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This morning…

Genesis 25:31-34 – “And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.”

This morning, the kids were eating breakfast and my son asked for a catalog that was near my daughter. Now, a bit of back story – A discussion arose concerning the temperature outside and the fact that my husband’s car only has seat warmers for the front seat. He was planning on taking the kids to school and my daughter was lamenting over cold seats in the back seat. She begged my son to allow her to sit upfront. He, of course, declined the request stating that was his place to sit. 

Back to the story – my daughter agreed to give him the catalog if he would allow her the front seat. He proceeded to reach across her for the catalog. To which she responded, “Come on Esau! Sell your birthright, you hairy brother!”

Now, this particular antidote has no real deep spiritual meaning. However, my children were having fun early in the morning with Godly stories in their mind. The scene itself made me smile, but what warmed my heart was the Biblical reference. God was on their mind. 

So, enjoy your day and always keep God in the forefront of your mind and your day! Happy Friday!

Promises, promises

Genesis 9:22-16 – “And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.”

As I was driving and driving and driving last night, a usual sight in the land of perpetual evening showers made its appearance – a rainbow. I love rainbows. I think of leprechauns. I think of science (I know, I’m a weirdo). But mostly, when I see a rainbow, I see a promise. 

God used the rainbow to reassure Noah that He would never again destroy the entire earth with water. Now, He has destroyed parts of the earth but not the entire thing. And there’s something to be said in that. 

God keeps His promises. 

In a world and time when promises are as cheap as anything, God’s promises are….priceless. We need them. We desire them. We must have them to feel secure. Too many things in this world are uncertain and shifty. God’s promises are a bedrock that we can build our life upon. 

The Bible is full of promises. There are books written that will direct you to Scripture that reveal promise after promise. There are promises that He will never leave you. Promises that ensure wisdom. Promises that nothing is too big. So many promises. 

And each and every one is rock solid. You can take it to the bank. If God said it, He WILL do it. 

Bonus – we have promises yet to be fulfilled. How exciting is that?! Presents that you know are coming and you can hardly wait to open them! The best promise of all – He will come again to receive us unto Himself. Oh that gets me excited! Like preacher says – If that don’t light your fire, your wood is wet!

His return. That is a promise I’m excited to see fulfilled. And that amazing partial rainbow that I saw in the sky last night reminded me of that wonderful, blessed hope. I’m only here for a little while, so I better make it count. 

Looking at the other side

Genesis 22:1-3 – “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.”

So today, I want to look at who is not in these verses – Sarah. 

Sarah was a beautiful woman but she could be a handful at times, especially when it came to Isaac. She was a momma bear when it came to him. But she was beautiful and Abraham loved her dearly. 

Let me just set up for you something that has been going on in my head in regards to this portion of history – Abraham has told Sarah that he and Isaac have to go make a sacrifice to God. They are going to go to the place He tells them to go to complete the sacrifice. Now, to some that would be strange, but to Sarah, well, she has heard that before and it all turned out okay. So Isaac and Abraham take off for a journey. The shepherds are whispering around two days after they leave. Sarah notices this. She asks them what they are being so secretive about – they tell her Abraham and Isaac did not take a lamb for the sacrifice. 

Now, think for a minute about all the scenarios that are going through your head right now. How would you feel? Would you think that your husband has just ran off with your son? I mean, he did just get rid of Ishmael and his mother. But when he left, he left behind many items that if he had been leaving for good, he would have taken.  No, he only took the things they would need for a sacrifice. And Abraham is not easily swayed to run after pagan gods. So, what would he sacrifice? He was looking at Isaac in a strange way….no, he wouldn’t. He couldn’t. Would he?

It took three days for Abraham and Isaac to get where they were going. So it stands to reason that it would take that long to get back home. Six days – it was at least that long that Sarah waited without knowing if her son was still alive or not. Can you imagine what was going through her head? Can you imagine how she prayed and begged and pleaded to God? She had waited her whole, long life for that child. 

What I want to think about here is trust. Sarah trusted Abraham with her son. Abraham trusted that God would provide and fulfill His promise to him. Sarah learned that she had to trust God as well. 

