Our Lives Should Be A Witness to God

Genesis 21:22-34 provides witness to the fact that when we truly walk with God as the top priority in our lives, people notice. To honor God is not a secret thing we do in private. The Bible tells us to proclaim Jesus as lord publicly.

22 About this time, Abimelech came with Phicol, his army commander, to visit Abraham. “God is obviously with you, helping you in everything you do,” Abimelech said. 23 “Swear to me in God’s name that you will never deceive me, my children, or any of my descendants. I have been loyal to you, so now swear that you will be loyal to me and to this country where you are living as a foreigner.”

24 Abraham replied, “Yes, I swear to it!” 25 Then Abraham complained to Abimelech about a well that Abimelech’s servants had taken by force from Abraham’s servants.

26 “This is the first I’ve heard of it,” Abimelech answered. “I have no idea who is responsible. You have never complained about this before.”

27 Abraham then gave some of his sheep, goats, and cattle to Abimelech, and they made a treaty. 28 But Abraham also took seven additional female lambs and set them off by themselves. 29 Abimelech asked, “Why have you set these seven apart from the others?”

30 Abraham replied, “Please accept these seven lambs to show your agreement that I dug this well.” 31 Then he named the place Beersheba (which means “well of the oath”), because that was where they had sworn the oath.

32 After making their covenant at Beersheba, Abimelech left with Phicol, the commander of his army, and they returned home to the land of the Philistines. 33 Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba, and there he worshiped the Lord, the Eternal God.[d] 34 And Abraham lived as a foreigner in Philistine country for a long time.

This scripture also reminds us not to hate others because they may not share our faith in God. We love all God’s people, but reject their sin. Abraham was able to get along fine in a foreign land without hiding the fact that He served God.

There are exceptions where we must defend ourselves, but in this case Abraham was able to handle himself in a way that he did not have to fight. He was able to conduct business peacefully without violence and without denying or hiding his faith in God.

As Christians, we are called to love people so much that we tell them the truth of the gospel. Sometimes they respond harshly to us, but we continue because we follow the example of Christ and we want to help save whomever will accept the truth. We are not call to hate or persecute others, but we must never accept or normalize their sin as a way of making peace. Accepting and normalizing sin leads people farther and farther away from God.

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HFJ News: Keep Up With Current Events That Matter

Current Events / News

Often the common news media is immersed in worldly culture and perspective instead of Christian world view. They report more about movie stars’ latest opinions and less about Christians being executed for their faith around the world. We found a few sites with a Christian perspective.

Visit our website Current Events / News page in the Resources section of HearingFromJesus.org

If you have recommendations for additional sites or feedback on these sites, please submit them through our Contact Us page.

Thank you.

May the grace and peace of our lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Note: HFJ News posts are always supplemental and never replace our daily devotions, so please be sure to look for your daily devotion from Hearing From Jesus (HFJ) as well.

Abraham Seeks God For Family Troubles

Genesis 21:8-21 reminds us that there are real, tangible consequences of our mistakes but also shows us how God can help us through these difficulties.

Ishmael was the result of a poor choice made by Sarah and Abraham in an effort to “help God” fulfill His promise to provide generations of offspring through Abraham.

When Isaac grew up and was about to be weaned, Abraham prepared a huge feast to celebrate the occasion. But Sarah saw Ishmael—the son of Abraham and her Egyptian servant Hagar—making fun of her son, Isaac.[b] 10 So she turned to Abraham and demanded, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son. He is not going to share the inheritance with my son, Isaac. I won’t have it!”

11 This upset Abraham very much because Ishmael was his son. 12 But God told Abraham, “Do not be upset over the boy and your servant. Do whatever Sarah tells you, for Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted. 13 But I will also make a nation of the descendants of Hagar’s son because he is your son, too.”

14 So Abraham got up early the next morning, prepared food and a container of water, and strapped them on Hagar’s shoulders. Then he sent her away with their son, and she wandered aimlessly in the wilderness of Beersheba.

15 When the water was gone, she put the boy in the shade of a bush. 16 Then she went and sat down by herself about a hundred yards[c] away. “I don’t want to watch the boy die,” she said, as she burst into tears.

17 But God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, “Hagar, what’s wrong? Do not be afraid! God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Go to him and comfort him, for I will make a great nation from his descendants.”

19 Then God opened Hagar’s eyes, and she saw a well full of water. She quickly filled her water container and gave the boy a drink.

20 And God was with the boy as he grew up in the wilderness. He became a skillful archer, 21 and he settled in the wilderness of Paran. His mother arranged for him to marry a woman from the land of Egypt.

