Numbers 23-24–It’s Not About Location

As God’s chosen, today, we too live under His provision, preparation and protection. It often feels as though the world has the upper hand; but, truth be known, nothing happens without God’s permission.

The Moabite king was convinced that he could curse Israel.  So, he summoned a local mystic–Balaam, to come and do the job.  Balaam asked God if he could take the job, and God said no. The King’s men came back and got Balaam to come–Balaam told them he would not do it, they urged him to come anyway.  God said fine, go, but only say what I tell you to say.  So, for the next several days, Balak, King of Moab, ushered the mystic from place to place. In each place, alters would be built, sacrifices made, and then–Balaam would bless Israel.

The King became furious–but, the prophet  would simply respond, I can only say what God has told me to say–and again the prophet would bless Israel. In the end, the King knew he had been stupid, his nation, and the allies of his nation were put on notice–Israel is and will be blessed by God–do not expect to defeat them.  In addition, your peoples will be destroyed, Have a nice day.

The bottom line is that the natural man does not understand the things of God. 1 Corinthians 2:14+ says it well, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” 

People think that they control their destinies. They simply do not.  There is a God who created and controls everything. The world simply thinks that because God allows evil to exist; that He must not be in control. SO Wrong! God has a plan and He will execute it to the letter. Israel was marching through the desert–awaiting the day they could enter the Promised Land. While they waited, they still were being prepared by God, provided for by God and were living under God’s protection.

As God’s chosen, today, we too live under His provision, preparation and protection.  It often feels as though the world has the upper hand; but, truth be known, nothing happens without God’s permission. That is why the promises of Roman 8:18, 28 and 34 are so significant. No matter how difficult our struggles–they cannot compare to the blessings that lie ahead. Further, all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. Finally, there is nothing in this world that can separate us from our God. Israel saw that daily. Paul wrote about it as a testimony to an amazing journey; and, we can live it–if we will simply trust and follow God!

God Bless You

Now when Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he did not resort to divination as at other times, but turned his face toward the wilderness. When Balaam looked out and saw Israel encamped tribe by tribe, the Spirit of God came on him and he spoke his message:

“The prophecy of Balaam son of Beor,
    the prophecy of one whose eye sees clearly,
the prophecy of one who hears the words of God,
    who sees a vision from the Almighty,[a]
    who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened:

“How beautiful are your tents, Jacob,
    your dwelling places, Israel!

“Like valleys they spread out,
    like gardens beside a river,
like aloes planted by the Lord,
    like cedars beside the waters.
Water will flow from their buckets;
    their seed will have abundant water.

“Their king will be greater than Agag;
    their kingdom will be exalted.

“God brought them out of Egypt;
    they have the strength of a wild ox.
They devour hostile nations
    and break their bones in pieces;
    with their arrows they pierce them.
Like a lion they crouch and lie down,
    like a lioness—who dares to rouse them?

“May those who bless you be blessed
    and those who curse you be cursed!”

Jehovah Jireh (I AM Provides)–Genesis 22:14

One of God’s names that brings the most comfort to his chosen is the name Jehovah Jireh (I AM Provides). In one of the most heart rending stories of the Bible, God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on the alter.  Isaac, the son Abraham waited a century to receive–Abraham’s heir to the kingdom God promised. Now God was calling for Abraham to sacrifice him. Abraham obeyed God, he took Isaac to the alter to carry out the sacrifice–But, when Isaac asked–Abraham told him, “God will provide!” And God did. At the last moment, the angel stopped Abraham and pointed out a ram to sacrifice instead.

God always provides.  It is rarely in the manner or timing that we expect, but, he always brings us through–in his time and in his way.  In Jeremiah 29:11, God tells his people, “I know the plans I have for you says the Lord.  Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” This God, Jehovah Jireh, wants nothing more than to see us, his chosen live an abundant and fulfilling life.  In Luke 11, Jesus reminds us, “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish–give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

It is our duty to trust God and allow him to provide–in his time, and in his way.  Then, when he does, we simply acknowledge his provision and continue to follow his plan. Like Abraham, we do not always get to know the when, how or why; we simply get to acknowledge that he is the God “I AM” and that “I AM Provides!”

God Bless You

And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.

