LifeWay Church Community's daily walk through the book of Genesis - to become well-equipped and passionate followers of Christ

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

all good things...

OK, here's the deal - time and benefit have both figured in, and I've decided not to continue the blog. There were relatively few who responded that they were in fact using the blog, and my life has amped up in terms of time commitments as it is... so I won't be continuing the blog. But watch the church web site - www.lifewayreno.org for a new blog when we get the new web site up and running. It will be more my thoughts, commentary, etc. on what's going on in the world and in my own life (all aspects: spiritual, family, social, church, etc.) Thanks for your support in doing this blog...


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Monday, September 18, 2006

BLOG SURVEY

I'm comiing to a place in both my schedule and in my life that I'm needing to re-evaluate some things - this blog being one of them. I don't mind doing it (I actually enjoy it) but could use the time for many other things if it is not being utilized. Please let me know if you utilize the blog, and how frequently. Reply either by leaving a comment on this blog - or by e-mailing me at cg(at)lifewayreno(dot)org. Thanks


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Thursday, September 14, 2006

What I can't handle...

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 22:15-19

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It appears that God is not through blessing Abraham and making promises to Him. There's always more that can be expected from God when a live of faith is lived. In fact, the writer of Hebrews says that without faith, we cannot plese God (read it here). Abraham clearly had faith, so we MUST assume that he was pleasing to God. The blessing of God, though in some respects common to all people, is a sure sign of His favor or pleasure with an individual. We've already seen it said of Abraham that God was with him (read it here), and we will see it said of many others as we continue through the scriptures. God being "with" a person means His blessing is upon them. I believe that obedience, through faith in God, plays a huge part in the outpouring of that kind of blessing. God's promise here, "I will bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore," proves that.

One of the interesting references to this passage in the New Testament is found in Galatians 3:16 (read it here). Paul makes a careful observation that the blessing God gave to Abraham here is very general (children as numerous as the stars and the sand) but also very specific. Paul tells us that the use of the word "seed" (offspring in the NIV) was very deliberate - singular in its intent. Does that make sense? What Paul is saying is that when God made this promise to Abraham He was referring to one particular descendant of Abraham - one seed (not seeds). Paul's application was clear - the blessing that would come through Abraham's line to bless the entire world would be Jesus Christ. Abraham's name got to be at the top of the list when it came to the lineage of Jesus... because of his obedience to God in faith. That's what it means when it says, "because you have obeyed me."

APPLICATION:

Do you see the vital importance of obedience to God. It requires faith - no doubt. It requires that we learn to trust God, to depend on Him - because He'll often ask us to step into situations out of obedience that we'd have no business being in otherwise. He'll ask us to step into places that we have no ability to handle on our own. That requires faith in Him to be there in the midst of it and to give us the ability and resource we need to pull off His instructions.

I'll tell you one of the Christian phrases that grates on me every time I hear it. It bothers me because it reveals a lack of understanding about faith - and too much focus on us (as opposed to focus on God). Do you want to know what it is? Here it goes...

GOD WON'T PUT YOU/ME INTO ANY SITUATION THAT WE CAN'T HANDLE...(or some variation of that).

I think we tell ourselves that to soothe the nagging feeling that we're not going to be able to handle the wild circumstances of our lives. I think we say it to console ourselves into thinking that maybe we really can hack it after all. The problem is that we are consoling ourselves with a lie. The statement simply is NOT true. God will CONTINUALLYask us to step into situations we can't handle. He doesn't want us to handle them - He wants us to learn how to trust Him to handle it FOR US! Stepping out to accomplish or do something that God asks us to do, even when we don't have the resources - T H A T I S F A I T H !!!! Stay tuned this coming Sunday for more on this...

So let me ask you... Now that faith is defined a bit more clearly, what kind of faith do YOU have?

PRAYER:

Father, we pray often that we'll have more faith - and then when the difficult circumstances (the ones we can't handle on our own) come our way, we cry and moan and ask why You are allowing such things! I believe You are directly answering our prayers! You are trying to put us into a context where we will grow in our faith! Thank You for being smarter than us about all of this - and doing what is best for us even when we don't know it. Give us eyes to see the reality of what You are doing in our lives through the circumstances of our lives. Grow us up..."


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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

God's way is higher...

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 22:6-14

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OBSERVATIONS:

Put yourself in Abraham's shoes as he was putting the wood on Isaac's back, as he was picking up the knife and taking the fire, as he was walking up the mountain with his son by his side, as he answered his son's question (by the way, there's reason to believe that Issac could have been as old as a young adult by this time). What would be going on in your heart? What pains, what doubts would you be feeling and having? How difficult would it be to follow through with what God had told you to do? Even being convinced about God's ability to raise Isaac from the dead, there would still be the pain of what you had to do.

Put yourself in his place as he built the altar, arranged the wood, and bound his son . Put yourself there as he took the knife and raised it to kill his own son.

Then God speaks... at just the right time! What a relief and welcome distraction it must have been! Abraham, and Isaac got a reprieve. And God provided for the sacrifice, making Abraham's words about the provision of the lamb more prophetic than he knew when he spoke them.

Putting yourself there helps you see the reality of what happened, and the difficulty of having faith in circumstances like that. God's ways are often so far above ours and His plans so much larger than the immediate crisis that we see - that we really have no hope of seeing differently. We can only trust Him in those times.

APPLICATION:

There are a couple of interesting things we can observe and apply from all of this - one very obvious and another not so obvious.

First, we often face situations of confusion, doubt, and fear just like Abraham was facing. And just like his situation, the stakes are often very high. But unlike Abraham, we tend to get fixated on the circumstance and on the potential "cost" of doing things a certain way - instead of requiring our gaze to stay firmly on the God who is behind it all. When we see Him as He really is, then we can face the circumstances and do the actions that were so threatening to us before. He IS for us! He IS on our side! We have to be very careful that we don't try to define exactly what that is supposed to look like - that's His prerogative... but we can know that He will do what is absolutely best in the end...

Secondly, notice that even though Abraham had clearly heard specific instructions from the Lord and was moving to obey them - he stayed in a place of open-ness to further instruction from the Lord. This is very instructive to us. I for one, tend to get focused on the first thing God said to me and won't allow any other input to come into the equation. I run with the first thing I heard, and all the while He is trying to tell me something additional to do or consider. What would have happened if Abraham had done that? He would have ignored the Lord's voice on the mountain and would have killed his own son. Do you see the lesson? Even when we KNOW we've heard from the Lord - we still have to remain open to hearing even more from Him. He's ALWAYS in charge - even when we are in the midst of our obedience and the carrying out of our faith...

PRAYER:

Father, teach us... these things are too large for us to grasp...


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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A "test?"

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 22:1-5

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OBSERVATIONS:

This story really is the culmination of Abraham's life of faith...even though it wasn't the end of his life. I guess what I mean is that it is the account that demonstrates the extent of his faith better than any other. Just put yourself in his shoes and you'll know what I mean. He's already lost one son by following God's instructions. Now it sounds like he's about to lose another...at least at first. But somewhere between God's command and the next morning, Abraham had thought it through and realized something that made it all "O.K." Here's what the writer of Hebrews says about it...

"By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death."

It's clear that Abraham did some thinking that night - and came to the conclusion that God, because of His power, His character, His love - could be trusted. That's really what it's all about. The more we see Him, the less any obstacle or command He gives us really matters at all.

APPLICATION:

It's clear that Abraham truly did become the "father of faith" as he's often called. His faith is a testimony and challenge to us - an example for us to follow. But there's something in the first first that we need to notice and discuss too... God "tested" Abraham by asking Him to do this...

What kind of test is this? To ask a man to kill his only son, the one that all the hope of the future has been based on? What kind of demented, perverse kind of person would ask such a thing? I'm just saying aloud (so to speak) what many people feel when they read this account. And the answer is that an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good, all-just God is the type of Person who would ask such a thing. And He does so, not to torture us, but to grow us. As egotistical as it may sound, He knows that the very best thing we can love and put all our hopes in, is Him. Anything else that takes that place, even a beloved, promised son, is misplaced. He wants to open our eyes to that fact. He wants to show us that He is everything (yes, EVERYTHING) we ever really need. Abraham discovered that truth somewhere in the night before heading off to to what God had said. And when he did, he discovered that with God in the center of our view there is always hope - no matter how dark the circumstance may seem. God's presence brings hope - because HE is the all-sufficient one for whom all things are possible. The "test" was not for God to find out something - but for Abraham to discoverd something about himself and his God. I think he passed the test...

Where are you in all of this? What things are you holding onto that may be taking the place of God? A child, your family, a dream, a job, a possession, an attitude, a belief system, a religious tradition? It can be any or all of these and many more. Even good things can become idols - just ask Abraham. Allow yourself to be drawn inexplicably to God - like a moth to a flame. You won't be burned...

PRAYER:

Father, I admit that I have to learn this lesson again and again. It's re-learning time. Daily life draws my gaze away from You and toward other things that may seem more attractive temporarily, but really never give anything of lasting or eternal value. Only You can do that. I know that, but I have to be continually reminded. Thank You for the tests that come. I don't like them when they come, but I like what they accomplish in my life. They refine me, lead me away from my short-sighted ambitions and desires - and ultimately lead me back to You. Who could say that is not worth any cost? I love You Father...