The mistake of Abraham having a child with Hagar, who was not his wife, had very tangible consequences for all involved. Sarah and Hagar developed division and bitterness toward one another. Abraham was forced to deal with division within his household that was very destructive and Ishmael was caught up in the middle of it all.

When Abraham was faced with solving this challenging problem, he turned to God. God, in His grace, gave specific guidance for resolution. We can have debate about what we would have told Abraham to do, but there is no debating that Abraham turned to God, God answered, and Abraham immediately obeyed.

God told Abraham that He would take care of Ishmael and He did. God also reached out to Hagar when she was crying out in need in order to comfort and encourage her and to fulfill His commitment to Abraham.

We should be encouraged that we can turn to God for help even in personal struggles or conflict within our family. He cares about each of us that much. However, when He provides a clear answer for how to resolve it… we should follow His instruction quickly.

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The Lord Keeps His Word

In Genesis 21:1-7 we witness God beginning to fulfill His promise to Abraham that his descendants would be countless. God did not change His mind even after Abraham and Sarah made mistakes regarding this promise. They first looked to adopting one of Abraham’s servants as heir and then to Abraham having a child through Hagar, Sarah’s maid servant. There are consequences to their mistakes, but God still fulfills His promise.

21 The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would. And Abraham named their son Isaac. Eight days after Isaac was born, Abraham circumcised him as God had commanded. Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born.

And Sarah declared, “God has brought me laughter.[a] All who hear about this will laugh with me. Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse a baby? Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age!”

Abraham and Sarah clearly found great joy in Isaac. Having a child was very important to them, especially after desiring one for so long. Sarah gave credit to God. She did not explain away the miracle as so many people today are tempted to do.

God has much grace for those of us who choose to follow Him wholeheartedly, albeit imperfectly. What a wonderful God we serve!

When you experience God’s miracles and promises in your life, give glory and honor to God. Do not explain it away as happening without God. Please share your testimonies with us or read those shared by others at the Testimonies section of www.HearingFromJesus.org.  Let your story encourage others!

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Thank God For Doing It His Way

In Matthew 11:25-30, Jesus teaches us to thank God for how He decided to do things. Jesus also highlights what can often be a confusing point for many… that no one truly knows God except those to whom He reveals Himself.

25 At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. 26 Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way!

27 “My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

All too often in prayer we come to God to ask Him to do something differently. Jesus reminds us to thank God for doing things the way it is pleasing to Him. This demonstrates a lot of trust in God, even when we do not understand why He does something a certain way.

The second point Jesus makes about God choosing to reveal Himself to some, but implying not to others is difficult to fully digest for many. Studying all of scripture we see that both God and each individual have a role in building the relationship that ultimately draws us to God and to salvation through Jesus Christ.

I believe God was purposeful in putting the first two points together in one prayer in scripture. When we struggle to understand fully why God does something a certain way, He instructs us to trust that God has reasons for doing so and it is pleasing to Him. His ways are above our ways and we are unable to fully understand His perspective.

Jesus also invites us to come to Him when we are weary from suffering and “carrying heavy burdens”. He will help us. In particular, I have experienced many of the burdens I was bearing become lighter by growing closer to Jesus Christ. The more I understand what is truly important… advancing the kingdom of Go and serving Him… the less I am burdened by earthly concerns.

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Harsh Judgment Awaits Those Who Reject Christ

Jesus speaks about the judgment of unbelievers in Matthew 11:20-24. He indicates that there are different levels of judgment in hell as He elsewhere in scripture indicates about heaven as well. He refers to the wicked people of Tire and Sidon being “better off” on judgment day than those of other cities like Korazin and Bethsaida where Jesus personally performed many of His miracles.

20 Then Jesus began to denounce the towns where he had done so many of his miracles, because they hadn’t repented of their sins and turned to God. 21 “What sorrow awaits you, Korazin and Bethsaida! For if the miracles I did in you had been done in wicked Tyre and Sidon, their people would have repented of their sins long ago, clothing themselves in burlap and throwing ashes on their heads to show their remorse. 22 I tell you, Tyre and Sidon will be better off on judgment day than you.

23 “And you people of Capernaum, will you be honored in heaven? No, you will go down to the place of the dead.[a] For if the miracles I did for you had been done in wicked Sodom, it would still be here today. 24 I tell you, even Sodom will be better off on judgment day than you.”

For those to whom He clearly reveals Himself as God, there is a higher punishment when they reject Him. Those of us who are exposed to the gospel in our country or in our churches will have no explanation other than outright rejection of God if we refuse to listen and hear Him. Judgment will be harsh.

Do not let anger or bitterness separate you from God. Do not let suffering in this world separate you from God, but rather let those things draw you closer to Him as you seek comfort and protection.

