Enough is Enough–Genesis 18 Part 3

It is never really all that close! God is a patient Father.  His desire is that none should perish.  So on the warm Canaan evening, when God told Abraham Sodom and Gomorrah’s sin was so flagrant that he was going to wipe it out, God did not make the decision easily or lightly.  God knew they were beyond redemption.  Nothing would please God more than seeing these people turn their lives around and follow him, but he knew I would never happen.

It is so easy for us to blame God for all that is wrong in the world.  When people suffer loss or are treated poorly, somehow it becomes God judging or arbitrarily doing evil to ruin lives.  Truth is the evil in our lives are usually a result of the world state and our personal choices.  We want God to somehow absolve us from the consequence–but, he does not. He allows the world and all in it to remain independent and choose.  But n order to do that, they have to live with the consequence. 

It is my prayer this last day of the year, that unlike Sodom and Gomorrah we are still redeemable and will repent and follow him.  He will forgive and restore us–if we follow him.  If not–we will fall.

God Bless You

So the Lord told Abraham, “I have heard a great outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah, because their sin is so flagrant. 21 I am going down to see if their actions are as wicked as I have heard. If not, I want to know.”

22 The other men turned and headed toward Sodom, but the Lord remained with Abraham. 23 Abraham approached him and said, “Will you sweep away both the righteous and the wicked? 24 Suppose you find fifty righteous people living there in the city—will you still sweep it away and not spare it for their sakes? 25 Surely you wouldn’t do such a thing, destroying the righteous along with the wicked. Why, you would be treating the righteous and the wicked exactly the same! Surely you wouldn’t do that! Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?”

 

Meeting with the God of the Universe–Genesis 18 part 2

When was the last time you became giddy about spending time with God? I had to ask myself that today. Make no mistake, I love the Lord and look forward to spending time with him, but, Abraham was downright excited. He prepared a feast and washed feet.  There was no obligatory “Lord’s Prayer” or chest crossing.  Abraham met and celebrated with God. It was an honor and a blessing to be in God’s presence.

What if that was the way we saw our relationship with God? What if we truly believed we were honored to be able to meet with the God of the Universe.  Would we set aside time each day to do so? Would we say adoring and honoring things to him.  Would we thank him for his kind gifts that he brought with him? Would we be real with him and set anything we had between us right? Would we humbly intercede for folks we love to the one person that could make a difference?  We have a rare and great honor, I pray that I will treat it as the honor that represents–that is the heart of worship.

God Bless You

The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.

He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord,[a] do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”

“Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.”

Hospitality the Gift of Life–Genesis 18 part 1

We are in the business of being ambassadors.  We never know with whom we will cross paths or why they have entered our lives. We can see, however, that when God has put folks in our lives, it was our duty to treat them like VIPS.  Abraham had visitors.  He knew they were from God.  He immediately treated them as the dignitaries he knew them to be.  He welcomed them, met their immediate needs and then treated them with dignity and hospitality–that is our job too.

Our culture has lost the art of making folks feel welcome.  Technology and frantic schedules have caused us to all but eliminate the chance to entertain angels unaware.  We, as Christ’s ambassadors are called to be different.  We still are to treat those that cross our paths with the same level of urgency and hospitality that Abraham did.  It is a messy business and is often thankless, but, one never knows when they will change the life of person by simply showing kindness and  love. Remember, God has a plan, trust and follow it– and like Abraham, you will have opportunities to entertain angels.

God Bless You

The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.

He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord,[a] do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”

“Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.”

Just Like a Dad!–Genesis 17 part 2

We simply cannot help ourselves. Dad’s love their kids. That love causes dad’s to deviate from the easy plan–constantly. God had intended for Abram to build Israel’s lineage through his son Isaac.  But the happy couple decided to help God out and along came Hagar and Ishmael.  Now as God was moving ahead with his plan…Abraham(formerly Abram) asks his Father and Lord to bless Ishmael as well.  God, like any father looks into the loving eyes of his son and says with a firm and disciplinary tone…”OK, you win, I will bless your son Ishmael as well.”

God adjusts our journey because he truly loves us as a father does his kids.  He uses our mistakes to grow and mature us.  He takes the broken and odd parts we create with our choices an still builds a life of beauty and a legacy of love.  Make no mistake, our choices bear consequences.  Our sin has cost.  But, our God LOVES us–and will do amazing things to give us a full and meaningful, abundant life.  Further, he will honor our heartfelt prayer.  That is why we can never quit praying; we can never give up.

Trust in the Lord and see him for the Loving Father that he is!!!

God Bless You

God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”

17 Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!”

19 Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac.[d] I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.” 22 When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him

Circumcised–Genesis 17 Part 1

 

At age 99, Abram was not expecting to make a new covenant with God.  His Son Ismael was coming of age and all seemed to be going along fine. Then God appeared and told Abram that he would have a son by Sarai.  What’s more, he told Abram that all men who were connected to him and his lineage were to be circumcised as a sign of the covenant he made.–Abraham, father of many nations.  What a twist–it is amazing to think that God still watches closely at the century mark.

God’s timing is always different than ours.  But his plan remains in tact.  He moves in our lives and allows us to choose each day whom we will serve.  As we serve him he intercedes from time to time to make sure we know he is with us.  We have to be watchful for his leadership.  We have to be faithful to our commitment.  Finally, we have to remain steadfast in readiness for his timing–if we do, he can use us to change the world.