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Monday, September 11, 2006

what kind of life?

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 21:22-4

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OBSERVATIONS:

This passage seems pretty innocuous, like it doesn't concern us much. There's simply an account of a treaty that Abraham made with this man, Abimelech. This is the same man, by the way who Abraham had lied to and told that Sarah was his sister back in chapter 20 (read it here). But what caught my attention was this phrase, spoken by Abimelech himself, "God is with you in everything you do." Here's a man who has been an observer of Abrham's life - and a man who was duped by him and almost got in big trouble with God because of him. Yet, he is able to see the blessing of God in Abraham's life.

APPLICATION:

What kind of life did Abraham live that made God's blessing so evident? There is a particular promise of God that He would bless Abraham particularly, and that must have been obvious to those looking on. He had become rich with livestock and servants and was a victor in a major battle of the recent past. All of that may prompt us to judge that the evidence of God's blessing was unique to him and really doesn't apply to us. But is that true?

Like Abraham, we've been given a promise of blessing, but our promise is conditional, based on our lifestyle and submission toward God. Abraham was blessed by God, PERIOD. We are blessed by God when we submit to Him in obedience.

So the obvious question is this... what type of response from God does your life illicit? Blessing or not? You be the judge....

PRAYER:

Lord, teach us to live in the way that You bless. Teach us unyielding faith and resolute obedience. We need so much to come under the complete headship of You.


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confusion that builds faith

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 21-8-21

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OBSERVATIONS:

From a human persepctive, this passage has somewhat distressing things in it. Sarah's jealousy for the sake of Isaac is very understandable, but seems petty - especially in light of the fact that Ishmael's very existence can be contributed to Sarah's ingenuity in helping God do His work (I'm being facitious there...). The fact that she doesn't want to allow him any priviledge could be an indication of how much she regrets the choice she made way back then in giving Hagar to Abraham as a wife. Ishmael is the constant reminder to her of her own lack of judgement and sin.

So, she pushes Abraham, just like she did the first time (to take Hagar as his wife too) but this time it is in order to get rid of Hagar an Ishmael. Honestly, it feels very duplicitous to me. I don't like Sarah at this point. I don't like her attitude and I don't like what she's doing. Hagar has been under her control all along, and though Ishmael WAS INDEED being very disrespectful to Isaac and Sarah and Abraham (as children sometimes are), I don't think there is any justification for Sarah to insist that the two of them be sent away.

Then comes the twist - God tells Abraham to do what Sarah wants. What???!!!??? Did I read that correctly?!!??? God Himself agrees with Sarah? It's clear from what God says that He's not approaching the situation from the same attitude and motive as Sarah, but His command to Abraham confirms the same course of action Sarah suggested - send away Hagar and Ishmael.

Why would God do this? Why would he allow a seeming injustice like this to be carried out? CAUTION: Remember that when we ask "why" when it comes to God - we are setting ourselves up for a situation where we quite possibly will not be able to grasp the answer we get. God seems to be less concerned, in this situation, with the fairness than He is with the protection of His promises to Abraham. He has promised that Isaac will be the one through whom all the world will be blessed. He has promised that Isaac will be the one to carry on the family name (even though he is really second-born, something not commonly done in their culture). But God also gives Abraham assurance that Ishamel will become great too, and be blessed as well because of His promise to Abraham. God, faithful to His word and covenant is going to bless the fruit of Abraham that was not intended to be in the first place...all because He's promised to bless Abraham.

APPLICATION:

Do you have a thing or situation in your life where there seems to have been an injustice? Does something seem unfair? Have you questioned God about it and come up dry? Remember this if you remember nothing else: God is God, you are not. He gets to decide on things and often to our dismay. But He is good too. He is doing what is ultimately BEST for all parties and for the carrying out of His eternal and righteous plan. Good wins in the end, because God sees to it. I know it's hard to trust in difficult circumstances and when confusion is high. But it's comforting to settle yourself with the fact that God is TRULY trustworthy. (worthy of trust).

PRAYER:

Father, continue to teach us how to trust You. And though that is the prayer of our hearts, help us to realize that in order to do that, You'll probably put us in situations where we HAVE to trust You... and we won't like it when that happens. But even then, grow trust in our hearts. Cause our faith to become something that honors You, instead of our lack of it slandering You.


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our trustrworthy God

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 21:1-7

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I love the way this is worded - it speaks such powerful words about the faithfulness and integrity of God. Phrases like these are what I am talking about... "just as He said He would be." and "what He had promised to do." and "at the exact time God had promised him."

Our God is the same God Abraham worshipped. He is a God of His word. You will never find a case of Him not doing what He said He would do - at least not without Him explaining why the outcome was different...

And the name Isaac - what a great sense of irony and humor God has. His name actually means "laughter" - whis has to be both an expression of the laughter of unbelievable joy that Abraham and Sarah must have felt at his birth, and also a reminder of Sarah's laughter when she was told that she would give birth to him (at 90 years of age). God's faithfulness and His plan were certain, not to be thwarted by anything.

APPLICATION:

We can count on God to be and do everything He has promised. Most of us do not have a specific, temporal (earthly) promise that God has given to us, as Abraham did - but we do have the promises of His care, His character, His eternal plans for us, and His overarching commitment to us as His children. We have got to learn how to bank on that more, to engrain those truths into our minds so that we are able to live with confidence and strength in the face of the doubts and atatcks that our enemy hurls at us. What would it take for YOU to take the next step in that? Do you need to become more familiar with Him and His promises? Do you need to become aware of exactly what He has promised to you? Or do you need to take the time to examine your life's situations and find where those things apply? Take the time... you need it to shore up the foundations of your faith and life...

PRAYER:

Father, reveal more of Yourself - and teach us how to engrain Your character and the truths of Your commitment to us in our souls. Do this so that we won't vacillate and bring shame to You by our lack of faith. Do this so that we will be an example of Your grace that might lead others to faith in You. Do this so that Christ can be lifted up and we can be used as tools in Your hand.


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Friday, September 08, 2006

that same old sin

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 20:1-18

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OBSERVATIONS:

Does this account sound familiar? If you've been following along with the story it should. Way back in Genesis 12 Abraham encountered almost the exactly same situation. Some people believe that because the accounts are so similar (the names are changed - and I don't believe it has anything to do with protecting the innocent) they must have either been the same circumstance, or at least one (or possibly both) of them didn't happen at all and for some reason was repeated twice by "mistake." I guess all of that is possible if you forget (or don't believe) that God divinely inspired this book. The possibility of a mistake of that kind is inconceivable in that context. We have to assume that both accounts happened - and in that scenario, it seems unbelievable that Abraham would make the exact same mistake of such great magnitude twice - especially after having lived in faith and having experienced the Lord to a greater degree since the last mistake of this type. But, that's what we find - the same old sin pattern, repeated again.

APPLICATION:

Does THAT sound familiar? Who of us has not had the struggle with a particular area of sin or lack of trust? It's the kind of thing that each time you do it (or fail to do it, depending on what it is) - you tell yourself, "I'm so sick of this - Lord, I'm never going to do that again!" But you know as well as I do that we typically DO wind up doing it again. It's a part of being a fallen human being that our redeemed heart (the one Christ has given us) really hates and rightly desires to battle against. Abraham seems to have had the same problem. There's a weird sort of comfort in knowing that we're in pretty good company in this struggle, don't you think?

Abraham's situation, the second time through, doesn't really give us any "answers" as to how we deal with this kind of thing effectively. It just tells the story of what happened. So what do we do with it? How do we benefit from it? I think the best we can do with a passage like this is to see what the steps or actions were that led Abraham into his mistake/misjudgement/sin and identify where those types of things are prone to happen in our lives. And, not surprisingly, Abraham had his own version of Lot's problem - overwhelming fear. Verse 11 tells us straight-up, "I said to myself, 'There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.'" Fear, once again - ruled the day.

I'm led to believe, with 3 days now of seeing how fear negatively impacted the faith of God's people, that it is more pervasive and prevalent in our lives than we know. We must cry out to God to reveal to us this blind spot of fear, and how to overcome it. It's often fear, in some regard, that compells us back into those "pet sins." Call it what you like, insecurity, timidity, selfishness, etc. - but in the end it is fear. It's a fear that God is not REALLY taking care of us, at least not like He SHOULD (in our minds). So we take charge and do it our way - and the results are painful and regrettable.

PRAYER

Father, reveal the places where we fear instead of trusting. Show us how prevalent it really is in our souls. Teach us how to rest in Your perfect love that drives out fear and instead teaches us to trust. It's YOUR character we need to rely on - and YOUR heart we need to know. Reveal that to us more and more.


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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Fear again - and a failure in Fathering

SCRIPTUREGenesis 19:30-38

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OBSERVATIONS:

I like that the Biblical writer took the time to let us in on what happened to Lot after escaping the city with his two daughters. Apparantly there was more lessons to be learned from this man's life.

The first thing I notice right off is how crazy fear can make you behave. Look at Lot - in the last passage he begged the angels to allow him to go to another town for fear that he'd be taken out in country or hills. Now he is fearful in the town so he runs off to a cave in the hills!

