One Year Bible Reading Plan and Devotional
Today’s Bible Reading: January 6
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Live in My presence and be blameless
God’s Promise: A Father of Many Nations
God promised Abraham to make him a father of many nations but as Abraham and Sarah grew older, they decide that God might need a little help in keeping the promise and Sarah gives her maid Hagar to Abraham as a wife so she can bare him a son…and she does. However, God makes it clear that this child is not the child of the promise. In Chapter 17 of Genesis, God renews His covenant with Abraham. First He identifies Himself as the Almighty God who is all-sufficient to do as He promised. God says to Abraham: “I am God Almighty. Live in my presence and be blameless.”
Live in My Presence
Have you ever thought about what it would be to walk before God? All the biblical imagery about drawing near to God or departing from God or being before the face of God — which is, by the way, the literal translation of presence. The word presence is almost always translating the Hebrew paneh or panim and it means face.
There is nothing we can hide from God, even if we were to walk behind Him. But to walk before Him means living our life in the full attention and sight of God. Walking before God means living every moment in the presence of God. It is walking in fellowship with Him. Living life in obedience to Him. It is walking by faith and not by sight. It means living in such as way that there is nothing to hide.
Who Can Live in God’s Presence?
If someone were to ask you, “Who can live in God’s Presence?” your most immediate response would naturally be those who have asked Jesus to save them from their sins – the Christians. You might also respond with the angels in Heaven, or Jesus and the Holy Spirit. You might include those who died and now live in heaven. But since we are still on this side of heaven, what does it mean for us?
All are sinners and unworthy of living in God’s Presence
We know the Bible tells us all are sinners. Hebrews 12:14 says that without holiness no one will see the Lord. Romans 3:10 says, “There is no one righteous, not even one. Romans 3:11 tells us there is no one who understand, no one who seeks God. And Romans 3:12 says that all have turned away, they together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. James 2:10 says, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilt of breaking all of it.” And Romans 3:34 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
We know that God cannot dwell with sin. Because He is holy, He cannot dwell with unholiness. No one can live with him.
Only One is Worthy of living in God’s Presence
The only one who is worthy of living in God’s presence is Jesus. Hebrews 7:26 tells us that Jesus Christ is one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. In Revelation 5, John writes:
“Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.
Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne. He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals”Revelation 5:1-9
How are we made worthy of living in God’s Presence?
The four living creatures and the twenty-four elder’s new song continued saying, “because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.
As a child of God, Jesus died for you and He covers you with His blood and paid the price for your sins. It is His shed blood that makes it possible for us to live in the presence of God. Ephesians 2:6-7 says, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
Because of the great price Jesus paid for our sins, we should be people who imitate him and take on His characteristics. Ephesians 5:1 says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” 1 Peter 2:21 says that Jesus is our example and we are to walk in his steps. And Philippians 2:5 says we are to have the mind of Christ.
Six Characteristics of a Person who Lives in the Presence of God
In Psalm 15, we can find six characteristics of Jesus that we are to imitate:
O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
2 He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
and speaks truth in his heart;
3 who does not slander with his tongue
and does no evil to his neighbor,
nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
4 in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
but who honors those who fear the Lord;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
5 who does not put out his money at interest
and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.
1. Walks blameless and does what is right
While the Bible says all of us are sinners, it also tells us that Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. When God called Abram, he said, I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. In the book of Job God said that Job was blameless and upright. And indeed, God has required this quality of all his people, saying You must be blameless before the Lord your God. But if we are all sinners, how can any of us be blameless before God?
Blameless refers to a person without blemish He is guiltless and without reproach. Jesus is the only man who ever lived that was truly blameless, without blemish, guiltless and without reproach. (Hebrews 7:26) The only way we can be without blemish, guiltless and without reproach, is through the blood of Jesus that paid the price for our sins. On our own, none of us have the hope of being blameless. But when we place our faith and trust in Jesus, his blood cleanses us from all sin making us justified before God. To be justified means that God sees us “just as if I never sinned.”
In Psalm 26, David says, “Vindicate me, Lord, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered. Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness. If God tested and tried you, would he find you blameless? Would He say you have trusted in Him and not faltered? Would He say that you have always been mindful of His unfailing love towards you and that you have lived your life relying on God’s faithfulness towards you?
2. Loves Truth
One of Satan’s most often used tactics is lies. Jesus said in John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Liars belong to the devil.
But in John 8:32, Jesus says that we can “know the truth and the truth will set us free.” In Psalm 51:6, we find that God delights in truth. And John 1:15 tells us that Jesus was full of grace and truth. In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way the truth, and the life. No one comes to father, but by Me.” Jesus is the truth. Titus 1:2 says God cannot lie. He cannot lie, so He is truth. To love truth is to love God.
