July 18

1 Chronicles 5:1 (NIV)The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (he was the firstborn, but when he defiled his father's marriage bed, his rights as firstborn were given to the sons of Joseph son of Israel; so he could not be listed in the genealogical record in accordance with his birthright, ...

In Israel, the firstborn had a double the inheritance of the other heirs. They also had the responsibilities to lead the clan and provide for the women without husbands. They represented the clan and made decisions as head. Reuben was born into this position, but yielding to temptation caused him to lose it. It was a passing momentary pleasure, one large spot on the life of an otherwise faithful son. He was the one that wanted to spare Joseph.

There are times when we face difficult temptations and wonder if there is some way we can indulge without having to pay a price. Sin always takes you further than you want to go and costs you more than you want to pay. God's grace may free you from some of the consequences or He may not. Sin always exaggerates the potential pleasure as it blinds you to the potential price you will end up paying.

On the other hand, Joseph stood strong in the face of temptation. He refused to yield to the enticements of Potiphar's wife. It was one step on his way to a position he only dreamed of. Obedience to God reaped rewards he could not have seen except by the revelation of God. If that were not enough, he was given the position and rights of firstborn. Obedience takes the faithful where they can be most effective and rewards them beyond their dreams. Seems like a simple choice to make, but we need God's help to make it on a daily basis.

Consider: Am I making choices in obedience to the Spirit of God today?

July 18

Acts 4:11-13 (NIV) 11He is "'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone'. 12Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." 13When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

Peter and John saw a crippled man begging at the temple. Peter told him that he had no money to give him, but what he did have was healing in Jesus' name. He took the man by the hand and lifted him to his feet. The man ran around jumping up and down praising God. That drew quite a crowd and raised a commotion. The religious leaders kept Peter and John confined overnight. The next day they brought them out for questioning. When asked about the miracle, Peter, the same man that once denied he knew Jesus, boldly declared that it was through faith in the name of the man they had murdered that the cripple could walk. He quoted Scriptures to back up his declaration.

Then he made a very bold statement; salvation from sin is found in no one else.

Jesus' name is the only one that God has given to provide salvation. It is only through the authority granted to Jesus that anyone might be saved. There is one way, not many. Jesus was very clear in saying that He is the way to the Father. He declared that He is the gate through which all men must go.

Galileans like Peter were not known for their schooling. They were more famous for acts of violence. When the religious leaders saw that Peter and John were speaking with great boldness and eloquence, they wondered about the influence Jesus had on their lives. They did not realize it was Jesus speaking through them by the power of the Holy Spirit. Brother or sister, it does not matter what your background is. Jesus can give you boldness to say what needs to be said in any situation. Peter knew his words would be insufficient. He let the Holy Spirit answer their question. The bold convicting answer sounded just like His Savior, because it was.

Consider: Are you relying on the power of the Holy Spirit to speak through you?