Then we come to the issue of what kind of father these girls had! The reason I'm approaching it that way is that first off, these two girls are motivated by the exact same thing Dad is - fear! They were afraid that there would not be another opportunity to have children since the cities were destroyed. That's understandable in a way, they probably didn't know how far-reaching the destruction was. They could have assumed that it extended across the known world. But the real issue again is their fear - they had learned from Dad (and probably mom too) that you obeyed your fear (not your thirst, as Spirit says). So they take matters into their own hands.

But another thing I notice immediately (you did too, I'm sure) is that they were incredibly immoral, or without morals to even consider an act like they did. Where did that come from? Well, for years Dad had kept the family in a context of immorality, probably going along with it to some extent. The girls took on the attitude of their culture - and it appears that mom and dad did little to prevent that.

It's true that these girls were older (engaged until recently) so they were responsible for making their own decisions. But the character of a person is determined in large part by the way they are raised. The values and wisdom poured into them by their parents largely dictate the way they view and handle the circumstances of life. It looks like there was a colossal failure in parenting in this case.

APPLICATION:

Fear is a wicked and confusing tyrant to follow. It pushes and pulls us in all directions without much rhyme or reason - other than what we are feeling at the moment. How does that square with the admonition of scripture? Not at all. We are encouraged to live by faith, not fear. Trust in God (His character and Person) is to be the over-arching characteristic of the way we live life.

It's possible that you think this is for "other people" to examine - that you don't live in a way that is powerfully motivatated by fear. But look a bit deeper and you may find some red flags in this regard. Do you find yourself worrying about finances, the economy, the political system, your children, your health? Do you feel compelled to control your world in most any way you can - so that way it's predictable and safe? What about the issues from the past that haunt you? Are you willing to face them honestly, to take on the monsters that lurk there head on? All of these questions (and many more) can help us identify the areas of fear that have influence in our lives.

Then comes the failure in Lot's life regarding his children. Man, how many lessons can we find here? First off, I feel the need to say this... as a parent, YOU are responsible to notice and address the areas of weakness and need you see in your children. That's part of your role. Now I'm not saying you become overly critical and difficult to please, but I am saying that you are proactive in helping your children form their character into that of Christ (in the power of the Spirit, of course). We can't allow ourselves to believe that "they are just that way..." or some other such nonsense. It's our job as parents to lovingly make them aware of their areas of duplicity, greed, selfishness, etc. and to teach them how to live differently and to submit their lives to God's will. But, you probably figured out, that requires that we are doing the same in our own lives. But don't let that be a reason to hold of - "Who am I to tell them how to live - I'm such a failure myself..." Who are you? You are their parent! You are God's chosen and appointed tool to fashion them into His likeness. You don't have the option of not doing that. If there's a mess in your life, then begin addresssing it - but don't let it be an excuse to do nothing.

And we have to at least mention this too... the context we allow in our homes, in the lives we lead has a HUGE impact on our kids. They begin to believe that what YOU allow as a parent is what THEY should allow in their own lives. It pertains to movies, TV shows, music, jokes you tell, etc. They will mimic you to the "T." Just look at Lot's daugters if you want a case study. So, take the time to examine what you are communicating to your kids via what you do (as opposed to what you say).

PRAYER:

Father, there is too much at stake for us to miss these lessons. First off, fear in our lives is nothing but a destroyer. It causes us to scramble and scrape for our own preservation, often doing wrong in the process - and it dishonors You all the while. Teach us faith in place of fear. Show us specifically where we need that correction and give us the strength to pull it off by Your Spirit.

And our children are too precious for us to keep messing this one up. We don't want to be responsible for contributing to sickly and warped character in the ones we love the most. So, reveal our blind spots and prompt us to correct them. Show us where to get help in doing that. And please, come alongside us in taking our children deep into Your embrace so that they can become the people YOU have in mind for them to be.


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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Your faith matters to others

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 19:27-29

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OBSERVATIONS:

I remember the first time, quite distinctly, when the main point of this passage hit me. I was living in Colorado, married with one son. It had been a rough time in my life for many reasons, and I had been studying through the life of Abraham for the strength it could provide me. That's when I saw it. Right there on the page, in the midst of the account of distruction and judgement. I saw "why" God had spared Lot - and it had nothing to do with Lot.

God spared Lot from the fate he probably deserved because of Abraham. Read it for yourself in verse 29. "So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived."

THAT is truly remarkable! God protected and delivered Lot because of the life of his uncle - a man who was faithfully learning to walk with the Lord himself. Lot lived miles away. They seldom communicated. Abraham's life had not impacted Lot for a long time. Nevertheless, Abraham's life was a blessing to Lot.

APPLICATION:

Who's life is blessed because of YOUR life? Anyone? It's easier to recognize in those who live with you - your spouse, your children. You see how your work, your presence, etc. benefit them directly. But what about those you've been in contact with over the years? Does your life impact them at all - even if you don't communicate?

Do you carry on day to day in a relationship with God that is so intimate and real that the blessings of that spill over onto other people? Do you spend time in prayer, seeking God on their behalf (maybe that's what Abraham did - we don't know)?

Don't underestimate the impact of one faithful life... Lot's deliverance from the cities of the plain is testimony to the fact that it does matter...

PRAYER:

Remind us again and again and again how much impact our lives can have - even on those who are not nearby. Recall to us that the way the spiritual realm and it's effects work is nothing like what we are used to seeing. Make us into "people blessers" through the way we live and carry on relationship with You.


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until then...

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 19:12-26

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OBSERVATIONS:

Again, we see Lot, in an hour that is definitely not his finest. His fear is continuing to motivate him - and his self-interest is so evident that it's hard to stomach.

Though he's repeatedly warned to hurry, to gather his loved ones and get out of the city - he seems to dawdle and hesitate. I get the feeling that he was too attached to the city, that it's allure on him was total.

I've heard many a preacher demon-ize Lot's wife for looking back - saying that it was a lack of faith, or evidence of heart that was "obviously" attached to the sensual and evil practices of the city - and she had to look one last, longing time. I don't think all those suppositions are warranted. All we know is that she looked back (we don't know the motive in her heart) and that she forfeited her life because of it.

APPLICATION:

This one is a bit harder to apply. So much happens but little is said in terms of interpretation of the actions we see take place. God's judgement was swift and sure - we can be confident of that too. When the time comes, the evil in our day will be dealt with also. But the very fact that Lot and his family are scampering away from the city is evidence aplenty that God was compassionate. I see no reason why Lot shouldn't have shared in the fate of those in the cities - but nevertheless, God had compassion. We'll find out more about the true reason for that in our next section...

PRAYER:

Father, give us patience, to wait on You to bring judgement when it is due. Until that point - give us compassion. May our hearts go out to those who are floundering about in the world with no sense of value or direction or hope. Grant us the conviction to act and the ability to act in compassion toward what we see in the people You've put in our lives.


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When fear takes over

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 19:1-11

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OBSERVATIONS:

Lot never ceases to amaze me - and not in a good way. I'm floored by his callous and self-protective bent. Remember when Abraham graciously gave him the pick of the land back in chapter 13? (read it here) Without regard for Abraham's generosity, Lot picked the best and left Abraham with the rest. Here, we see his self-protective bent in an even uglier light.

It seems that when these men (the Lord) come into the city there is something about them that Lot recognizes as different. I wonder if he really knew who they were, and if so, was he trying to fool them into thinking he was something he was not by being so hospitable? I mean, he was pretty insistent.

Then come the men of the city - banging on Lot's door to get at the men who have come into his home - for sexual purposes. Lot won't allow it (my first tendency was to say, "Way to go, Lot!") - that is , until I read on. Instead of giving over the men, he offers his own virgin daughters to the men to placate them. His words stuck my father's heart, "you can do whatever you like with them..." What a measly coward and rotten bum Lot was (I want to cuss at him, I'm so mad)!

APPLICATION:

Fear can be a very powerful motivator. I think here Lot was afraid of God - and what would happen to him if he allowed the men of the city to have their way. There's nothing wrong with fearing God - in fact there is a ton right with it. But he allowed his fear (self-protection) to move him to a dispicable consideration - allowing the mob to have his virgin daughters. Can you imagine how the daughters would have felt to hear such a thing spoken by their own father? Can you see how calloused and evil the heart can become when we allow it to be focused so fully on self?

I'm sure nobody reading this has done something this heinous - offering your children to an angry and perverted mob of men. But what DOES your self-protective, fearfully timid heart compel you to do in your weaker moments? Where does faith go when those times come? Many people deny their deepest-held principles, or their most valued things all because of fear. And I know, from my own experience, what a shameful thing that is in retrospect. When you do that - it changes you forever. The Lord uses it to deal iwth the fear in you in a very decisive way.

But what are your fears? What do they motivate you to do? Where is your faith in God when those fears arise and begin to taunt you? What can you do to overcome them and trust God no matter how you feel?

PRAYER

Father, we MUST have Your help in this. Fear is a monster that haunts us all - and we can't deny that it is. Please give us a bigger fear of You than our fear of whatever else may befall us. Show us Your ability and glory and the love You have for us that will never fail. Help us Lord, we must have You to help us...


