The Abundant (Controversial) Christian Life-Genesis 25 part 2

Consistent prayer does not assure a life without challenge or controversy.  In Abraham’s lineage, there was a very complex situation.  Abraham fathered Isaac—God’s choice for the chosen people.  He also Fathered Ishmael—Sarah’s choice.  And then, Abraham remarried and fathered many more kids—His choice.  In the end, God’s choice inherited all.  Even after that issue was settled, Isaac’s family is promised its own controversy.  “The older will serve the younger.”  Nothing in Bible history, or church history or even our history has ever hinted that life would be easy and non-controversial.  Adrian Rogers said in a sermon I heard this morning, “The difficult and trying times are when we learn the most.”

When we receive Christ as Lord, he conforms us into a new creation and ultimately into his image.  Such forging only happens in extreme heat and repeated molding. We must be prepared to face the controversy and adversity—then we can also enjoy the final molding and conforming he promises.  Help me Lord to be conformed to your image, no matter the cost.

God Bless You

19 This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Isaac. Abraham became the father of Isaac, 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram[c] and sister of Laban the Aramean. 21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.

23 The Lord said to her,

“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger. ”

24 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 25 The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau.[d] 26 After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob.[e] Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them.

While You Were Praying–Genesis 24 part 2

God loves to do things in a way that shows his signature.  Abraham’s servant arrives in Haran and there to meet him is Isaac’s wife. As he finished praying, Rebekah appeared .  When The servant returned Isaac was out praying, As he looked up they appeared.  Time and again, God proves his plan and its execution.  Still, then and now people have very short term memories.  They soon forget God’s consistent commitment and completion of his promise.  So, when they are in need or feeling self-sufficient, they act as if God cannot be trusted.  Still he keeps his daily commitment to provide our needs and participate in our lives.  As we surrender he directs and comlpletes in us a plan that is amazing.  We have to be patient; we have to set aside our preconceived ideas, but, when we do, he gives us the things we need and his spirit to comfort guide and direct us.

We have to follow to the end.  We cannot get close and quit.  We are more than conquerors in him and we must cling to the thousands of years of consistent completion of his plan to carry us through.  Help me Lord, not to lose faith and hope in you.

God Bless You

59 So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham’s servant and his men. 60 And they blessed Rebekah and said to her,

“Our sister, may you increase
to thousands upon thousands;
may your offspring possess
the cities of their enemies.”

61 Then Rebekah and her attendants got ready and mounted the camels and went back with the man. So the servant took Rebekah and left.

62 Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev. 63 He went out to the field one evening to meditate,[f] and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. 64 Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel 65 and asked the servant, “Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?”

“He is my master,” the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself.

66 Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. 67 Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

A Drink for Camels–Genesis 24 part 2

It is never a bad time to pray.  Abraham’s Servant was sent on a very critical mission.  He was to return with Isaac’a Bride.  No pressure, right.  So the Servant made the best choice of all put it in the Lord’s hand and let him execute his plan.  The Servant prayed specifically and God answered specifically.  God drew Rebekah into the servant’s path and showed him she was the answer. 

In our lives, God listens to our prayer and is equally as willing to answer our prayer as well.  When he does, we need to be grateful and vocal about God’s specific answers to our specific prayer.  When we cling to him and His promises, God is glad to lead, guide and direct us to the place we need to be.  Help me Lord to be present to pray and willing to wait and watch you answer.

God Bless You

12 Then he prayed, “Lord, God of my master Abraham,   make me successful   today, and show kindness   to my master Abraham. 13 See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. 14 May it be that when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink,   and I’ll water your camels too’ —let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac.   By this I will know   that you have shown kindness to my master.”15 Before he had finished praying,   Rebekah   came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel   son of Milkah,   who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor. 16 The woman was very beautiful,   a virgin;   no man had ever slept with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again.

17 The servant hurried to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water from your jar.”18 “Drink,   my lord,” she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink. 19 After she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels   too,   until they have had enough to drink.” 20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels. 21 Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the Lord had made his journey successful.

 

Remaining Separate–Genesis 24 part 1

Abraham was committed to the idea that he keep his family separate from the culture. He sent his servant to his native land to find Isaac a wife.  What an inconvenience.  But, Abraham knew that God had called him to this Land, but he did not call him to join in with everyone else.  He was a chosen man and the father of a chosen people.  He was to build a nation of folks that believed in and submitted to God.  He knew that intermarrying with the local people would simply destroy his family heritage of life and worship.  He also knew that if he sent his son back to their homeland, he would probably stay.  