9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”;[b] as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”[c]

What a Difference a Day Makes–Genesis 41 Part 3

It was official, 13 years after being tossed aside by his brothers, Joseph’s dream was coming true.  He was officially the chief operating officer of all Egypt.  The import of that change is staggering.  It showed the Pharaoh believed God and allowed this Hebrew to come in and manage during the good times.

Remember, Joseph built the nation and structure in a time of great plenty.  Record crops, record peace and an administrator (Joseph) that was probably cursed by the average farmer–for so unduly taxing their land. Joseph thrived–he married, had kids and forgot quickly about the betrayals and imprisonment.
 
He also forgot the original dream of going home. After all–God tapped him for a mission; and, while he did not know its eventual outcome, he knew it was his job to humbly and gratefully carry out his part.
 
In our lives, sometimes we have to simply accept God’s plan and not question each twist and turn.  We learn in Joseph’s life, in Job’s life, in David’s life and in our own–that most times, God refuses to tell us why he is doing things a certain way.
He expects our trust, and He rewards our faith with execution of a plan that is uniquely made for us. 
The ultimate goal is spiritual, not physical. He wants for us to have an eternal perspective that enjoys the present, but is not tied to it. We, like Paul grasp the concept–whether well fed, or hungry; living in plenty or in want–We can do all things through Christ–who strengthens us! Philippians 4:12-13
 
God Bless You

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.” 45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On,[d] to be his wife. And Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt.46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout Egypt. 47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully. 48 Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it. 49 Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure.

50 Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. 51 Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh[e] and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” 52 The second son he named Ephraim[f] and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”

Ministry in the Midst of Trials–Genesis 40 Part 1

When life turns sideways, it is extremely easy to become withdrawn, to become bitter and to simply stop serving God.  One would argue, “Why bother–look where it has gotten me.”  But, when one realizes that the quickest way to work though the pain of trials is to serve others, well, that is a game changer! Joseph was kidnapped from his dad, sold into slavery, accused of all manner of evil and thrown into prison–and he only did what was right!

Still in the midst of the trials and pain, Joseph continued to trust God and serve others–that is why when he saw the two officials in prison and in pain, his first thought was to help.  He was not showing off or trying to curry favor–he was simply using the gifts God gave him–to move beyond himself, and continue life.

As amazing as that sounds; it is still truthfully the best therapy for making it through a day.  God simply calls us to trust and serve him–he, in turn, will protect us, provide for us and prepare us to do the mission for which we are called.  Joseph had no idea what God had in store for him; he simply knew that following God was the only way to live, and do well in any circumstance.  We can also live a life that serves others and God and trust him to meet our needs and provide us an amazing journey! Please join me in that pursuit!

God Bless You

Some time later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt. Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined. The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them.After they had been in custody for some time, each of the two men—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison—had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.

When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why do you look so sad today?”

“We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.”

Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.”

World’s Plan be Darned, God’s Plan Always Wins–Genesis 30 Part 2

So, after Rachel finally gave Jacob a son, Jacob knew it was time to be his own people and return home.  Still, even after 15 years of service to his uncle–he really had nothing to show for his labor.  So, he struck a deal with his uncle, to help him build his own fortune. Laban told Jacob he could have the sheep and goats that were not normal.  the dark, the spotted and the striped.  But, as God was doing this for Jacob, no matter the conditions, the strong sheep and goats were the ones that were not “perfect”. 
 
Laban was both amazed and furious–he was the master of negotiation–he always won.  Yet, with his silly nephew, each of his negotiations only improved Jacob’s lot in life.  The part that Laban forgot was that his Nephew–the father of his grandchildren, had been sent to him by God and was God’s chosen–the ones that God himself prepares, provides for and protects.
 
We are also God’s chosen–we are the ones that God prepares, provides for and protects.  The world takes its shots at us and tries over and over to get the better of us.  If we fail to listen and follow God’s plan, we find it could happen.  Yet, if we continue to trust God, follow Him closely–then we see that no matter what the world throws at us, God will continue to bless us and make our path straight.  Certainly, it is confusing and maddening to those following the world’s system, But, to heck with them, our God loves us and will forever seek to bless us despite the world’s attempts to cheat.  Never lose heart, never give up–for our God is an awesome God!
 