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God's great compassion

SCRIPTURE:

all

OBSERVATIONS:

I love what this passage shows about God's compassion. Abraham is informed by God that the cities where his nephew Lot lives are about to be destroyed because of their wickedness. So, he begins what appears on the surface to be a "bartering" exchange with God. He keeps asking God these questions, trying to find out what the limits are to God's mercy and tolerance of sin. The picture we get from the exchange is clear. God would spare the city His judgement if only 10 people in it were considered "righteous."

Now we know from the New Testament that nobody is really "righteous" in God's sight (check this scripture). So what was God talking about here? Well, Abraham was considered righteous back in chapter 15 (see it here). What was the criteria for that standing with God? His faith. So I think it would be safe to translate this also as God saying, "If there are only 10 people in the city whose hearts truly trust Me, then I will spare the city." It's obvious, because God was already moving in judgement on the city - that there weren't even that many who trusted Him.

I see also that God is amazingly compassionate. Many people look at times of judgement like this one and think, "I thought God was supposed to be loving!" But look at the situation in reality - He is willing to hold back His judgement for the sake of 10 people... not very many out of the population of two cities! His compassion and long-suffering are truly huge! But a point does come where even God has to judge - judgement is another equally valid expression of His holiness. But because we are typically on the sinful end of things - we don't like His judgement because it MUST be leveled in our direction...

APPLICATION:

What do we gather from this account? Well, Lot seems to have gone into a terrible place to live and the place impacted him rather than the other way around. We'll find out in a few days that Lot had a wife, 2 daughters, and 2 sons-in-law. You'd think there would have been at least some influence on them through Lot's life - but there doesn't seem to be. His daughters even prove to be pretty devoid of faith themselves.

So - where is YOUR faith? Where is mine? Is it REALLY in God alone? What about the crunch times, when things are hard? What about the good times, when everything is going our way? Do we trust Him rather than in His blessings? Examine your own faith in light of these questions.

In addition - is God's mercy reflected in us like it was in Abraham? You can almost hear the pleading in his voice as he thought about his nephew (though I suspect Abraham knew that Lot wasn't living right - or right with the Lord). Some of that has to do with the familial connection they shared - but if that were the only reason, why did he start by asking about 50 instead of just the 6 he knew of? I think Abraham was concerned for the city overall. They were neighbors, no matter how wicked they had become...

PRAYER:

Lord, teach us more and more how to trust You... and I realize that is asking to be put in some difficult places. But You are our good Father and I trust You to do exactly what we need. We also need more compassion in our lives... teach us that as well.


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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

CRAZY WEEK

SORRY, BUT THIS WEEK HAS TURNED SOUTH REALLY QUICKLY (IN TERMS OF MY SCHEDULE). THE BLOG IS GOING TO HAVE TO BE THE THING THAT GOES FOR NOW. I'LL RESUME TOMORROW...


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Saturday, September 02, 2006

the process of learning trust

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 18:1-15

all

OBSERVATIONS:

I love this passage and the next one. They are such cool accounts of one of the times God dealt with Abraham personally. Let's walk through it.

The first sentence is just a summary of the entire encounter. Then it goes on to tell the details of how it all took place.

The impression it gives when describing the appearance of the 3 visitors is that somehow Abraham knew they were from God in some way. His response to their presence is unusual. A man of Abraham's place in the culture would not typically bow to visitors who came to his camp. Also, he calls them "Lord" and refers to himself as "your servant." While these could be terms of humility and honor to the other person, they too were not commonly used by a person of Abraham's stature. Anyway, he persuades them to stay.

He prepares a meal for them, they eat, and then they reveal more about their purpose there. Verse 9 shows us for sure that they are not typical men. They know Sarah's name (her new one that not many people would have known by then). Then they give him a detail about the promise God has already given him. In a year's time Sarah will give birth to the promised son.

Sarah laughed. Maybe she didn't realize who they were. Maybe she was laughing in the amazed disbelief of a promise that seems too good to be true. Maybe she was outright skeptical. But her laugh does not escape their notice even though she was inside the tent and they were outside. It seemed unbelievable to her. It seems like when they confront her laughter, she realizes who they really are. She lies and says that she didn't laugh (but if she really knew who they were, she would know that lying wouldn't work - interesting, isn't it?).

APPLICATION:

I don't think God really minds our skepticism, as long as it does't remain. He knows how we are, the way that life and our own bad habits have formed us into people who don't believe and don't trust Him. That's what the walk of faith is all about - LEARNING to trust.

To me, that's where the heart-check has to come. We have to push ourselves to intentionally move beyond our skepticism, beyond our unbelief. We have to put ourselves in places where we can learn to trust God - and many times that means getting into situations that are way over our heads. But the lesson we need to learn is that nothing is over God's head. We won't see that (normally) when we are comfy cozy. It takes risk... which brings faith as we see God come through. Now, don't hear me saying you should be reckless and go out "testing" God (like jumping off your roof in faith that He'll not let you fall). We are not to test the Lord in that way, because it typically comes from a heart of skepticism. But to respond in faith when you believe He is guiding you in a specific direction sometimes (lots of times) will require risk (in our eyes). That's where we have to push ourselves - to obey what we think God is saying, even when it doesn't make sense...

PRAYER

Like the man with the son who was ill, we pray, "Help our unbelief..." We need Your grace to believe at all...


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Friday, September 01, 2006

the kind of obedience that matters

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 17:23-27

all

OBSERVATIONS:

The first phrase that sticks out to me is "as God told him." Abraham didn't waste any time in obeying. He seems to have always been that way whenever he knew what to do. He wanted to please God. Imagine the cost of his obedience in this case. Typically circumcision is done when a child is so young because it has the least detrimental effect then. But, when it is done at older ages, it can be very painful in the healing process and even cause a feverish feeling to come over the person who had it done. In Abraham's case, he had every male in his camp get circumcised (slowed down the work in the camp, etc.). And Abraham himself was 99 years old - quite a step of faith for an old man!

APPLICATION:

A maxim that I was taught when I first had children, and which has both served me well and reverberated in my mind over and over is this: "Delayed obedience is not obedience." Though I can see that God, in His grace, may allow for some processing time for us when He asks us to obey Him - I think the statement is generally true. When we are given a task by God and we delay - for whatever reason - we are not obeying, especially for that time when we are delaying.

Why is it that we sometimes delay when we are given a task by God? I can think of a few reasons...

  • We are afraid - which, at the root, means we don't trust God in that situatuion. Does that hurt? Examine your own situations and you'll see that it's likely true...
  • We are too used to taking care of ourselves - which, at the root, is independence from God. It's being the lord of our own lives and wellfare instead of trusting the Lord.
  • We are selfish - which basically means that we want what we want, not what God wants. There's a rebellion there that is dangerous when that is the case.

Examine your situations and your heart - and see what you come up with...

PRAYER

Father, teach us to trust You. Teach us to rely on You and not ourselves. And show us where we are in outright rebellion against You.


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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Specific details make all the difference

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 17:15-22

all

OBSERVATIONS:

This passage is where it all begins to come together for Abraham. God's told him for a long time that he was going to receive the blessing of a son, from his own body (even though he's very old). But now God comes along with details that make all the difference. Surely Abraham looked back at the steps he and Sarai had made to "help" God fulfill His promise - through Hagar. And now that God tells him that His intention all along was to use Sarai to bring the son into the world, he must have felt pretty dumb...even though he had come to love Ishmael completely.

But notice the way he responds at first. He begs for God to bless Ishmael. A father's love is a strong thing and much of this could be attributed to that. But also I see a bit of a problem here... he's asking God to bless the things he did in his own strength, without faith, without dependence on God. He's clinging to what he already has instead of receiving fully what God has for him.

God's promise was to be fulfilled through this new son, Isaac. And God, in characteristic fashion blesses Ishmael too, for Abraham's sake. But His covenant, His solemn agreement will be with Isaac, not Ishmael. God is the One who gets to decide how His best plans will be carried out, and who will be the one to carry it out.

APPLICATION

Abraham's story is one of my favorites because I can relate to it in almost every sense.

  • I too often receive God's blessing reluctantly because I'm so attached to what I already have -the work of my own hands in some cases.
  • I too am often embarrassed when I see God's plan in comparison to mine. His is always better - and I've almost always acted presumptuously and done things my way somewhere along the line.
  • And Like Abraham I laugh with unbelief, disbelief, or something in between when God's goodness shows up in my life.

What are you holding on to? Are you in a place where you can let go of what is so important to you and by doing so allow yourself to be open to the plans of God?

PRAYER

Father, every day when we go through these passages, I find something that points to my own short-sightedness and inability to really call the shots. I find more evidence of improvements that are needed in me. And honestly, it can be very overwhelming. How do I keep them all straight and actually DO something about them? I guess I have to trust You to guide me in that. Move me toward addressing the most important ones. Lead me in what is truly important...