Each of us will come before God and face judgment. None of us is promised a tomorrow in which to get right with God. We must seize the moment in time that God has given us and seek Him wholeheartedly now, repenting from our sinful and selfish behaviors and choices and following Jesus.

To delay to risk living a pointless and selfish life now and eternity separated from God in hell.

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God Blesses Those Who Do Not Turn Away Because of Jesus

After preparing and sending His twelve disciples to share the good news of the gospel, Jesus also went to teach and preach in towns throughout the region. In Matthew 11:1-19 Jesus addresses some of his critics, speaks about John the Baptist, and reminds us that the prophets and law of Moses all looked forward to the coming of Jesus Christ.

11 When Jesus had finished giving these instructions to his twelve disciples, he went out to teach and preach in towns throughout the region.

John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting,[a] or should we keep looking for someone else?”

Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of me.[b]’”

As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people with expensive clothes live in palaces. Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. 10 John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say,

‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
    and he will prepare your way before you.’[c]

11 “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is! 12 And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing,[d] and violent people are attacking it. 13 For before John came, all the prophets and the law of Moses looked forward to this present time. 14 And if you are willing to accept what I say, he is Elijah, the one the prophets said would come.[e] 15 Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!

16 “To what can I compare this generation? It is like children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends,

17 ‘We played wedding songs,
    and you didn’t dance,
so we played funeral songs,
    and you didn’t mourn.’

18 For John didn’t spend his time eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man,[f] on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by its results.”

I am truly impressed by John the Baptist. He spoke out openly for God to common people and leaders alike. He did not fear retribution, or if he did, he feared and trusted God more.  Even after he is thrown in jail, he refuses to stop speaking the truth. And from jail, when he hears about Jesus’ ministry… he does not send his disciples to ask for personal help to get him out of jail but rather he is still seeking to know the Messiah.  John was focused on God instead of his own life and personal circumstances.

Jesus reminds us that all of the Old Testament is a very important part of our Christian faith when He teaches that the law of Moses and prophets were looking forward to the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry.  We should be careful to heed this and not overlook the importance of continuing to study and learn the Old Testament along with the new. It has much to reveal about God and how He relates to His people and God’s plan for salvation through Jesus.

Once again we see the healing power of Jesus Christ recorded here. John’s disciples and others who were following Jesus were witness to the healing of the blind, the lame, the deaf, lepers, and even the dead raised. Powerful miracles, with many witnesses… yet still “violent people are attacking” the kingdom of heaven as Jesus teaches the people. Many people refuse to see the truth.

Instead of recognizing Jesus as Messiah, by the evidence He provided across many miracles and instances of healing… we see that there is such pressure to reject Jesus that He even comments specifically that God blesses those who do not turn away because of Him.

Jesus then points out the foolishness of those who speak against Him and John the Baptist… like children complaining. They are inconsistent and basically say anything to persuade people to agree with them.

“John is a demon because he does not eat and drink like us.”

“Jesus is a drunkard and glutton because he feasts and drinks.” 

 Wisdom is indeed shown to be right by its results and Jesus demonstrated many miracles and signs with many witnesses and much was documented. The Bible can be trusted.

Let us heed the words of Jesus… ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of me.’ [Matthew 11:6]

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No Condemnation For Those Who Belong To Christ Jesus

Many in the world and in the body of Christ focus on God’s love and then use that as an excuse to remain in sin and choose not to repent.

“I was born this way. Since God is love, He would not make me to  be drawn to drunkenness or homosexual behavior or adultery or unrighteous anger or gossip or lying (and so on…)  and then judge me for it.”

This line of reasoning is a rationalization (a.k.a. excuse) to remain in sin. One could use this misguided rationalization to excuse any sin. That is not consistent with God’s call for us to turn from our sin, repent and seek Him wholeheartedly.

We are all born inherently sinful and must ultimately make a choice as to whether we will embrace and accept “our sin” or reject it and work to overcome it through Jesus Christ. Some are drawn more to one sin vs. another, but all sin is offensive to God.

Love is one important aspect of God’s character. His character also includes righteousness, holiness, and justice.  God is holy and righteous and calls us to be the same. There is a necessary judgment for our sin as we fall short of God’s perfect standard. But because God loves us so much, He came in the person of Jesus Christ, lived a perfect life both fully man and fully God, and then died on the cross for our sin.

All we have to do now is accept His grace, His offer of salvation… by accepting Jesus Christ as lord and savior. When we truly do this, our lives change and we become more like Him and less like the world. We turn away from our sin and change our behaviors and thoughts.

[Romans 8:1] So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

[2 Peter 3:8-10] But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.