In our lives, we are called to be in the world but not of it.  We are not to run away from where we live, but we are to remain different.  We are to be selfless and God serving not selfish and self-serving.  Nothing in our culture would support that, so, that is why we are to live differently in this culture.  It is most difficult to remain steadfast when times are tough and the world is offering instant relief and instant gratification.  If we do commit to being different, we will be blessed.  We will never truly know how many struggles we will miss by simply following closely behind the Lord.  Help me, Lord to honor you and live different than the world.

God Bless You

24 Abraham was now very old, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. 2 He said to the senior servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh. 3 I want you to swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, 4 but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac. ”5 The servant asked him, “What if the woman is unwilling to come back with me to this land? Shall I then take your son back to the country you came from? ”

6 “Make sure that you do not take my son back there,” Abraham said. 7 “The Lord, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father’s household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give this land’ —he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there. 8 If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there.” 9 So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore an oath to him concerning this matter.

Thanks, But no Thanks–Genesis 23

The world means well.  In their limited way, they do often reach out to be helpful.  As the body of Christ, it is easy to buy in to the good intentions of the world and in the process walk away from the Lord.  It is often the case that the world seems more caring and more kind than the Church.  That is why many that are lonely and lost gravitate to the world rather than the church.  The sad news is that in the end, the world captures and kills all it possesses.  No matter how kind the start, the end is always unsatisfying and deadly.  That is why we are told to live in the world but remain separate from its attitudes, actions and culture. 

We are citizens of another land.  We have died to the world and have been raised as new creatures in Christ.  Abraham  knew he should not take a gift from the Hittities.  He would then be tempted to join with them.  He was kind, respectful and grateful for the generosity, but he remained set apart from their culture and lifestyle.  We need to be the same.  We should always be kind and respectful and grateful for kindness in the world, but our lives need to remain different and driven by our love for Christ and not the circumstances.  Like Abraham, we need to walk in a way that honors God in the midst of a world that simply could not care any less.  Help me, Lord to remain in the world, but not like the world.

God Bless You

10 Ephron the Hittite was sitting among his people and he replied to Abraham in the hearing of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of his city. 11 “No, my lord,” he said. “Listen to me; I give[b] you the field, and I give[c] you the cave that is in it. I give[d] it to you in the presence of my people. Bury your dead.”

12 Again Abraham bowed down before the people of the land 13 and he said to Ephron in their hearing, “Listen to me, if you will. I will pay the price of the field. Accept it from me so I can bury my dead there.”

14 Ephron answered Abraham, 15 “Listen to me, my lord; the land is worth four hundred shekels[e] of silver, but what is that between you and me? Bury your dead.”

16 Abraham agreed to Ephron’s terms and weighed out for him the price he had named in the hearing of the Hittites: four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weight current among the merchants.

17 So Ephron’s field in Machpelah near Mamre —both the field and the cave in it, and all the trees within the borders of the field—was deeded 18 to Abraham as his property in the presence of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of the city. 19 Afterward Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah near Mamre (which is at Hebron ) in the land of Canaan. 20 So the field and the cave in it were deeded to Abraham by the Hittites as a burial site.

Do What–God??? Genesis 22

When God trusts you he will take you to places that you never thought you would have to go.  Abraham waited a century for Isaac.  He separated himself from his son Ishmael for Isaac.  He loved and adored this son—Then God asked him to sacrifice him.  What a horrible thought.  Abraham was faithful.  He took his son and laid him on the alter.  He raised the knife and God stopped him from completing the sacrifice.  God trusted Abraham to the end and Abraham did the same.  This relationship was a picture the nation of Israel would never forget. 

Then God did the same.  He sent his son, laid him on the alter and allowed his life to be forfeited for our salvation.  How much are we willing to trust God?  How far are we willing to go.  The truth is our faith and our surrender are the only gifts we can give that bring our Lord joy.  The attitude of surrender are the sweetest sacrifice of all.  We only need to follow him and listen and we will see it credited as righteousness.  God loves us.  He takes us to the edge time and again.  Each event draws us closer and makes us more willing to trust him.  Things that used to seem impossible seem very doable in his power.  Help me, lord to follow closely and trust you complexly.