There are so many times in our life that we have no clue what’s going on. Things are as clear as mud. These are the times that God uses to teach us to trust Him. Trusting means that you don’t need to know all the details or be privy to what all is going on – you just know that somehow, someway it will all happen and  work out. 

And that’s ok. You don’t need to know everything, you just need to trust the One that has everything under control. 

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Genesis 23:7 – “And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth.”

Respect is a rare gift in today’s world. I fear that it is one of those things that has fallen by the wayside. Not only do people not respect others, they don’t respect themselves. Why else would boys walk around in public with their under shorts showing and holding up their pants?

Anyway, Abraham was showing the people of this country he was in, Hebron in the land of Canaan, respect. He wanted the people to know and understand that not only was he conducting business but that he was doing so with the highest regard for their position in their society. Several times in the 23 chapter of Genesis does is document that Abraham bowed himself before the people. And when he spoke, he did so with integrity and honor.

This passage documenting the retrieval of the cave at Machpelah to bury Sarah is short but full of a marvelous lesson in respect and dealing with others.

Back in the day, men would open the doors for ladies. People would rise when an elderly person entered the room. Females dressed modestly to protect their virtue. Children did not talk back to their parents. People didn’t question whether they attended worship on Sunday mornings. Here is a very short list of the acts that our society approves that demonstrates a lack of respect for others, themselves and most of all God.

Manners is one remedy. Caring about others is another. Understanding our place in this world is yet another way to help rectify the situation. I’ve always tried to remember that if I show respect, then I am more likely to receive it. Sometimes I achieve this and sometimes I don’t. But it is something that I have to make myself do sometimes.

So let me encourage you today to try and be more diligent at showing respect. Respect your coworkers by helping them if you can. Respect your children by knocking before you enter their room. Show respect to your spouse by stopping what you are doing and listening when they speak. Respect your boss by getting your work done in a timely manner. Respect God by reading and meditating on His word today. Respect can be a beautiful thing when chosen to be given. It can be difficult sometimes but giving it can smooth over many difficult situations.

Don’t DIY

Genesis 15:1 – ” After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.”

“Do-it yourself” stuff is all the rage. There is an entire app just for one to look up anything and everything that you can do for yourself. There are stores devoted to getting things around the house “fixed up” by Harry Homeowner himself. We like to do things ourself. In a world where you can get just about everything done by someone else for a price, it feels good to know that you accomplished some great feat all by yourself.

But there are some things that we just cannot do ourself – salvation, for one thing. We cannot attain our own salvation. We can’t work for it. We can’t buy it. We can’t steal it. It has to be given to us. Praise God! I don’t think I could handle the stress of trying to accomplish that task!

There are other ways that we try to out-do God. We try to protect ourself. Now, sure, there are things that we can do, items we can have on hand and such, that will protect us. Security systems, firearms, pepper spray, self-defense techniques, car seats and seat belts, wellness visits to the doctor – these are all ways that we can protect ourself. But as a follower of Christ, we have the best protection we could possibly imagine – we have God as our shield.

When I did a study of the armor of God one time, I learned that the to used for “shield” isn’t some small, dinky, upper body covering thing. No, this “shield” is more like a door that you hide behind. It is huge and all-protecting. You don’t have to worry about anything getting past that thing! The only way to get hurt while having this shield in your armory is to leave it behind.

This is the protection that God is offering everyone who puts their faith and trust in Him. This is the kind of protection He was offering Abraham. This is the same protection He offers you and me today. How cool is that??

In the last part of this verse, God describes Himself as Abraham’s “exceeding great reward”. Now, we LOVE rewards. We love accolades. We love bonuses. We love experiencing and seeing the fruit of our labor. And we want it now. No delayed gratification- that’s for the birds!  We are like that little girl from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”. We whine and ball our fist and get all red faced while screaming, “I want it now!”  We never have been good at waiting.

God had promised Abraham a son. Abraham and Sarah were just as bad as us about waiting. But God had promised to be Abraham’s “exceeding great reward”. God promised to be all the reward that Abraham would ever need and/or want. He has made that promise to us today.

It’s the idea of being forward focused. It’s remembering that the best is yet to come. It’s accepting that things may never be the best while we are here and serving Him, but one day, oh one day, I can’t even explain how good things will be. I can only read and try to comprehend how good Heaven will be. I can’t imagine that kind of reward. But I believe with all my heart, that if God said it and/or promised it, that it is a guarantee!

