We are Called to Be Better! I Timothy 5 Part 1

People are a terrible lot.  The way people treat each other is deplorable.  With the expansive media coverage and availability, people have become even more bold and open about treating others with an complete disdain; if they have no use for them.  In the US, there was always a sense of character that prevented people from treating the old, the sick or the vulnerable with anything but proper decorum. In the 21st century, however, those social protections have faded away, and people have become desensitized to the value of others.
 
Paul tells Timothy to remind the Church that we are called to be different.  We are to treat people with love and respect.  Realize that in Roman times people were the same–they placed little value on life.  That is why the church was called to be different.  We are to treat the elderly with love and respect.  We speak to them with kindness and humility. we reach out and help them to do the things time has taken away from them. 
 
In addition, we treat the young with grace, we treat women as the true treasures that God created them to be–we protect, respect and always treat people with honesty and purity.  It is the selflessness we find in walking with God that allows us to be the gracious, the strong and the vigilant in a world of selfish and awful people.  We must embrace our spiritual heritage and  be true people of faith.
 
God Bless You
 
Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Time to Get Spiritually Fit–I Timothy 4 Part 1

The greatest lesson to learn in the spiritual world is the lesson that walking with God is a daily discipline.  Planet Fitness is growing across the nation as a franchise because it is set up to make daily discipline less traumatic, expensive and stereotyped.  People can go there on their schedule, with little cost and no one judging them.  That is the way the church is called to be. 
 
People that seek a relationship with God, need to understand that the relationship is ongoing.  It is not a 1 and done scenario.  Just like exercise only works if done consistently over time–walking with the Lord requires daily attention with time in the word and in prayer. Still, as we are learning that truth, it must be learned in a place that withholds judgement and gives encouragement.  We, as the body of Christ, need to be the ones encouraging the daily walk with God and the spiritual discipline in our lives.
 
Paul made it clear that we cannot be the ones condemning folks for not checking the boxes.  It is not about the boxes! It is about a daily discipline of simply seeking God, and training our spirits to humbly follow him.  We are not expected to be perfect, we are simply expected to seek him daily.  Thanks Lord, for remaining available daily and for welcoming our spiritual training without judgement or condemnation.
 
God Bless You
 
The Spirit makes it clear that as time goes on, some are going to give up on the faith and chase after demonic illusions put forth by professional liars. These liars have lied so well and for so long that they’ve lost their capacity for truth. They will tell you not to get married. They’ll tell you not to eat this or that food—perfectly good food God created to be eaten heartily and with thanksgiving by believers who know better! Everything God created is good, and to be received with thanks. Nothing is to be sneered at and thrown out. God’s Word and our prayers make every item in creation holy.

6-10 You’ve been raised on the Message of the faith and have followed sound teaching. Now pass on this counsel to the followers of Jesus there, and you’ll be a good servant of Jesus. Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion. Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart.

The One Who Calls Us Is Faithful–Genesis 45 Part 2

The most enjoyable part of the Joseph story is that it does end well.  While the next five years were to be the most challenging in the history of famine and drought, it really was fine.  Joseph was sent by God to save the Egyptians and his family, and he was doing it. Now, he was reunited with his family and beloved dad; and, he was going to be able to care for them; never doubting, that God was in charge.
 
In our lives, sometimes, we miss the point.  Even when God blesses us mightily, it does not stop the circumstances of life happening around us.  We have to embrace the blessings, recognize his hand in them, and be grateful for his provision and his leadership. We cannot stop facing the day-to-day battles and struggles, they still exist! We can, however, face them, knowing that he who calls us is faithful–and he will do it! I Thessalonians 5:24 
 
Joseph knew what lied ahead would be as challenging as what had come before.  But, he also knew that the God that brought him to Egypt–would use him to save it, his family and the world.  Christians have to walk with that same confidence–knowing that the God who brought us this far, WILL complete the work he has started and he will protect, prepare and provide for our every need and desire. 
 
God Bless You
 
So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. 10 You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. 11 I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’12 “You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you. 13 Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.”

14 Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.

The Twins–Genesis 25 Part 2

The building of a lineage is no small task.  Isaac was charged with the duty of continuing the line.  Now, his half-brother Ishmael had 12 sons and would have been glad to take the job, but God was clear–The lineage would come through Isaac. Like his dad, however, Isaac had to wait a quarter century to  see his kids be born. 

Rebekah was like Sarah–she was barren.  So Isaac did what he did when he sought a wife, he prayed, and prayed.  God was kind and gave him twins–once again, God did exceeding and abundantly more than Isaac could have imagined. But, there was a catch, the older would serve the younger–From the start, that would not play well.  But, God’s plan was perfect, so as Jacob and Esau entered the world, God was kind enough to let their parents know how things would progress.

God is not in the business of hiding the truth–since Adam and Eve, God has shared the truth with his people.  We often miss it, or disregard it; simply because we think we know better–“That tree of knowledge of good and evil makes some yummy looking fruit…!”  Still, as a father, I am constantly reminded that even though we train our kids on what is the right thing, they periodically disregard it, because they think they know better.  So we continue to teach, discipline and coach all the days of their lives–as God does with us, hoping to direct them toward the journey God has laid out for them–so they can experience the peace we have in humbly and gratefully following our Lord. Paul said it best, “He who has begun a good work in you, will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus!” Phil 1:6

God Bless You


 

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

In the World–BUT, Not of the World–Genesis 24 Part 1

It is very important to preserve our culture.  Abraham had lived his adult life as he was raised–trusting God and following God closely. He was raised in a home and culture where God was still honored and followed.  While that culture was neither popular or widely practiced, God knew that diluting it by mixing it liberally in the world culture would not end well.  God’s desire was to build a kingdom of priests–a nation that served God and brought his message of restoration to the world. 
 
