of Christ, and a seal that would mark the circumcised child from the eight day as a covenanted child of God! As wonderful as this sign and seal were, it would avail nothing should the circumcised person cease to “walk before God!” Faith had to accompany circumcision or it had no power to save. Unfortunately, many of the people relied solely on the mark of the covenant instead of the covenant itself. John the Baptist warned against such an attitude when he told the circumcised Pharisees IN Mt 3:8-10, "Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, 9 "and do not think to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.” In other words, “Don’t think that your circumcision as an eight day old child is going to save you! God is able to raise up children of faith from stones! It’s the circumcision of the heart that must accompany the circumcision of the flesh! This circumcision of the heart is accomplished by God, who grants the gift of repentance and faith! De 30:6 says, "And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” God commanded the physical act of circumcision in the Old Testament, but He is looking for the inward reality of a circumcised heart! A heart that is “cut off” from every desire, except to walk before God, to love and serve Him alone! If He is able to do that to a stone, He is able to do it to your hardened heart as well. Of course, circumcision has been replaced with baptism in the New Testament, but as in circumcision, faith must accompany baptism or you are lost! Mr 16:16 says, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. Pray: Lord, I pray especially for those today, who are relying on their baptism alone for salvation. Remind them of the necessary requirement to believe! Help them to receive the gift of repentance and a re-ignited faith.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

# 140 A Painful Pun

The Book of Genesis Day 140 Ge 17:9-11, “And God said to Abraham: "As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. 10 "This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; 11 "and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. Now we get to the “as for you,” part of the covenant. God has already told Abraham what His part of the covenant will be, now He has something He wants Abraham and his descendants to do. Abraham, and every male child shall be circumcised. Circumcised? What is that? Abraham knew very well what that meant because it was already in practice in the culture in which he lived. Non-Jews practiced it as a puberty rite at about the age of 13. Ouch! The word “circumcise,” means to “cut off.” That is very significant as we relate the act of circumcision to God’s Covenant. Let’s jump ahead to verse 14. “And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be “cut off,” from his people; he has broken My covenant.” At first glance, this seems like some sort of a bad, painful pun, but it’s not! It’s a vital part of the covenant process! By obeying God’s command to be circumcised, Abraham was saying to God, ”We believe that You will do what You have said You will do in this rite. May we be cut off from You just as these foreskins have been cut off from us, if we don’t remain in the faith. As we have been saying all along, Abraham and his descendants must walk before God (be rightly related to Him through faith) in order to be blameless in His sight. Circumcision was meant to be an earthly picture of a heavenly reality! It is a graphic portrayal of the fate of those who refuse to walk before God. They will be cut off! Pray: Thank You Lord for painting these pictures for us in Your Word. Let us realize the finality of being cut off from You should we not endure in the faith.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

# 139 An Everlasting Deal

The Book of Genesis Day 139 Ge 17:5 "No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 "I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. 7 "And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. 8 "Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God." The change of names is complete. Abram (exalted father) becomes “Abraham” (father of many) Please note that God says, “I have made!” In other words, it’s a done deal. 99 years old, yet God says, “What I have said about you fathering a child with Sarai is so certain, that you will henceforth be known as “the father of many nations! Perhaps you’ve seen the bumper sticker, “God said it, that settles it.” Well that’s what we’ve got going on here. Abraham believed it and it was accounted to him as righteousness! Fast forward to Re 7:9,10, and see the culmination of this promise! “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" These are all the children of Abraham. They are the children of faith! God’s covenant would include the giving of the Promised Land to Abraham’s descendants as an everlasting possession and God also promises to be their everlasting God! Everlasting, is a long time, but that’s how long God is willing to extend the offer. It is good to all who “walk before Him,” (that is, those who are rightly related to Him through the same kind of faith that Abraham held to. Anyone who refuses the offer, will be cast out. That’s the covenant! And if you don’t think He is serious about it, just ask the Israelites who refused to walk before Him . They were cast out of the Promised Land because they broke their part of the deal. And so it will be for you and I if we refuse to “walk before God!” God’s offer stands until time as we know it passes away, but if we refuse it, and walk in our own ways, our voices will be missing from that heavenly chorus that John wrote about in the Book of Revelation! Therefore, walk before God! Pray: Lord, Again we thank You for Your patience and Your everlasting offer to us. By the power of the Holy Spirit, help us to ever walk before You, believing Your Word!