God Bless You

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

2 Then God said, “Take your son , your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you. ”

3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you. ”

6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son. ”

Each person’s legacy–Genesis 21 part 2

Ishmael did nothing to plan his destiny.  He was a child.  He was never intended to be the lineage to save the world.  But God had a plan for him as well.  His plan, however, was as important to God as Isaac’s.  Hagaar wanted to be the mom of the chosen child.  That simply was not to be.

We all have expectations of what we want God’s plan for our lives to be.  Often times, we think we are to be the chosen one.  We believe that God will use us to change the world and bless us beyond measure.  That simply may not be his plan for us.  But, He does have a plan for us.  We ultimately must recognize that submission to his plan is the only way to live.  It is more fulfilling and more rewarding than any plan we can concoct for ourselves.  If we continue to trust and follow him, he will protect and provide for our needs and build a legacy for us.  Help me, Lord to trust and follow you and your plan for my life.

God Bless You

8 The child [Isaac] grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. 9 But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”…

15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob.

17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation. ”

19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.

20 God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. 21 While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt.

Laughter is the best medicine-Genesis 21 part 1

The things that God can accomplish are amazing.  So much so, that we sometimes take it for granted.  When we hear God parted the Red Sea or provided Manna for 2 million people daily for 40 years, we think that is nice—But wow, when God does amazing things we need to take notice of how great he is.  Sarah was barren for over 90 years—then she has a son.  Not just any son, the one that is to father the lineage that saves the world.  I cannot even wrap my mind around how miraculous and auspicious that truly is. 

In our lives, he does amazing things each day.  Providing, healing saving and leading people around the globe into a right relationship with him. God is great.  In my own life, he does thing after thing to remind me he is God!  If I pay attention, it sustains me when faith is difficult.  If I forget, he could not ever do enough to convince me.  It is my job to hide his word in my heart so I always remember how great he is.  When I do—the amazing remains amazing!  Thanks Lord for your patience and amazing power!

God Bless You

21 Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. 2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. 3 Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. 4 When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

6 Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” 7 And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”

Snuggling with the Father-Psalm 131

I took a break today from the Genesis story—As I sought the Lord in the Psalms, this message screamed out–yet again.  God wants his kids to be content.  Not haughty, not proud—simply in step with him.  We must surrender to the idea that HE will provide and HE will protect.  The idea of a child snuggled in its Momma’s arms—no worries or cares.  It is almost too much to understand or believe, but, God does have us safe in his arms and has  plans for our journey.  When we lose sight of his consistent faithfulness, we tend to want to run from him and take care of ourselves. The harder we work, the more obvious becomes the folly of our “Helping God out.”  We need to seek, follow and rest in him.  He then will provide, protect and propel us into the relationship we have always longed for.  Help me, Lord to snuggle into your safe and sustaining arms.

God Bless You

My heart is not proud, Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.

3 Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore.

She’s still my Sister–Genesis 20

Abraham still was afraid his wife’s beauty would be his end.  She is my sister—He told the King.  The King took her as a wife AT AGE 90+.  Once again, God as a protector of his own, saved Abraham and Sarah.  The King initially was mad.  But, then if you think of it—He did take Sarah.  So God allowed him to make things right.  Abraham prayed for him and his kingdom and they were saved. 

When we follow God, it does not mean we will always be perfect.  We still sin.  But God looks at our faith and our hearts and when we submit and follow him, he will bless us and protect us.  He provides in so many ways we never understand.  I am sure Abraham was astonished when the King came with a repentant heart.  He would have never guessed that.  Often we face insurmountable odds in our lives and see God help bring us through without any help from us.  The Lord wants us to pull up stakes and follow.  He wants us to trust him to meet our needs and protect us.  When we do, we are blessed and we bless others around us.  Abraham should not have feared the King, but, Abraham certainly trusted the Lord and his faith was counted as righteousness.  Help me Lord, to have Abraham’s faith

God Bless You

20 Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, 2 and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister. ” Then Abimelek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her. 3 But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.” 4 Now Abimelek had not gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation? 5 Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister, ’ and didn’t she also say, ‘He is my brother’? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands. ” 6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her. 7 Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die.”