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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

"Signs"

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 17:9-14

Entire passage

OBSERVATIONS:

Today’s passage leads us into the place in Abraham’s journey with God where he’s introduced to the practice of circumcision. I have to admit that for many years this whole idea of circumcision for the Jewish people was a difficult thing for me to grasp. Not that I didn’t understand what it was, but rather that I didn’t get “why” it was so important. After all, in our day, for totally different reasons most men in our culture are circumcised. That seems to have added to the dilemma…

So, let’s just start at the beginning and walk through it. Remember the setting – God has come to Abram, has changed his name to Abraham (“father of many” is a good translation) and is expanding upon His promises to Abraham. Everything He’s doing in this encounter is for the sake of clarifying and solidifying the covenant between them. God Himself initiated this entire thing and is now fleshing it out.

Previously, we’ve only seen God’s responsibilities in the covenant. It was very one-sided. Now He gives Abraham a responsibility, a thing he is to make sure happens in himself and his descendants in order to keep their side of the agreement. Their responsibility? Circumcision.

Look carefully at what God says about it – “You are to undergo circumcision and it will be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 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 your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.” OK, let’s walk through it…

  1. Circumcision was to be a “sign” of the agreement they were making together. A sign for who? It couldn’t have been the surrounding groups of people – when would THEY ever see that the men were circumcised? It had to be a sign for THEM, the Jewish people. Every time a man urinated, every time he and his wife were intimate, every time they changed their clothes they would be reminded by this physical “sign” that they served God and were promised to be blessed by Him. A covenant “sign” is a reminder for those involved in the covenant. It was the same with the rainbow after the flood (read it here). The sign was to remind Noah of God’s promise never to destroy the world with water again.
  2. The sign of the covenant was an important thing to God. So important that anyone refusing to have it applied to them would be separated from the nation of Israel. That’s pretty serious.
  3. It’s interesting to me that all the people had to do was to have a small operation. God was the one who was on the hook to do all the heavy stuff.

APPLICATION:

So, what is the application today? Are we to have “covenant checkers” who go around checking to see if the men among us are circumcised? No, this was for Abraham and his physical descendants… it had to do with the specific covenant that he had with God. We are not a part of that agreement today (unless we are Jewish people too – remember, it was an “eternal” covenant).

But we ARE participants in a different covenant, one that the New Testament (which means, “new covenant” by the way) calls a “new covenant.” Jesus Himself used those words to describe it. It’s a covenant based upon Jesus’ work on our behalf. The agreement we have with God is this – “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” Our part is to believe in Jesus. God’s part is to give us everlasting life. Again, He’s doing all the heavy work.

Interestingly, we have a “sign” of our covenant with God too. Can you think what it is? Baptism. It is for us what circumcision was for Abraham and his descendants. It’s what we are instructed to do after entering into God’s covenant (through our belief in Christ) to DEMONSTRATE that the covenant is in force. And if you think about it carefully, you’ll probably agree that like circumcision, it’s a sign for us more than it is for those around us. It is a reminder, a memory we have of the time in life when we received God’s gift of the new covenant through Jesus. It’s not as heavy-handed as circumcision (being “cut off” from the rest of the church if we don’t do it) – but I believe serves the exact same purpose.

Many (Christians) believe that baptism corresponds to circumcision so strongly that they insist that by baptizing our children (as Abraham was instructed to circumcise his descendants at a very young age), we will be passing along the covenant benefits to them until such a time as they are able to enter into the covenant with God of their own free will. I know of very few of the people who hold to this view who would say that by doing so the child’s eternal salvation is being guaranteed. It’s just the same as in Abraham’s case – circumcision didn’t guarantee that they would be right with God (that would depend on their own faith, or lack of faith in Him), it just showed that they were part of the group that God originally made the covenant with.

I understand the logic behind this viewpoint. In some ways, it makes total sense to me and I’m tempted to adopt a new policy of baptizing children as a sign of the new covenant in their family… BUT the main problem I see with it is that the scriptures that talk about baptism NEVER mention children being baptized specifically, like this passage does regarding circumcision. In fact, baptism is presented as an action that a person does immediately after believing in Christ (receiving Him as Savior / repenting / getting saved, etc.). If a child has not made that decision for him or herself, then baptism will have no meaning for them. It will be a symbol that represents something that has nothing whatsoever to do with them – yet. We have to be careful to examine ALL that the Bible says about an issue before we jump to a conclusion that will effect the practice of our faith. When we don’t’ we put together theologies and practices that misconstrue our intentions and cloud our vision as to what faith in Christ and the living of the Christian faith are really all about.

Why is this an important issue? Because many tragedies and abuses spring out of issues like this. I’ll give some examples.

  • I’ve known of many adults who feel that they don’t need to trust in Christ at all because they were baptized when they were an infant. Granted, they weren’t educated properly about what the true intention of the baptism was supposed to be (a sign of their parent’s faith in God, to be established in their life later when they are able to choose into it themselves) – but nevertheless, the practice easily lent itself to misunderstanding. We have to understand that. Religious rituals and symbols have significant power in people’s lives. I think that’s part of why God implemented “signs” and symbols in the first place. He knows that they stick with us longer than the academic belief itself. Communion is another of those signs, those markers of remembrance. For many people, communion – because it is tangible and symbolic of something deeper – is a great time of intimacy with God. But it too can be and has been misconstrued to mean things that it does not. Some people even believe that by partaking in communion they are made right with God. But that’s not its intention. My question is this, Why put any potential stumbling block or barrier in the way of people in regards to their relationship with God being genuine or not? If infant baptism clouds the real issue of what truly puts a person into the new covenant with God (which it almost always does) then why practice it when it is not specifically addressed in scripture?
  • Many cultic religious groups will focus too intently on an Old Testament passage such as this and make their beliefs about it a major distinctive of their religious practices. It becomes a dividing area – a place that sets them apart from everyone else. It could be circumcision, dietary laws, what day to worship on, etc. That’s OK, if it is consistent with the continued revelation of scripture (Old and New Testaments). But when it’s not (which is often the case) it becomes a barrier to understanding true faith in Christ and the new covenant that Jesus came to establish between God and men. Keep this in mind – one of the major tip-offs as to whether a group is a cult or not has to do with their view of grace. If there are specific “rules” or practices they have to keep in order to be “right” with God, then they are twisting the new covenant – because it is an agreement between God and mankind based on what Christ has done, not on what we can do. Any group that twists that understanding through the implementation of rules in order to please God is a bonefide cult.

So, I don’t believe we should be practicing infant baptism. But I heartily believe that “believer’s baptism” is supported and even commanded in scripture as a first step of obedience to God within the new covenant.

PRAYER

Father make us wise – give us Your Spirit’s direction and guidance on issues such as these. And make us aware of the importance of the symbols and signs You’ve given us as believers in Christ. Enable us to look back on our own baptisms as markers, signs of what You did at that specific point in our lives. Show us anew how much You love us, and use our obedience in baptism to reiterate that fact over and over in our lives.


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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

BLOGGER FORMAT PROBLEMS

My apologies on behalf of Blogger, our blog host. They are having some pretty serious issues with formatting the pages, hence you are getting everything crammed together instead of spaced like I actually created it to be. Not really my fault, but wanted you to know I'm aware of it and am trying to figure out a "workaround" for the issue...


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Abraham - the "new" model

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 17:1-8

Entire passage

OBSERVATIONS:

Look at the amount of time that has passed. Last passage, Ishmael was born to Abram when he was 86 years old (read it here). Now, he’s 99. 14 years have passed. In a natural sense, we every one would have given up hope that the “promised child” would indeed arrive. But God had not forgotten His promise to Abram and arrived to seal the deal.

God’s appearance to Abram seems to have been specifically for the purpose of confirming His covenant (vs. 2). He came to bring the fulfillment of the promise He had given of a son. We’ll see as we delve into this encounter more this week, God has some very specific things to tell Abram, things that will alter the course of his thinking about himself, his wife, God, and the future.

But, we also must notice and consider that God changes his name. No longer is He to be Abram, which means exalted father. That’s a name that anyone could have, whether they had children or not. It’s a title of honor or respect, not necessarily one having to do with offspring. But the new name, Abraham, means father of many. Now that’s unmistakable. God is changing his very identity based on the promises He is giving.

Abraham is again hearing God expound upon His promises, and they seem outlandish to a man who is 99 years old and has no children. He “will be very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you.” Amazing.

And notice also, here is where the idea of the Jewish people becoming God’s “chosen people” originates – in God’s promise to Abraham. God says to him, “I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.” It’s a step of initiative on God’s part to make the Jewish people (who came from Abraham’s line – through Isaac, the promised son) His own. But more importantly, He became their God. It’s a distinctive that sadly they abandoned many times in their existence as a nation.

Also notice this, God says, “The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” This is the basis for the nation of Israel, the Jewish people, to inhabit and own the entire region of Palestine. God has promised it and has established it on their behalf as their own possession. Though the political opinions and happenings of the day dispute their claim on some fronts, God has determined that the land there belongs to His people, Israel. He will see that it comes about. Personally, I’d not want to be on the side that was fighting against Israel…

APPLICATION

What do we take from this today? There are quite a few things, some simple, some profound…

  1. God can do anything – no limitations, physical or otherwise can stop Him. Even old age is no barrier to a man having a child when God is in it. Our job is to search the scriptures, be in constant prayer, and be on the hunt for the answer to this question as we face life’s decisions – “Is God in it?”
  2. God’s view of His people is typically much larger than their view of themselves. We can’t out-dream God. He had a future in mind for Abram as Abraham – greater to the very core of his identity. How do we see ourselves in God’s plans? Are we diminishing our view of what He may want for us? Are we running from it in fear or welcoming it in faith?
  3. Though mankind has twisted and contorted the issues involved, Israel – as secular as she has become – is still the recipient of His eternal covenant, mentioned here. Why? Because God cannot be untrue to His own word. An eternal covenant is just that. History will show in the end that God Himself was faithful to that promise.