To love truth is to also be truthful. Ephesians 4:15 says, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” And then in verse 25, it says, “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” One cannot love truth, but speak lies. The person who lives in the presence of God will say only what he knows to be true. He does not bear tales, or gossip about others. How many of us have avoided the truth because it might hurt or it might cost us something? To love truth is to be truthful, even when it costs you something.
3. Loves Others
While Jesus walked this earth, he demonstrated His great love of us. In Acts 10:38, Paul wrote that Jesus “went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil.” Even as the Jews yelled for his crucifixion, Jesus did not slander or cast slurs on his fellowman. He loved them. That’s why he came to this earth. Because of His love for us. It was His love for us that sent Him to the cross to pay our sin debt for us.
Jesus said in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” Every person is a unique creation of God, created in His image and we are to love everyone. David expresses the idea of loving others by saying he “does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend.” So the person who lives in the presence of God demonstrates their love for others by not slandering, backbiting or casting slurs on them. They do no gossip or spread rumors. Nor do they participate in name calling. And they do not flatter others to their face and then stab them in the back.
4. Honors Righteousness
In the next verse, it can almost seem like David is contradicting himself. He just said that he did not slander others or do them evil. Now he says he despises the vile person, but honors those who fear the Lord. While he is a man who loves others, he still disapproves of those who are not true through and through, especially those who treat God and His ways lightly, but honors those who truly fear God, and whose lives reveal the fact. ‘Despised’ is not to be taken in its literal meaning. It rather indicates disapproval, not so much of the person, as of the person’s way of life and attitude towards God. He does not hate sinners but his close friends are those who fear the Lord.
We see this is true in the live of Jesus. His close friends were the disciples. In his dealing with the woman caught in adultery, Jesus did not honor her for her sins but he loved her and he told her, Go now and leave your life of sin. Whenever we encounter people living in sin, we can despise their sin, but we also need to give them answer of how to leave their life of sin – and the answer is in the grace and forgiving power of Jesus who loves them as much as he loves you.
5. Values Commitment
David says the person who lives in God’s presence is one “who swears to his own hurt and does not change.’ There was a time in the last century when the word of a gentleman was his bond. Nothing would cause him to break it. That is what the godly man who approaches God must be like. Even if he regrets what he has sworn or what he has promised, he must fulfil it. He has given his word.
Thankfully, for us, Jesus kept His word to His Father. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, “Not my will but yours be done.” He kept his oath even when it hurt – all the way to the cross. Jesus gave all he had. He had no where to lay his head, he had no money saved away, he gave his life for us and what does he expect in return? Jesus said to his twelve disciples, Freely you have received, freely give
6. Values People
Lastly, David says that the person who lives in the presence of God, “does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent.” The reference to not charging interest was because in an agricultural society man who borrowed did so because of dire poverty. No good man would therefore seek to benefit by such a person’s poverty and dire need. He would lend from the goodness of his heart because he values people as God’s creation. To aid the condemnation of an innocent person would be abhorrent to God, and therefore, to David, so he does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
No where in the Bible will find where Jesus accepted money for his help. Nor did he pay off anyone to stop Judas from betraying Him. Neither did he pay off the Roman governor that issued the death sentence against Him. Why? Because Jesus values people. People is what brought him to earth. People is why he gave his life for us.
Was Abraham perfect?
When God told Abraham to be perfect, He was telling Abraham to be an upright, sincere person in heart, in his words, and in his actions and behaviors. Abraham was not sinless. We see this when he informed kings that his wife was his sister so they wouldn’t kill him to be able to have Sarah for themselves. There has never been, nor will there ever be, a perfect person other than Jesus Christ.
The Hebrew word used for “perfect” is tamin. It is the same word used to describe Noah in Genesis 6:9. The root meaning of the word is whole, integrated, as one exerts all their energy into one pursuit – in Abraham’s case, that pursuit was to live righteously and blameless before God. He was to be “all-in” to God’s plan. Completely dedicated to His cause. He was not free to live like the Canaanites. He couldn’t absorb himself into their culture. Abraham was to remain separated, set apart, holy. There would be no room for half-hearted service to God. It was all or nothing.
Called to be set apart and to Live in His Presence
God still calls us, His children, to be set apart and different from the rest of the world. We are called to live in God’s presence. We are to be fully committed to living for Him and fully willing to do whatever He asks of us. Just as God told Abraham, so He tells us today, “I am the Almighty God; live in my presence and be blameless.”
#ReadYourBible #Genesis #Matthew
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