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“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 (Read Genesis 1)

The opening words of the Bible, those found in Genesis 1:1, proclaim a foundational truth upon which all of Christianity rests: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

If these words are not true, then the rest of the Bible’s claims about man’s accountability to God, God’s impending judgment upon man’s sin, Christ’s redemption, God’s forgiveness and eternal life with Him in heaven are all meaningless.

Those who reject the Bible’s teaching regarding God’s creation have rejected all that the Bible teaches because it is all interwoven and a part of the same truth. Those who do not believe in the God who was there in the beginning and who created the heavens and the earth and everything in them cannot legitimately lay claim to be followers of Christ or to be Christian.

In the same way as the work of an artist testifies to the existence and skill of the artist, so the existence and wondrous design of all things testify to the existence and infinite wisdom of an almighty God who created all.

The Bible itself declares, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night declares knowledge. There is no speech and there are no words; their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” (Psalm 19:1-4).

Everywhere in this world, regardless of race or language, the testimony of all creation, without words or speech, cries out and announces to everyone that there is an all-wise, all-powerful God who created all. The majesty, grandeur, and the very intricacy of all around us say loudly and clearly for all to hear, “There is a God!”

This same God has revealed Himself to all of mankind in His Word, the Bible. From the very first of the Scriptures, we see that God already was in the beginning when He created the heavens and the earth. We see that not only the Father, but the Spirit was in the beginning; for He “was moving over the surface of the water” (Genesis 1:2). The apostle John writes of Jesus, God the Son, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were created through Him, and without Him nothing was created that was created” (John 1:1-3).

The one true God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – was there in the beginning and created all things. This same eternal God provided for the salvation of all mankind when the Son became man and paid the due price for our sin by suffering and dying on the cross and rising again from the dead on the third day. He will be when this world comes to a close, and He will be our judge.

Those who believe in His name, trusting in Him for forgiveness and life everlasting, will be saved; but those who do not trust in Him stand condemned already for not believing in the name of God the Son, their Redeemer and Savior (cf. John 3:13-18, 36).

O almighty and eternal God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, thank You for revealing Your majesty to us through your glorious creation and for revealing Yourself and the salvation You have provided for us through Your Word, the Bible. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

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“You shall not steal.” Exodus 20:15

With this commandment, the LORD God forbids us to take or desire that which rightfully belongs to another. Thus, we are not to rob, steal or take the property of another by any dishonest means, including fraud, deception, unjust lawsuits, gambling, unrighteous labor or wages, unfair pricing, and the like. Instead of seeking dishonest gain, God urges us to work and earn our own property and goods and to share with those in need.

The Bible teaches: “Let him who steals steal no more. Instead, let him labor, working with his hands things which are good, that he may have something to share with him who is in need” (Eph. 4:28). God also tells us: “You shall do no unrighteousness in judgment regarding measures in length, weight, or quantity. You shall have honest balances, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt” (Lev. 19:35-36).

Psalm 37:21 says: “The wicked borrows and does not repay, but the righteous is gracious and gives.” Jeremiah 22:13 warns: “Woe to him who builds his house with unrighteousness and his chambers with injustice, who uses his neighbor’s services without wages, and gives him nothing for his work …”

Expressing these same principles, Leviticus 19:13 says, “You shall not defraud your neighbor or rob him. The wages of him who is hired shall not stay with you all night until the morning” (cf. Deut. 24:14-15). God even warns against taking advantage of the poor and lending for personal gain when He says: “ If you lend money to any of My people who is poor among you, do not be a creditor to him, and do not charge him interest” (Ex. 22:25).

God also forbids us to be lazy and dependent upon the charity of others when His Word commands: “If any will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thess. 3:10).

What does God require of us when He forbids us to steal? He would have us love our neighbor and do all in our power to help him protect and keep his property and business.

We see this from the principle established by this command: “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall surely return it to him” (Ex. 23:4). While it may not be an ox or a donkey, we are to return to our neighbor property which he has lost and help him to keep what God has given him.