Monday, January 15, 2018

# 138 Naming Rights

The Book of Genesis Day 138 Ge 17:5 "No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. Finally, we can start calling Abram, Abraham! This is a very significant moment in the relationship between God and Abraham. You may recall how early on in the Book of Genesis, we discussed the importance of giving names. In ancient times, name givers demonstrated dominion over what was being named! God of course needs no such vehicle to prove His dominion, but He also knew it would be a vehicle that the ancient world would understand, and so He uses it in Holy Writ often. From the very beginning, when God called light, day, and darkness, night, to Adam naming the animals, and naming his wife Eve, to the naming of their children, we see this principle of the connection between dominion and naming in play!There is more! Later, God tells Abraham to change Sarai’s name to Sarah! (Ge 17:15) Then God said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. Please note the chain of command here! God, with dominion over Abraham, Abraham with dominion over Sarah, but God with dominion over both! Some other examples in Scripture: The rebel Jacob wrestles with God, and after acknowledging God as Lord, God changes Jacob’s name to Israel! Pharaoh renames Joseph in Gen 41:45, “And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphnath-Paaneah” Why was he allowed to do that? Because he had dominion over him! The chief official of Nebuchadnezzar renames Daniel and his three companions in Da 1:7 “To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.” Again, indicating dominion over them. Even in New Testament times, we read of Simon Bar Jonah, who upon confession of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, was renamed Peter by Jesus! Mt 16:17 “Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Abraham’s name change was significant because he was about to become the father of a nation that will experience the personal dominion of God Almighty. Peter’s name was just as significant for the same reason. His confession of Jesus as Lord becomes the basis for the personal dominion of Jesus Christ in all who are believers. Why is this important for us today? It’s important because name changes matter! They are meant to reflect dominion in God’s created order! When my wife took on my last name on our wedding day, she was reflecting the transfer of her father’s dominion over her to me. This is all part of the very important aspect of “leaving and cleaving” in a marriage. It seems like a small matter, but anytime we can reflect the relationship between Jesus and His bride (the church) and His lordship (dominion) over us, we ought to seize it, especially in the matter of marriage, because that is its primary purpose! In marriage we are to reflect the relationship we have with Jesus via our relationship with our spouse! It seems the world needs to see a little more of that reflection from the church today! Pray: Lord, help us to understand the importance of names and Your created order, then help us to live it out in grace and mercy, always seeking to do Your will!

Friday, January 12, 2018

# 137 The Narrow Way

The Book of Genesis Day 137 Ge 17:4 "As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. God covenant was personal with Abram and his descendants, and there is no other way to have fellowship with God except though the provisions set forth in this covenant. Only those who believe God will have it accounted as righteousness and be counted among the “spiritual” descendants of Abram!It is true that God’s will is for all to be saved, but it is also true that it is God’s will that they be saved in this manner….namely by faith! Just believing in God or a Supreme Being is not enough (Even the demons believe….and tremble! James 2:19) Remember, God didn’t say Abram believed IN God and it was accounted to him as righteousness, He said Abram BELIEVED God, and there is a huge difference! To believe God is to hold all His Word as true. Everything He says about Himself as Lord and Savior must be believed and trusted with childlike faith. With this stipulation, one can easily see that to believe in God in such a manner requires a faith that can only be given by the grace of God! Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. Just going to church, just being a nice person is not good enough! Mt 5:48 says, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” That perfection only comes through the imputed righteousness of Christ which comes through faith in what God says in His Word.God’s way is narrow! Jesus said in Jn 14:6, “I am the way , the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” “Enter by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult and the way which leads to life and there are few who find it. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves!” (Mt 7:13-15) These false prophets will try to broaden the road for you, they will attempt to bypass the gate of God’s prescribed way to salvation. Don’t listen to them! Believing IN God is not enough, we must, like Abram, BELIEVE God. But why is the Way to heaven so difficult? It’s difficult because our flesh wants to add something to the salvation equation! We want our eternal grade to be based on our opinion of ourselves rather than God’s opinion of us! (All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God!) We want a God who allows for us to determine the path, rather than His unchanging truth! Quite frankly, it’s difficult because it is too simple. It’s so simple, and almost too good to be true! God said that Jesus died for my sins, and that through trust in Him and baptism I am regarded as sinless and fit for heaven? Mr 16:16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. You gotta be kidding me! No I’m not! By grace, you have at this very moment found your way to the narrow gate. Here is your opportunity to cast aside all other notions you may have about obtaining eternal life. Let go of any and all other false doctrines you have been clinging to, and trust in God’s Word alone! Trust in what He says about Jesus! He is your Savior and Lord, acknowledge Him as such and be saved! Pray: Lord, I have made this all so complicated, grant to me the faith of Abram! Help me to believe You and what You say about me and salvation. Throw open the door of my heart to Jesus as Lord and Savior today!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

# 136 As Many As Have the Faith of Abram

The Book of Genesis Day 136 Ge 17:4 "As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. This little verse, tucked away in the 17th chapter of Genesis, is a very important verse for Jew and Gentile alike, (it is God’s promise of salvation for “as many as the Lord our God will call.” Ac 2:39) The use of the word “behold” is always important in Scripture, because it reminds us to slow down and take in what is being said! God is speaking about what He is going to do in this covenant with Abram and He wants Abram to look at the fine print! First of all note the personal nature of the covenant. It is with Abram and nobody else. Such is God’s covenant with you! You and I , you don’t get to ride on the coattails of others. This treaty or pact of friendship is with Abram here and nobody else! It is exclusive, but in its exclusivity, we also find the clause that it is extended to Abram’s descendant’s forever as long as they hold up their part of the deal, and their part, (your part and my part) is to continue in the faith of Abram. This is spoken of in Ro 4:11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, (the father of many nations including Gentiles!) He continues: “though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.” In other words, this covenant of God being a Father and we being His children, this covenant of Him being our Monarch and we being His subjects, this covenant of a personal relationship with Him, this covenant of forgiving our sins and being blameless in His sight is available to all who walk in the steps of the faith of Abram BEFORE he was circumcised! The faith is simply what has been stated in Gen 15:6, “Abram believed God and it was accounted to Him as righteousness.” This same covenant is restated in Joh 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Believe this passage from Jn 3:16 and God’s covenant becomes personal to you, and it will be accounted to you as righteousness. Pray: Father, thank You for the gift of faith!