God Bess You
After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me on my way so I can go back to my own homeland. 26 Give me my wives and children, for whom I have served you, and I will be on my way. You know how much work I’ve done for you.”…

“Don’t give me anything,” Jacob replied. “But if you will do this one thing for me, I will go on tending your flocks and watching over them: 32 Let me go through all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb and every spotted or speckled goat. They will be my wages. 33 And my honesty will testify for me in the future, whenever you check on the wages you have paid me. Any goat in my possession that is not speckled or spotted, or any lamb that is not dark-colored, will be considered stolen.”

34 “Agreed,” said Laban. “Let it be as you have said.” 35 That same day he removed all the male goats that were streaked or spotted, and all the speckled or spotted female goats (all that had white on them) and all the dark-colored lambs, and he placed them in the care of his sons. 36 Then he put a three-day journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob continued to tend the rest of Laban’s flocks…So the weak animals went to Laban and the strong ones to Jacob. 43 In this way the man grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, and female and male servants, and camels and donkeys.

Settling in For the Duration–Genesis 21 Part 2

Abraham was finally settled in the land.  It was not turned over to him yet, but, he was finally settled. Life, since Haran, had been turbulent–but now, with Isaac in his arms and God’s continued blessing on his journey, Abraham planted a Tamarisk tree, made a treaty and settled in for the long haul.  The most amazing part of the story of Abraham–was that he remained content–whatever circumstance he found himself in.  Whether in Haran, Egypt, Beersheba or somewhere in between–he continued to trust God and God continued to meet Abraham’s needs and fulfill his covenant with Abraham.

In our lives, we, like Abraham, have to trust God.  We have to play the long game, and understand that the Father’s work continues until we are called home. The difficult reality is that unless we are content in all circumstances, we will not be content in any.  So when like Abraham, we have to settle in for a portion–our focus remains on him and his plan–not on the circumstances we face.  It is the hardest challenge we, as his chosen, face every day.  It requires his divine intervention to release us from the chains of our culture, its stuff and its desires.  Only when we are free from the stuff–can we truly enjoy what he provides.  Help me, Lord to be content in the place where you have me!

God Bless You

 

The Treaty at Beersheba

22 At that time Abimelek and Phicol the commander of his forces said to Abraham, “God is with you in everything you do. 23 Now swear to me here before God that you will not deal falsely with me or my children or my descendants. Show to me and the country where you now reside as a foreigner the same kindness I have shown to you.”

24 Abraham said, “I swear it.”

25 Then Abraham complained to Abimelek about a well of water that Abimelek’s servants had seized. 26 But Abimelek said, “I don’t know who has done this. You did not tell me, and I heard about it only today.”

27 So Abraham brought sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelek, and the two men made a treaty. 28 Abraham set apart seven ewe lambs from the flock, 29 and Abimelek asked Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs you have set apart by themselves?”

30 He replied, “Accept these seven lambs from my hand as a witness that I dug this well.”

31 So that place was called Beersheba,[d] because the two men swore an oath there.

32 After the treaty had been made at Beersheba, Abimelek and Phicol the commander of his forces returned to the land of the Philistines. 33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the Lord, the Eternal God. 34 And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time.

a nation also, because he is your offspring.”

This Land is Your Land–Genesis 12 Part 2

landAbram was faithful and when God sent him he, his wife and his nephew set out by faith to Canaan–“The Promised Land.” That name has been bantered around for millennia–but, it was in his initial steps of faith that God took Abram aside and promised Abram that he would give him and his descendants the land for as far as he could see. That was a pretty bold promise to a 75  year old husband and uncle.  Abram followed without question.

As we study through the Bible, we see great acts of faith–that only demonstrate their greatness, well after they were taken.  Abram’s inhabiting of Canaan, Joseph’s interpreting dreams, Daniel’s refusing to eat the foods of the King were all monumental steps of faith–yet, at the time each seemed kind of small.

In our journey, we too have opportunities to move forward each day in faith and allow God to be amazing in our lives.  When we do, we never know what impact those steps will have on the lives of others and on our personal faith journey. But, we do know that God promises if we trust him with all our hearts, lean not on our own understanding, acknowledge him in all our ways–then he will make our paths straight! Proverbs 3:5-6.  He did that for Abram, he will do it for us! God only calls us to be faithful–not perfect, that is his job!

God Bless You

Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh and Schechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring[c] I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.

Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.