PRAYER

Father, give us grander visions of what You have in mind for us as Your children. Open our eyes to see ourselves in truth – the way You do. Show us where we should recognize our “new name” – our place of prosperity for Your sake. Show us how to make ourselves more available for You to do those things in us and through us.


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Monday, August 28, 2006

The God who hears and sees

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 16:7-1

Entire passage (including the previous verse - #6)

OBSERVATIONS:

I failed to comment yesterday on verse 6. It seems pretty harsh to us that Sarai would mistreat Hagar so badly that she would run away. And... honestly, it was pretty harsh. I've always struggled with Abram's character here. To me, he should have sat Sarai down and told her, "Look, I know Hagar is not easy to live with right now, and she is surely not treating you the way she should. But this decision was OUR decision and we are going to have to live with the consequences that it brings." But, he didn't do that. Instead he advised Sarai, in the midst of her emotional offense, to make whatever decision she wanted to make. And her decision was to mistreat Hagar and eventually drive her away.

But as Hagar is off in the desert, crying, and God hears here and comes to her (through His angel). Did that surprise you at all? God came to the servant, the one who was not His chosen one (meaning Abram). He cares for the "little guy" too. And on top of that, He gives HER a promise of a long line of descendants, just like He had given to Abram. He gives her a specific name for her unborn son - Ishmael - which means "God hears." And He goes on to tell her about her son, what he will be like and the type of life he will lead. And what God says has proven to be true. Everyone's hand has been against his descendants and they have lived in hostility toward their brothers (the Jewish people who were to descend from Abram as well, through his son Isaac).

She obeys and returns, giving Abram his first-born son. Abram agrees to the name "Ishmael" and we can safely assume that she told him the entire story. Notice also Abram's age when Ishmael was born...86 years old.

APPLICATION:

First, I am humbled to see that even Abram had weakness in the way he related to his wife. This has been an ongoing area of growth for me - one which the Lord has been so faithful to help me with over the years. I'm learning how to guide my wife in a constructive, helpful, and Godly way when she is out of sorts or upset about something - rather than backing down to keep the waters calm (as I used to do). It took me a very long time and some very painful results of my silence to learn begin seeing the problem at all. Being a leader in the home is not for the weak-minded or timid. The families that God has given us are too precious for that to be the case.

I also see immediately that God cares for all people - those He has specifically called and even those who are victims of those He has specifically called. His mercy and compassion is great toward all. In this instance He went out of His way, made the special effort, to meet with Hagar and comfort and guide her. Of course, He had a greater purpose behind it all, but nevertheless, His ability to comfort and help those in need is illustrated plainly. How helpful it is for us to remember this... when things are not going well, when we feel abandoned, when our hope is gone. He is there - as He was for Hagar. He is the God who hears and the God who sees.

PRAYER

Father, thank You for hearing and for seeing me. In my distress and in my joy You have proven Yourself to be so faithful, helpful, and near. Continue to grow that faith Lord. I need to see more and more of You.


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Figuring out how to walk in faith...

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 16:1-6

Entire passage

OBSERVATIONS:
Marital conflict. What a pain, but what a common part of life. The conflict we typically experience isn’t usually caused by the kind of thing that happened between Abram and Sarai though. But like happens to us sometimes, their conflict flowed out of a bad choice they made. The custom described here (taking a servant to raise up a family for the Master) was a very accepted and normal thing in their day. We look at it initially and say, "Oh my goodness! How could they even THINK of something like that!???" But you have to realize that this was a very accepted cultural practice in their day. Nobody would have looked down on them for doing it. In fact, many would say, "Well it’s about time you did something about that!" But, accepted in the culture or not – this was the biggest mistake of Abram’s life – no doubt. There is a wide range of opinion about why he did what he did and whether his real sin was in taking Hagar into his bed or in listening to his wife’s counsel. In my opinion, those are distractions from the real issue. The most important thing he failed to do here, in my opinion, is that he failed to rely on God to meet the need of a descendant. God had already promised him an heir, one from his own body (see the passage here – see the blog for that day here). So, he had something specific to fuel his faith. But, lest I be too hard on Abe, I can see how this may have seemed like the right thing, even given what God had promised. Since this practice was so accepted culturally, it would have been understandable for him to think, "Yes, Sarai is right. THIS is how God was planning on providing an heir for me – one of my own body! I see it now! It’s so simple…" But as we know from hindsight, that’s not at all what God intended. His choice has impacted the world from that day until this. The conflicts in the middle east continually remind us of this (the son he would have by Hagar is the father of the Arab nations). APPLICATION: I’m amazed at our capacity as human beings to take what God has said and to squeeze it into our mold of understanding. In a way, we can’t be expected to do much else – from a human perspective. But through the life of faith so much more is possible. Abram made a mistake, a mis-call, a wrong judgement because he was looking only through human eyes at his situation. I’m sure there was panic and fear still about where his heir would come from. It'’ difficult to tell completely what motivates us to take the "safe" way instead of staking all on God, come hell or high water. We are afraid of hell and we are afraid of high water. Fear can be a BIG motivator in our lives… Don’t hear me saying I’ve got this one down – it’s far from the truth if you think that. I too want to be free of fear and even more so, free of self-interest when it comes to making choices based on what I believe God to have said. Some general rules, that I don’t always follow due to my own selfishness (true confession time), have helped me in the past.

  1. When in doubt about what God is saying – WAIT if at all possible. I have to be careful here because I can easily convince myself that I CAN’T wait when I really could. I believe that God makes things clear if we will trust Him enough to wait. What would have happened if Abram would have had a principle like this to guide him?
  2. Don’t try to figure out what God is doing from your limited perspective. His scope is so much greater than ours, we can’t possibly see the events unfolding as He does. That’s part of why the waiting is so important. Though circumstances can figure into His leading, they are not the main gauge of it.
  3. Be aware of your own tendency to "color" things toward what you are hoping for rather than being fully submitted to what God wants – even if that isn’t what you would prefer. Our subtle but powerful self-centered desires can lead us astray faster than we realize.
PRAYER Father, our hearts are deceitfully wicked - so much so that we fool ourselves into thinking we are following You when in fact, we are way off course. I am grateful that You are faithful to teach us… faithful to guide us – and patient with us in the process. But please, enlarge our capacity for knowing You – for living according to Your vision instead of our own. Help us to step out in the face of fear to trust You – even when we don’t see hope in sight. You are good and Your promises to us CAN be trusted…


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CATCHING UP

Beginning last weekend (though I didn't tell anyone) - I began trying to "make up" for the posts that I miss on Saturdays, due to my personal day off. I've come to realize that even for myself the train of thought is disrupted too much when I skip that day's blog passage. So - I'm going to attempt on Mondays to do the extra work to make sure that those day's passages are at least commented on a bit. But, you'll forgive me if I DO actually miss it a time or two - you know how Mondays can be...


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Our very faithful God

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 15:7-21 Entire passage OBSERVATIONS: Continuing Abram’s encounter with God, we find some very strange things that happen – that will need a bit of explanation. God begins in verse 7 by telling Abram more about Himself, about the plans and intentions He has toward Abram and his descendants. First, He reminds Abram that He’s already taken him far from where he started and has promised to give him all the land. But Abram (like us) is still not sure, in spite of what God has already done. Abram asks for a proof of some kind. "How can I know – for sure – that I will actually take possession of it?" It sounds like a pretty good questions – but clearly one that is prompted by doubt and fear. God’s answer is the part that will need some clarification… God tells him to perform a ritual that was common in their day. It’s a thing that would be done at the conclusion of negotiations – to confirm that each party involved was committing to his part of the deal that had been struck. Abram gathers animals at God’s direction and prepares them according to the prescribed custom for this type of ceremony. In the end, he cuts the animals in two – and puts them in two rows, with a sort of "path" down the middle of them. While he waits on the Lord to do whatever He has in mind – a "deep sleep" and a "thick and dreadful darkness" came over him. My assumption is that the Lord did this to him, to take him to a place in his consciousness that he could better receive what the Lord had to tell him. In that state, the Lord reveals something to him about the future. It’s actually a prophecy about the days far in the future, having to do with the land of Egypt and the slavery of the Israelites there. Read God’s words to Abram very carefully – you’ll see that every word of it came true in the Exodus account. But Abram was not to be included in the lot of those God prophesied about. Abram would live long and die peacefully. Then, the significance of what Abram did with the animals comes into play. Two things appear, a smoking firepot and a blazing torch. These two symbolized the very presence of God. Remember that fire often represents God’s holiness and presence. These two pass between the two rows of animal parts and the Lord makes a covenant (agreement/promise) with Abram. What typically would happen is that the two who were entering an agreement together would each walk, in turn, between the pieces of meat that had been divided. In doing so they were making an oath (a maledictory oath, technically). What they were saying was, "May it be done to me as is done to these animals if I do not keep my end of this bargain." Knowing that, it’s significant to see that only God "passed" between the pieces of dead animals. Abram did not. God was making Abram a promise, a guarantee in a way that Abram would have understood as being the most binding and serious of promises. APPLICATION I’m blown away by the character of our God. He takes the initiative to come to us in the first place, and He is the one who makes worlds of promises to us. He is the one who puts Himself on the line as the one to keep His word. That’s what He did here for Abram, and that’s what He has done for us in sending Jesus to be our Savior. God’s grace and love toward us is unsurpassed. I also see an amazing thing in that God wasn’t put off by Abram’s doubt or fear. He didn’t chide Abram into submission or ridicule him because he was such a spiritual baby. He took the time and used the opportunity of Abram’s doubt to make the seriousness of His intentions toward Abram known. And it’s important to noticed that God did it in a way that Abram would understand. God is not afraid of our doubts or offended by them. I think He actually understands them. He just doesn’t want us to stay in those doubts forever. What can we do today to better see Him as our God, who cares for us even when we doubt and takes the steps of reassuring us that we need at the moment? Do you have doubts you are struggling with? Ask Him to help you – to give you His answer for your doubting faith at this time. PRAYER My Father, thank You for not being offended by my doubt. I have plenty of doubt and it seems to go in cycles. But I am grateful that You want to answer my doubts instead of leaving me to float about in them with no assurance of Your love or purpose for my life. You are a very gracious God.