Jesus Himself says: “Everything you would like men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12). The Scriptures require us to treat our neighbor in the same way we would want to be treated. Thus, instead of taking away our neighbor’s property and business, we should help and be of service to him in keeping it.

Finally, instead of seeking to obtain the property of others for ourselves, God would have us share what He has given us and help others in their need.

The Bible says, “But do not forget to do good and to share. For with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Heb. 13:16).

Have we kept this commandment as the LORD God requires? Again, we must admit our shortcomings and sins and repent, pleading with the LORD God to deal with us in His grace and mercy for Jesus’ sake and imploring His help and strength to amend our ways and live for Him!

In Jesus, and for the sake of His blood shed for us on the cross, we find forgiveness.

The Bible tells us: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. … If anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 1:8-9; 2:1-2).

Dear Lord Jesus, for the sake of Your atoning sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world, forgive me for my selfishness and greed. Forgive me for not loving and caring for others in need. Cleanse my heart and renew my mind that I might live for You and seek to keep Your holy commandments. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

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“Be not deceived. God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” Galatians 6:7-8

Any gardener or farmer knows the truthfulness of the words: “Whatever a man sows, that will he also reap.” One cannot plant thorns and thistles and expect to reap good fruits and vegetables – it just doesn’t work that way. What you sow is what you will also reap.

In fact, it is also true that the thorns and thistles don’t need much help in taking over a garden plot. If they are not constantly pulled or hoed out, they will quickly spread and choke out the good seed planted there.

This is also true of our spiritual lives. Though many think they can live as they please, read what they want to read, watch what they want to watch, spend time doing those things which gratify their sinful human natures and still live and grow spiritually, it just isn’t true.

The Apostle Paul warned his readers: “Be not deceived. God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”

Though it is the Spirit of God who brings us to faith and keeps us trusting in Christ Jesus as our Savior, God will not be mocked. We cannot sow to the sinful longings of our flesh and expect to continue in the faith and go to heaven. We will reap what we sow – spiritual corruption and death and, finally, eternal damnation.

On the other hand, when we sow to the Spirit of God by continuing in His Word and partaking of Christ’s Supper, He will use what is sown to nurture and strengthen our faith in Christ Jesus and preserve us in the true faith unto life everlasting. The Spirit of God will give and assure to us forgiveness for all our sins and eternal life for the sake of the innocent sufferings and death of Christ Jesus, our Savior.

Don’t sow to the flesh, but sow to the Spirit and reap the results – life everlasting through faith in your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Forgive me, O Lord, for the times I have sowed to the flesh. Move me to sow to the Spirit by continuing in the Word, that You might strengthen and preserve me in the true and saving faith unto life everlasting. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

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“Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:14

While we might commonly think of adultery only in the narrowest sense of being unfaithful to the marriage vow by engaging in a sexual relationship outside of marriage, this commandment of the LORD God really applies to all perversions of – all adulterating of – God’s original design and intent for the marriage relationship described for us in Genesis 2:18-25, in which God created woman from man, brought her to the man and instituted and established the lifelong union of marriage between one man and one woman.

Thus, a person commits adultery when he or she is unfaithful to the marriage vow and has a sexual relationship outside of marriage; but a person also commits adultery through divorce, evil thoughts, pornography, fornication, sexual immorality, homosexuality, and any other sexual perversion (cf. Lev. 18). Even a refusal to fulfill one’s duties in marriage is contrary to God’s intent and design for marriage (cf. 1 Cor. 7:1ff.; Eph. 5:22ff.). And, whatever is not in accord with God’s intent and design at creation – the lifelong commitment and union of a man and a woman in marriage – is adultery.

This is why Jesus said, “Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matt. 5:28). He also says, “Whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery” (Matt. 5:32; cf. Mark 10:11-12; Matt. 19:3ff.). And, the Bible clearly teaches: “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4).

When we consider this commandment, we again see our sins and failures to live up to God’s holy intent and design in creation. In fact, our whole culture is in rebellion against God’s will and design for marriage between one man and one woman and a sexual union only within marriage; and we, as individuals, have also disobeyed and rebelled in our thoughts, desires, words and actions.