God also knew that by mixing cultures, the world would dramatically impact Abraham’s family–far more than Abraham’s family would ever affect world.  That is why Abraham sought for and obtained the promise from his servant to find his son, Isaac a wife from the people in his land and of his family.  Abraham had already witnessed time and again the affect of the world–his nephew now was building his lineage through children he had with his own daughters–simply because God wiped out the evil that was Sodom and Gomorrah where Lot liberally mixed his family. 
 
The world’s way always diverges from God’s way.  That is why we are called to be “in the world”–but not “of the world”. That is why we–as families, like Abraham, have to raise those families in the culture–but define ourselves from the culture.  What we do to entertain ourselves, how we treat others and how we prioritize God in our daily lives; will separate us from the world.  In that position, we cannot be afraid of rejection from the world, we should be glad for such rejection–Abraham was! Jesus promised–“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.”
 
God Bless You

Abraham was now very old, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. He said to the senior servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh. 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, but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.”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?”

“Make sure that you do not take my son back there,” Abraham said. “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[a] I will give this land’—he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there. 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.” So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore an oath to him concerning this matter.

10 Then the servant left, taking with him ten of his master’s camels loaded with all kinds of good things from his master. He set out for Aram Naharaim[b] and made his way to the town of Nahor. 11 He had the camels kneel down near the well outside the town; it was toward evening, the time the women go out to draw water.

So Long Sister Sarah–Genesis 22 Part 1

 Abraham lost his best partner.  Sarai, later Sarah stood beside Abraham during his days in Haran, then as he wandered through Canaan.  She allowed herself to be taken as Abram’s sister–by a number of Kings. She never held a grudge, nor did her years of bareness cause her to lose faith. She waited until  nearly one hundred to bear her son. She raised him faithfully and allowed God to continue to do the leading.  In that mode, she watched her family grow to be wealthy and powerful, but, never expected anything; she only followed faithfully.
 
It is also the same today.  We are in a wilderness of culture similar to the godless Canaanites. As we follow God closely, we may often feel like wanderers.  We may face points in the journey where we seem like hopeless captives, homeless foreigners or simple nomads. All the while, we journey toward the promised land–Heaven.  As we approach, we look more and more like the one we follow most closely.  Interestingly, our journey leaves a trail of others who also adopt the relationship and legacy of those who want become like our father.
 
Sarah, Abraham and those who came after, had one likeness–their desire to please and honor God.  That desire, the attitude of their heart was the greatest legacy they could leave.  It is also the greatest legacy we can leave.  God never demands perfection, only a desire to seek and follow him.  So as we follow God–we need to adopt the same spirit as Sister Sarah…
 
God Bless You
Sarah lived to be a hundred and twenty-seven years old. She died at Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep over her.

Then Abraham rose from beside his dead wife and spoke to the Hittites.[a] He said, “I am a foreigner and stranger among you. Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my dead.”

The Hittites replied to Abraham, “Sir, listen to us. You are a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will refuse you his tomb for burying your dead.”

Then Abraham rose and bowed down before the people of the land, the Hittites. He said to them, “If you are willing to let me bury my dead, then listen to me and intercede with Ephron son of Zohar on my behalf so he will sell me the cave of Machpelah, which belongs to him and is at the end of his field. Ask him to sell it to me for the full price as a burial site among 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.

That Just Isn’t Fair–Genesis 21 Part 1

We see the world linearly, while God see’s the world from an all knowing, omnipresent way. Because our view is so limited, many things that God does and allows seem both unfair and unreasonable.  What Abraham understood was that God knew the plan–and it was not his job to question it; it was his job to trust God and follow his lead.  Make no mistake, Abraham loved his son Ishmael, but, God always intended to build Abraham’s lineage through Isaac. Trusting that, Abraham honored God’s command and sent Hagar and Ishmael on their way.  I am sure it was not easy, but, as Abraham had trusted God for 25 years–he had to again trust God to bring his plan to fruition.
 
Nothing has changed.  There is so much in the world that seems unfair.  Many of the things result from men’s choices to do evil and reject God.  Some things that happen, however, do not seem–from our linear perspective to make sense or even align with God’s nature in any way.  We, therefore, begin to blame God for life’s trials–rather than seek Him to make sense of them and follow him through the difficult times.  Many things will never have a why attached, but, most will find him walking with us and propping us up–when it seems we cannot continue to go forward.
 
God is both ready and able to meet us where we are and carry us through any and all circumstances–even those that do not seem fair. We, like Abraham, must be willing to trust him and follow him even in the times we do not understand his plan or life’s circumstance.  This is war–and, as his warriors, we must be prepared to take the steps to survive and follow his lead.
 
God Bless You

Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Isaac[a] to the son Sarah bore him. When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” 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.”

Hagar and Ishmael Sent Away

The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. 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.”

11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 12 But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring[b] will be reckoned. 13 I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”