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Friday, August 25, 2006

Worry Vs Trust

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 15:1-6 Entire passage OBSERVATIONS: Abram gets home from his rescue of Lot (I’m sure Sarai was relieved to see him alive) , and some time later the Lord gives him a vision. What exactly is a vision. We hear the word used a lot in our day, but not in this way. We understand that vision is a positive outlook toward the future – a dream of what we want to see take place. Companies, businesses, and churches are all encouraged today to have a vision. I guess that’s kind of similar to what Abram experiences, but it’s not the same at all in other ways. The kind of vision Abram had is more akin to a dream. It’s an event that happens where he sees something, hears something, receives something from God when he’s not in control of it. It’s different than a conversation in that it is very experiential, as if Abram was really doing things with God (and I believe that he was) – but not fully in the realm of consciousness. Does that make sense? I believe when God gives a vision it is as "real" as everyday life, only it occurs in a realm of the spiritual, the state that is behind our everyday life, but unseen usually. God speaks to Abram, and once again He expands on the promises He’s already given. "Do not be afraid,, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward." I wonder what was going on in Abram’s mind or in his world that would cause God to say something like this to him… was he being fearful? Was he worrying? It seems from his response to God that there was indeed a specific thing that was on his mind. More on that in a moment. First let’s look at what God just said to him – "I am your shield," – that’s a promise of protection. When Almighty God has promised to be your protection, what more do you need? "your very great reward." – that’s a promise of blessing and good outcome for Abram. God is taking the initiative to put Himself in Abram’s corner. Who wouldn’t want that, given what we know about God? Abram’s response reveals where his thoughts have been, "O Sovereign Lord, what can You give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?…You have given me no children; so a servant in my house will be my heir." At least he was honest. He’s worried about his future, about the family that he was promised by God long ago. He still has no children…so where is this great number of descendants God promised going to come from? (By the way, Abram’s response is the first time in scripture where God is referred to as "sovereign.") God responds – "This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir." Then he takes him star-gazing to show him that his descendants will be a numerous as the stars. Notice what God said – and what He didn’t say. He told Abram that his descendant would be his own biological child. But He didn’t say anything about Sarai. The only reason I make that distinction is because in chapter 16 we will see Abram make one of the biggest mistakes of his life, and it is partly because he couldn’t find full security in what God said here. Finally, Moses tells us what has become a very famous phrase, "Abram believe the Lord and He credited it to him as righteousness." Who says that grace is not in the Old Testament. We’ve already seen many examples of it, but here it’s as clear as it can be. It was not Abram’s works or best efforts that made him righteous before God – it was the fact that He believed what God said. He trusted God. That’s how salvation, a right relationship with God always, ALWAYS, ALWAYS comes about. There are no exceptions. APPLICATION What are the worries that you typically carry? Come on, you do worry even if you don’t think you do. I used to tell myself (and my wife) that I didn’t worry or get stressed. As far as I knew at the time (because I didn’t know myself very well), I didn’t worry or get stressed. But the fact was that it just went underground, deep inside me – so far that I didn’t even recognize it. But it was there nontheless. Worry is a sure sign of un-trust. Sorry to make up a word, but that’s what it is. We are not trusting God when we worry. We think that He’s not doing what is best, wise enough, or right – or at the very least not what WE want Him to be doing. But at the bottom of it all is a truth that God knows and is doing what is the very best, not only for us but for all of history. Can we learn to be OK with that? PRAYER Lord, we have to have more understanding of Your goodness and wisdom. We have to see more of who You are and how much You love us. Our worry will plague us until you reveal those things to us. Break us of our self-reliance and teach us to be God-reliant. I’m a bit scared when I pray that, because I know that sometimes I cling to things that I ought not – and when I do You have to wrench them out of my fingers, and that hurts sometimes – OK, all the time. But it is needed – and I see that. Help us all to see that and be OK with trusting You to do Your best work.


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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Where credit is due

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 14:21-24 all of it OBSERVATIONS Here's our friend Abram, coming home from an amazing military rescue mission. Lot and family are being returned home safe and sound (we can assume that's why Abram was going near Sodom) and the king of Sodom comes out to congratulate Abram and talk to him about the spoils of the battles. He's really pretty gracious to Abram - simply asking him to return the people who belong to the city and to keep all the goods (riches, weapons, animals, etc.) for himself. That's really amazing considering that a lot of what Abram got from the kings he defeated was a recovery of what was taken from Sodom in the first place. In effect, the king of Sodom is wanting to pay Abram for his services - and he's being pretty generous. But we see an interesting attitude in our friend Abram. He won't take the money. At some point in his rescue operation, either on the way, during, or on the way home, he made an agreement with God that he would not take the smallest thing from the king of Sodom as recompence for rescuing all the people. His reason is truly remarkable - he didn't want the king of Sodom to have any claim to the glory that was really due God. That's being careful about who gets the real credit - because He's the one who did the real work. It cost Abram, no doubt. I'm sure he lost some of his trained men in the recovery of the people of Sodom (and Lot). But he as well as anyone seems to have known that he could not have done it on his own. But, he does make sure that those who went to help him (Aner, Eschol and Mamre) receive a share of the spoils. OBSERVATIONS I find that my American pride gets in the way here. I'm quick to take credit, or to at least not think to look more deeply at the circumstances and recognize where the true strength came from. I'm often more likely to think of it in this way, "Wasn't it neat how things worked out that way?" instead of how it should be - "God has been so good and gracious to me." I guess I'm more prone to attribute my successes to myself or to sheer chance than I am to God. That's sad and flat-out wrong. God's gracious blessing is all over your life and mine. We can't deny it. No matter how difficult our circumstances may be - it's clear that He's been faithful in providing us blessing upon blessing even within the difficulty. It's time to recognize it - to admit it - and to change our mindset and behavior in regard to it. We MUST learn, like Abram, to give credit where credit is due. PRAYER Father, wake up Your church. Show us Your good hand and give us hearts of humility to confess Your name and goodness in our lives. There is so much to be thankful for - and so little for us to take credit for.


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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Who the heck is Melchizedek?