Our only hope is in Christ Jesus, who kept this commandment perfectly in our stead and then bore our full punishment and won our pardon and release when He suffered and died on the cross for the sins of the world and rose again on the third day.

He calls upon us all to repent of our evil ways and turn to Him in faith for mercy, forgiveness and life everlasting (cf. Acts 3:19). Only in Him and His blood shed for us on the cross can we sinners find pardon and peace (Cf. 1 John 1:8 – 2:2)!

O dearest Jesus, forgive me for my sins in thought, word and deed. Change my heart to be like Your heart. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)” John 7:37-39

We think little of the importance and need for water. We just turn on the faucet and water flows. It wasn’t so in the Bible days and especially in the arid regions of the Middle East. Water was a precious commodity, and obtaining all the water needed was a continual task and concern.

Think of the Israelites in the wilderness (Exodus 17). They had no water to drink and thirsted. They complained against Moses, accusing him of bringing them out into the wilderness to die of thirst. And God commanded Moses to strike the rock with his rod, and water gushed forth, meeting the needs of God’s people. And the Bible tells us that God provided water for the people from the rock on more than one occasion (cf. Num. 20:8ff.; Deut. 8:15).

Now, it was the feast of tabernacles, the last day of that great feast in which the people dwelt in tabernacles to remind them of their living in tents in the wilderness for 40 years. On each day of the feast, the priests drew out a vessel of water from the Pool of Siloam and the people sang psalms as they returned to the temple to pour out the water into a basin there on the side of the altar – a reminder that God had given them water from the rock in the wilderness.

Then, on the last day of the feast, Jesus cried out in the temple, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”

That rock in the wilderness pointed to Christ Jesus. As God satisfied the thirst of His people in the wilderness with water from the rock, so Christ offers to meet the spiritual thirst of God’s people — their greatest need — with living water, water which continues to flow and meet all our needs and to quench the thirst of those around us as we point them to Christ, the Lamb of God who has taken away the sin of the world by his sacrifice upon the cross (John 1:29).

As Jesus offered living water to the woman at the well in Samaria (John 4:10,13-14), so here He offers it to all who had come to the temple in search of God’s mercy and blessing. And, He offers it to you and to me, as well!

How does Jesus quench our thirst? He offers and gives us pardon and forgiveness for all our sins when we come to Him in faith, trusting that He indeed is God’s Son and our Savior and that He has satisfied the demands of God’s law for us and suffered the full and just punishment for all our sins (cf. Eph. 1:6-9; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; Rom. 3:21-26).

And, as John explained, when we trust in Jesus, He gives to us His Holy Spirit, who continually works through God’s Word and Sacraments to keep us in the true and saving faith. He convicts us of our sinfulness with God’s Law and comforts us with God’s pardon and forgiveness through the message of the Gospel, the good news of His mercy and forgiveness in Christ Jesus (cf. Isa. 55:1ff.; 12:1ff.; Matt. 11:28ff.; Acts 2:36-39; Phil. 1:6).

We are living in a spiritual wilderness. True spiritual water is scarce – we can’t find it on our own. But God has provided it for us in His Son – the Rock which follows us in this wilderness of sin and death (cf. 1 Cor. 10:4; Psalm 36:9). And in Jesus, our thirst is quenched. Our greatest need – forgiveness of sins and fellowship with God our Maker – is met. And when we come to Jesus in faith, which is in itself of the gracious working of God (cf. Eph. 2:8-9; Col. 1:12; John 6:44,63), the Holy Spirit will be given to us and our spiritual thirst will be continually quenched as He sanctifies and keeps us in the true faith in Christ Jesus, our Savior (Rev. 22:17)!

We come to You, O Jesus, to quench our thirsting souls. Forgive our sins and keep us within Your flock and fold. And grant to us Your Spirit, and may the rivers flow, that others, too, may hear us, their Savior come to know. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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