God Bless You

10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. 13 Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

Ishmael–Genesis 16 Part 2

The current crisis with Palestine and ISIS can be traced back to this story.  Ishmael, the son of Sarai’s servant Hagar is the patriarch for the middle eastern culture. When Hagar became pregnant, Sarai despised her and ultimately drove her away.  God knew this and went into the desert and saved her—twice.  God will right the wrongs even when we do not.

Who is to say the world would have been drastically different had Abram simply waited upon God…The world has a way of growing evil exponentially each generation.  Fact is, God will protect and provide to honor his word, even when it is his folks causing the problem. We need to live lives of faith and try not to be the ones God is protecting others from.  Be humble, be kind and be selfless!

God Bless You

“Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.

The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”

“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.

Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”

11 The angel of the Lord also said to her:

“You are now pregnant     and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael,[a]     for the Lord has heard of your misery. 12 He will be a wild donkey of a man;     his hand will be against everyone     and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility     toward[b] all his brothers.”

13 She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen[c] the One who sees me.”

Helping God Out–Genesis 16 Part 1

Sadly, one of the Bible’s recurring theme is man’s lack of patience leading him to help God out.  He knows God’s promise and rather than patiently waiting upon the Lord, he does things to speed up the process.  Here Abram and Sarai decide that since God promised Abram an heir, they would put him with another woman to assure that wuld happen.  History teaches us–that was not a great plan. The Chaos to follow would be global and continue throughout time.

We have to trust God completely.  We can’t only trust him in theory but act as if we are in charge, it will always end poorly.  The Bible, History and our own personal journeys teach us that God’s timing and ours are rarely the same.  It also teaches us that his timing is the best.  Solomon put it best in Proverbs 3:5-6, “trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. Acknowledge him in all yor ways and he will make your path straight.”

God Bless You

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”

Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.

When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.”

“Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.

Wow You Are Not Kidding!–Genesis 15 Final

There Abram stood looking at the Stars and listening to God promise him the Land of Canaan and many descendants…and he asked the most transparent question imaginable–So how do I know what you promise will really happen…?  God says, “Son go get a Heifer, a goat and a lamb!”  Covenants, in those days, were not nicely drafted components of a contract.  Instead, Covenants were life and death promises that required absolute performance or absolute sacrifice. 

Specifically, the parties would cut an animal into quarters and lay them out on the ground walk between the quarters to signify that failure to perform on the covenant would require like treatment of the failing party! Ouch! Here God took 3 animals as if to say not only me, but the entire trinity makes this covenant.  The Heifer representing the father, the lamb representing the son and the Goat (Scape goat) representing the Holy spirit! God was serious.

That is the same level of commitment God has made to us.  If we will follow him he promises to redeem us from the sin we are enslaved to and restore us to a family relationship with him.  Take comfort, believer–God is not kidding!!!

God Bless You

But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”

So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”

10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.

12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”

17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi[e] of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— 19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”

Believing The Lord–Genesis 15 Part 1

Abram believed the Lord, and it was credited to him as righteousness! What an amazing thing…There Abram sat, quietly looking up at the stars sitting outside of his canvas tent home–away from his relatives and alone with his beautiful-yet, barren wife. Then and there God said, “trust me, this land will be yours and you will have heirs as numerous as the stars.”  Pretty tall order–but, Abram did trust God. Despite the trouble in Egypt and the separation and rescue of Lot, Abram knew in his heart that God had protected and provided for him and would do so all the days of his life.

At the end of the day, that is the critical part of our walk with God–the trusting and believing Him. If it was ever about what we may have accomplished, then our journey would remain about us and our nature to be self-absorbed.  As long as we can point to an action or occurrence that we control, we remain the object of our faith. When we simply believe God is who he says he is and will lead, guide and direct us according to his perfect plan, our circumstances, no matter awesome or dire remain secondary to the faith we have in him. He is Lord and Savior of our lives–we have to trust and follow him to experience the covenant relationship we desire.

God Bless You

After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:

“Do not be afraid, Abram.
    I am your shield,[a]
    your very great reward.[b]

But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit[c] my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”

Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring[d] be.”

Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

Be Careful of What You Take–and Generous of You Give–Genesis 14 Final

Abram was instantly faced with two situations–the opportunity to give of what he had and an opportunity to take what was not his, in each case–he chose wisely!  Abram saw God’s hand in his life and realized all that he had came from God.  He was, therefore, happy to share a tenth of what he had to show his grateful heart.  Conversely, the King of Sodom–offered to give Abram a great deal of plunder.  Abram knew that these men, never gave anything without a payback.  The king’s selfish nature could not give without an expectation of a return. Abram wisely refused to become tied with him.

In our lives, we are also faced with opportunities to be generous and to take from those that would demand a return.  We have to be selfless to God and give generously.  But, we must be wise in what we receive–or that may tie or entrap us to a world we want no affiliation with. Once again Choose this day whom you will serve–as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!

God Bless You

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying,

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
    Creator of heaven and earth.
20 And praise be to God Most High,
    who delivered your enemies into your hand.”

Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.”

22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “With raised hand I have sworn an oath to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, 23 that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ 24 I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me—to Aner, Eshkol and Mamre. Let them have their share.”