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 14:17-20 entire passage OBSERVATIONS: Abram comes home to somewhat of a victor's parade. The king of Sodom (personally, I'm surprised that he wasn't killed by the victorious kings) comes out to offer his thanks to Abram. And alongside him this guy with the long, difficult-to-pronounce name comes out - Melchizedek. Who is he? The passage tells us that he was king of a place called "Salem" - which many scholars agree is JeruSALEM. So, he's another of these numerous city-kings from the region - Jerusalem was not far away from where Abram was living. But notice what else the passage says about him - he was "priest of God Most High." That's GOT to take us by surprise! We thought Abram was God's man in those parts at that time. But here's another who is actually a priest in His name who lives very nearby. Where did he come from? How did he learn about God? Since he was a priest, were there others in his city who followed God most high? Good questions, but unfortunately ones we can't answer definitively since scripture doesn't tell us. But something that has caused a great deal of supposition here is that he's one of the few figures in scripture (the only one besides Christ Himself) who is referred to as both a priest and a king. This, in part, has caused some to suppose that he was actually a manifestation of Christ prior to His arrival in Bethlehem as a baby. It would be one of those instances where God shows up in the life of an Old Testament person in a tangible, human form - if that were what this is. In theological terms, this kind of manifestation is called "Christophany." (not that you need to remember that) But we have no indication from this passage that Melchizedek is such a thing. I said that was "part" of the reason people think that - the other part is that Melchizedek is mentioned in more detail in the book of Psalms and then again in the book of Hebrews, and some of the things mentioned there lead to more speculation about exactly "who he was." It's a bunny trail of sorts, but related - so let's look briefly at Hebrews chapter 5. The theme of Hebrews to this point has been to show how Jesus is superior to angels and to any earthly priest that we could have. In the immediate context of chapter 5, we are being walked down a path of logic about priests and how they become priests. We come to understand that priests are appointed from among men to represent them and make sacrifices for their sins, and his own sins - being a man also. We also learn that no one takes this honor on himself, but rather becomes a priest as he is called by God to be a priest. That's where he brings Melchizedek into the picture. He says that Jesus, like every other priest, was appointed or chosen by God and he references Psalm 110:4 - where it says, "You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek." Obviously, he's taking the Psalm 110 passage to be a reference to Christ. That would make it what we call a Messianic prophecy (a prophecy about the Messiah, who at that point had not come). OK, so Jesus is a priest in the same "order" as Melchizedek - what does that mean? The writer of Hebrews addresses it again in chapters 6 and 7, with the bulk of what pertains to our questions being found in chapter 7 - so let's look there. (Read chapter 7 here) The first paragraph is where the astounding likeness to Christ comes in. It first recounts the story from Genesis, and then says that Melchizedek's name means "king of righteousness" or "king of peace" ("salem" as in "King of Salem" being from the same root as "shalom" - peace). Those are titles we would have no cause to refrain from using about Christ Himself. In fact, scripture does so. (Check out this passage as an example) It goes on to say that Melchizedek was, "Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever. " Wow! This guy WAS something special! There have been some pretty creative attempts to explain away what this passage says - partly because people don't like things like this that they can't explain. But I hope you are coming to understand that when dealing with God and the things of God - there are by default things you are not going to understand - EVER. His wisdom and ways are and forever will be beyond us. The writer goes on to drive his point about Jesus home - he writes, "And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared: 'You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.' " I know this can all be pretty confusing, so let me try to decipher it a bit (I've spent a lot of time over the years trying to figure out the book of Hebrews). What the writer is saying is that Jesus is a priest at God's choosing, because He - like Melchizedek - lives forever. That's how he is along the "order" of Melchizedek. He's not a priest like the normal priest who is appointed mainly because of his ancestry (priests had to be descendents of Jacob's son, Levi. Jesus was not, he was descended from Judah). He's a priest of the new covenant - one completely different than the old one. Look at the significance of how the writer ends the chapter... Now there have been many of those priest (humans, descended from Levi), since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. Spend some time pondering the truth of those verses, soaking in the majesty of God's eternal plan as it's revealed here. It's so powerful to realize that He has done everything, inlcuding the Old Testament religious and priestly regulations, as symbols of the better and perfect things tht He had already planned through Jesus. It blows me away. So... All that from trying to figure out who Melchizedek was. So, what do you think? Could he have been Jesus in an earlier "form?" Sure, it could have been exactly that. But scripture never says that for sure - so we have to hold that option in an open hand (for God to remove it from our theology if need be). So Mel blesses Abe, and Abe gives a tithe to him (the first official mention of tithing - a tenth - in the Bible, by the way) APPLICATION One of the most comforting things to me is that we are not alone. I don't mean that God is always with us, but that when we are serving and following God with all we are, it can seem pretty lonely sometimes. But like Abram, we are not alone. Melchizedek (the man) was there all along, and stood as testimony that Abram's faith and the realtiy of it, was genuine. We too have others who walk along the road with us, though we may never see them or know their names. We are going with a great company of others who help to strengthen and encourage simply by their presence. All the stuff from Hebrews is enough to apply tons of stuff from - but that was just a "freebie" today - we'll apply that stuff whenever we get to Hebrews... PRAYER Father, remind me of Your plan, throughout all generations, that I am honored to be a part of. and remind me too that there are many others who are part of it too. I am not alone, ever. I work alongside Your appointed ones (priests or not). And together we do Your will - the best we ever could hope to do in our lifetimes...


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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Stepping out to trust God

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 14:13-16 entire passage OBSERVATIONS Continuing yesterdays account regarding the capture of Lot, we pick up with Abram getting the news. His beloved nephew has been taken captive by the victorious kings. So, Abram begins to make plans to rescue Lot. There are some very interesting cultural things to learn here. Abram had 318 trained men. The understanding is that they were trained in the art of fighting, swordsmanship, etc. Along with the idea of each city having its own king - Abram himself was becoming pretty prominent in the region, and as a result he had trained men of his own. Granted, in our terms 318 men is not a huge army, but it's something for their day, and an indication of the progressive nature of the Lord's blessing on his man Abram. We find out just a bit further on in our passage (Thursday's passage - read it here) that the allies mentioned here (Mamre the Amorite) joined him in the battle as well. So Abram goes off in pursuit of these departing kings as they lug Lot and his family along with them (and many others, by the way). He finds them at night, sets up a clever method of attack by separating his men to attack from different directions, and routes them. His victory is complete - recapturing all the possessions and people, including Lot and his family. Needless to say, it was a good day for Lot, when it seemed that life itself might have been over... APPLICATION Here's a Spirit-guided supposition for you, based on this passage. I think we see here an example of Abram's growing faith in action. He was beginning to recognize the reality of God's promises of protection and blessing on him, and was bold enough to act on it. Yes, the bonds of kinship (between he and Lot) were strong and a very strong motivator for him to act. But common-sense-wise, it wasn't a very smart move to chase down and attack 4 recently-victorious kings. Yes, he had 318 warriors among his clan, but that couldn't have been very significant compared to the victorious armies of 4 different kings combined. So what did Abram think he was doing? I believe he was stepping out in faith to trust his God to care for him as he did what he knew as "right" - rescuing his kinsman Lot. What does it take to do that for us? Sometimes it's opening our mouth to speak up on God's behalf when we know we will only get grief for it. Other times it means standing against wrong that is being done in the workplace, even if it may cost your job. There are obviously a variety of ways that this sort of opportunity to trust in God's faithfulness could come up. What are they in YOUR life? How can you push yourself to step beyond your comfort zone to trust God a bit more? I want to point out something else, just for the sake of having more tools in our evangelistic toolbox. Many people who discount or try to discredit the Bible and the book of Genesis in particular point to all the "fantastic" sounding things with the response that they just couldn't happen that way. But they fail to notice little things like we have in this section that point to the veracity of the book's facts. By now you are probably saying to yourself, "What in the world are you talking about?" Here's my point: the book specifically mentions 318 trained men, a pretty random number if this were mythological or made up, wouldn't you say? The fact that it's a specific number (as opposed to a generic "300") points clearly to the strong belief that this is an actual account of actual events - not a made up or mythological one. Take time to notice things like that. It does have weight to it even though it is a small thing. As well, for us believers, it's important to notice the degree of detail that our God goes to in telling a story. Everything in the book is for a purpose - don't lose sight of that. God put it in there for a reason... PRAYER Father, shine Your light of revelation on the places in our lives where we need to take a stand, go on the offensive, or step out for Your sake...and for the sake of learning to trust You more and better. And give us the conviction and courage to DO something with that knowledge...


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Monday, August 21, 2006

Guilty by association?

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 14:1-12 entire passage OBSERVATIONS Here we find a very interesting turn of events. 4 kings (Amraphel, Arioch, Kerdolaomer, and Tidal) of various regions go to war against 5 kings (Bera, Birsha, Shinab, Shemeber, and Zoar) from other regions. The reason they went to war is that the later 5 kings had been subject to Kerdolaomer, one of the attacking kings for 12 years, but had decided to rebel against him. It might be helpful to know that the "kings" of their day don't always fit the idea we have in our minds when we hear that word. They were most likely rulers of large cities, and perhaps the surrounding regions. But in that day such kings as these were not typically rulers of vast expanses of land and territory. That is why there could be so many kings in this one region. You can see this as Moses refers to the "king of Sodom" in this passage. We know Sodom to have been a city, not a region... The reason that it is important to the story of Abram is that one of the areas where they are attacking is the region where Abram's nephew Lot had moved (Sodom). When the dust finally settles, the attacking kings do come out on top, and as a result they haul away the goods and many of the people from the regions they've conuquered, including the city of Sodom. And, we are told in the last sentence... that included Lot and his family. APPLICATION We were told in the passage from yesterday that the men of Sodom were very wicked (read the passage here). Lot had gone and made his home near there. Now, in this passage, we find that he is actually living in the city (notice verse 12) not just near it. And as a result he was one of the people dragged away by the victorious kings. We can't make a hard-core case out of what I'm about to say, so be sure to understand that. But it does seem that there is a common sense principle to be found here. Being associated with sin, or sinful activity brings danger. That's the basic principle. Lot seems to have not only been happy to live outside the city of Sodom, where the men were wicked, but something even drew him inside to live. He became associated with them. Of course, the kings attack was somewhat unrelated to Lot's decision or residence in the city, but I believe there is a principle of caution here... being affiliated with sin or sinful people in an intimate way opens you up to the tragedy that befalls them - whether directly related to their decisions or a judgement from the hand of God. PRAYER Father, teach us this lesson more intently. Don't let us forget it. We can't play around with the "innocence" of sin and it's ramifications in our lives. It WILL catch up to us in time...


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