God has given us, as followers of Jesus Christ, the task of reconciling people to Him and sharing the good news of the gospel.

[2 Corinthians 5:18-21] 18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin,[e] so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

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The Resurrection Was Real

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is foundational to the Christian faith. Jesus took our punishment for our sins upon Himself and suffered the penalty… death. We need only accept Him as Lord and ask forgiveness. When we genuinely accept Him as Lord and ask Him into our lives we change our behaviors and repent from our sins, not immediately and perfectly but repeatedly and consistently as on a long journey, always seeking to move closer to His perfect standard.

John 3:16-21

16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave[g] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.[h]

What a gracious and wonderful God we serve in Jesus Christ.

Despite the fact that the death and resurrection of Christ had many witnesses, and was well documented in and outside of the Bible, people make up many excuses to try to explain away “the empty tomb”.

I can simplify with a few key points:

  • Jesus was easily recognizable. Crowds of people lined up outside Jerusalem to meet Him and watch Him enter the city a week before He was executed. The people of the city knew who He was and what He looked like.
  • Jesus was brutally beaten and tortured to great physical harm and then publically executed where all could see. Again this was a big public event, crowds gathered and saw Him before and during the crucifixion. It lasted hours.
  • After Jesus’ body was buried in a tomb, Roman soldiers were put on guard. Roman soldiers were well trained and effective troops. The guard was ordered by Pilate himself and thus the guards would have taken the job seriously.
  • The tomb was undeniably found empty. Even the great majority of educated skeptics who have studied historical records cannot deny the empty tomb. To deny Christ, they have to make up wild theories to explain it.
  • Jesus was witnessed by many after He rose from the dead. He moved about freely, not limited by any injury from those that caused His death. He remained among His disciples and followers for 40 days giving many proofs that He was alive.
  • His true followers (excluding Judas, who betrayed Him) went to their deaths (or in John’s case, exile to small island) without ever denying the truth of Jesus Christ as Lord and God. The men closest to Jesus and the events surrounding His death and resurrection were willing to suffer and die for Him when simply denying Him in words would have saved their lives.  They were convinced. They profited nothing in the eyes of the world for staying true to Jesus Christ and gave up all.

I recommend The Third Day, by Hank Hanegraaff as a thorough, easily digestible, and even short book (less than 100 pages and the pages are small) to read to help put in perspective the reality of the resurrection and the foolishness of the myths and lies that people make up to reject it. (This is strictly a personal recommendation as I found this book helpful for me.)

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Evil Is Praised Throughout The Land

I often hear that the world is worse than it has ever been before and is degrading to new levels of wickedness and rejection of God. Though many parts of the world clearly reject God and do indeed to be in a period of decline and shift further away from Him, scripture reminds us that the world has always been full of wicked people.

Consider Genesis 6:5-9,

The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. And the Lord said, “I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing—all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them.” But Noah found favor with the Lord.

This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.

Those who are godly have had cycles where there was revival and then periods of decline to what is essentially a righteous remnant throughout history. Psalm 12 reminds us of another time where those who follow God were grieved by the wickedness of those around them.

Help, O Lord, for the godly are fast disappearing!
    The faithful have vanished from the earth!
Neighbors lie to each other,
    speaking with flattering lips and deceitful hearts.
May the Lord cut off their flattering lips
    and silence their boastful tongues.
They say, “We will lie to our hearts’ content.
    Our lips are our own—who can stop us?”

The Lord replies, “I have seen violence done to the helpless,
    and I have heard the groans of the poor.
Now I will rise up to rescue them,
    as they have longed for me to do.”
The Lord’s promises are pure,
    like silver refined in a furnace,
    purified seven times over.
Therefore, Lord, we know you will protect the oppressed,
    preserving them forever from this lying generation,
even though the wicked strut about,
    and evil is praised throughout the land.

As I read Psalm 12, my first reaction is that it may as well have been written about today in the United States of America. Evil is praised throughout the land and the wicked strut about. Every kind of sin and wickedness is tolerated or even praised, but Christians are called intolerant and pressured to be silent. I always find it ironic that those who say Christians should be tolerant of every kind of sin also refuse to tolerate our faith.

I find great comfort in God’s word and it reminds me that God is in control. I pray that true Christians around the world would rise up for their faith and live their lives like they truly serve God rather than blending in with the world. This includes electing godly leaders to political office to stop evil and work for good. When real Christians stand up for what God teaches, we will find revival and reinvigorate the body of Christ and then draw in those who may receive the good news of the gospel.

We must not be afraid to speak the truth, even when it brings controversy. We must instead follow the example of Jesus who spoke directly against sinful and wrong behavior and called people to change… to repent. If the godly are silent, evil prevails.

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