Posts

All devotions are written by our Founding Pastor Bill Elliff. More blogs and books from Bill at billelliff.com.

Genesis 16-17 | God Hears

“And you shall call his name Ishmael (God hears), because the LORD has heard your affliction.” ( Genesis 17 ) The history of Ishmael’s birth is a soapbox drama. Abram and Sarai had not had a child and were past childbearing. Sarai devises an “alternate plan” to give her handmaid, Hagar, to Abram to bear a child.   When the child was born, Sarai became furiously jealous and began to treat Hagar harshly. So Hagar fled into the wilderness. It is there the “angel of the LORD” (which was Jesus Christ Himself) appeared to her and gave her a promise that it was alright and that God would use her son to build a nation also.   She cried out to God (which is called “prayer”) and God heard and answered her prayer. We have no record of her spoken prayer, but merely the heart cry of her affliction.   THE ENGAGEMENT OF GOD God made us and loves His creation. When we are in distress, in our sinfulness we turn to ourselves or others as the solution to our problem, with disastrous results.   But when,

Genesis 15 | God Meets Us Where We Are

  Abraham was doubting. You would have doubted too. God had given him a promise that he would have a son, but decades had elapsed. Abraham was getting old and the possibilities of having a child were humanly non-existent. He began to offer God alternate paths, thinking that God needed some help. Genesis 15     2       Abram said, “O Lord God , what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”     3       And Abram said, “Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.”     4       Then behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.”     5       And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”     6      Then he believed in the Lord ; and He reckoned it to him as righteousnes

Genesis 11-12 | The "I Will" of God

God is bound by nothing less nor more than His character. There are things that He does not have to do, but He chooses to do because He is a good, faithful, merciful, and righteous God.   7,000 PROMISES Thousands of times in the Scripture, God initiates conversations with men and women and gives them promises. Sometimes these are conditional (“I will do this IF you will do this”), and some are unconditional (“I will do this”).   One of the greatest illustrations is God’s initial promise to Abram, later to be called Abraham, found in Genesis 12 :1-3 . Notice the details and you will notice much about God Himself.   God initiated the promise. And the Lord said to Abram (vs. 1). Abram had no clue that this was on the horizon. It was fully and totally God’s desire and implementation. God commanded a step of faith from Abram. Go forth from your country, relatives, and father’s house to the land I will show you (vs. 1). The condition of this promise was FAITH. It demanded dependency

Job 40-42 | The Ownership of God

  When hard things happen to us, as they did to Job, we have a tendency to re-evaluate God. We put Him on the scales and measure the Almighty. Most of us, with our small minds, limited views, and weak theology come to the conclusion that the problem is with God. That He is not doing things properly. “If WE were God,” we proudly reason, “we would treat people differently. We surely wouldn’t cause or allow what God has allowed in this world. And, particularly, in our lives.” We come to the conclusion that God is not fair or right or good and surely not be trusted. And, the reason we come to these erroneous thoughts is because we think we are the final evaluators of what is fair and right and good.   This is called pride.   This was Job’s problem. He began to question God and ask Him, “Why are You not doing things the right way, i.e., the way I would do them?”   OUR ACCUSATIONS OF GOD   We are NOT GOD. This is the source of all our errors. We forget who we are accusing.   “Now gird up y

Job 38-39 - The Sovereign Power of Our Providing God

It’s our greatest problem. We measure God in our own image. Thinking He is just like us, we limit God in our mind and the results are disastrous. As J.B. Phillips said, “Our God is too small.” But throughout history God gives constant reminder that although we are made in His image, He is not made in ours. He is God. He is sovereign and rules over all. And, His power is incomprehensible. JOB’S NEEDED CORRECTION Job went through great trials. He kept trusting God, but as the days of difficulty wore on, He questioned God. God let him wallow in his self-pity for a season. But there came a moment when it was time, once again, to let Job see a greater picture of His King ... to remind his servant that God was the Creator and he was merely the creature. GOD’S ANSWER It is a beautiful mark of our Sovereign King that He condescends to speak to us. “Then the Lord answered Job” the Bible says ( Job 38:1 ). He did not have to give such a direct response, but He did so for a man that He loved an

Job 1-2 | How Do You Respond When Difficulty Comes?

Job was a remarkable man. God had put a hedge about him and blessed him until he became the "greatest man in the east."   But we know the rest of the story. Satan obtained permission to touch his life and family. In one of the most devastating scenes in human history, Job lost all that he had, including his children, in a single day.    Our responses when we are squeezed indicate what is really inside of us. And what was Job's response to this horrible day?    Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, a nd naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God. (Job 1:20-22)   When you stop and ponder what really happened here, this is one of the most remarkable responses in all the Bible.    He worshiped. He confessed that everything he had was something that had come

Genesis 8-9 | God's Memory

  But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided ( Genesis 8:1 ).   God’s memory is perfect because God is perfect. But the most beautiful thing about His memory is that He chooses to remember us, and in His remembering, to help us.   God had flooded the earth as a discipline for the hideous sin and rebellion of man. But he spared Noah and his family. On the ark for 40 days, God remembered , i.e., looked with affection, at Noah and began the process of removing the water and preparing a place for Noah, his family, and the animals He had created and spared.   As they left the ark, Noah built an altar and worshiped the Lord, which was a blessing to God. Then notice the conversation between Noah and God:   “And God blessed Noah and his sons ...” ( Genesis 9:1 )   “I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you ( Genesis 9 :9 )   “I