So let me encourage you today – stay behind the shield and remember that the best is yet to come. Sometimes that can be challenging. We don’t want to wait for God to rescue us. And we certainly don’t want to wait to get our reward. But just like that ketchup commercial used to say, “The best things in life come to those who wait.”

Testing versus Tempting

James 1:12-17 – “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

Does God tempt us? In Genesis 22:1 it says, “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.” However, the word “tempt” here does not mean what you think it does – it actually means “to test or try” in the original language. Don’t believe me? Look it up. I use the Strong’s Dictionary and concordance app all the time. It is a reliable source, trusted by thousands. 

Anyway, in these verses in James, we learn that God cannot tempt us because tempting can lead to evil. God test us. He tries us. Just like when a metal worker wants to purify the metal he is working with, he puts it into fire. The fire drives out all the impurities. What is left is stronger and ready to be molded into whatever the metalsmith desires. Sometimes God has to put us in the fire to purify us and make us stronger. He has to remove all the problems and sins that keep us from serving Him purely and righteously. And being purified hurts soemtimes. It is no fun. But the alternative is even worse – separation from Him. You see, God wants to mold us and make us into His beautiful creation, but we allow other things to get in the way. Oh, God can use those other things in one way or another, but sometimes He chooses to get rid of them to make us into His ultimate design, not our own. 

And when He is finished, we are transformed into something amazing. We are made into a new gift for the world. A gift that has the potential to transform others and bring Him even more honor and glory.

So this week when you are going through the fire, when it’s all hitting the fan, when things can’t possibly get any worse, just remember – fire is for purifying. He is making you into something new. You need to determine if what you are going through is because of sin (temptation) or because of purifying (testing). And the only way you can determine that is to talk to Jesus. He has all the answers. He will let you know if you are facing the choice of sin or if you are being encouraged to become more pure for Him to work in your life. Growth is hard. Growth is sometimes painful. Growth is challenging. But growth is worth it. 

Reaching out

Genesis 3:6 – “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make onewise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. “

Poor Eve. She was having a really bad day. She couldn’t win for losing. The serpent had caught her mingling about the Garden, and he began to talk to her. And Eve did the one thing none of us should do – she listened. She had probably never even considered why she could not eat of that tree. She just knew God said not to eat of it, so she didn’t. So when the serpent came around asking questions about that tree, she probably began to wonder about it. And then she looked at it. She thought about it. She became curious about it. Then she made the choice to reach out and take of it and eat of it. 

And so we have the path of sin, any sin. The first problem is listening to the devil. We hear him in every thing. We hear him on the television telling us lies about what we should and shouldn’t eat, drink and look like. We hear him telling us we are not good enough. We hear him telling us that the Bible is outdated and irrelevant. Along with hearing him, we listen to him. You do know that you can hear and not listen, right? It’s called ignoring someone. 

The next problem on the path of sin is looking. We look at sin every day. We see it, once again, on television or on our smart device. We see it and read about it in books and magazines. We see it when we are walking down the aisles at the grocery store – people dressed inappropriately, food that is bad for us yet so tempting, people spending way more moneys than they have. 

First we hear about the sin, then we go looking for it. And then we reach out for it. We see with our clouded eyes that it is not so bad. We can handle just a little bit of it. What will it hurt? 

And then we consume it. We allow it into our body and into our soul. We think that we can control it and that we can handle it. But just like Eve was forever changed by her poor choices, we can be forever changed by ours. 

You see, we have the opportunity to walk away from the sin. We may ask for forgiveness from God and all the people that we have hurt by our sin. But the effects of that sin will always be with us. It may not be visible but it becomes part of our baggage. It becomes part of what makes us who we are. If we have chosen forgiveness, our story is that of redemption. If we choose to live in that sin, it becomes one of destruction and chaos. 

We are still living with the choice that Eve and Adam made that day in the Garden. And we will live with it until we are Home were we belong. 

You may have sin(s) in your life that you are dealing with and living with every day. You have a choice. You have the choice of redemption or of destruction. And even if you have chosen destruction, you still have the opportunity for redemption. God does not take that opportunity from you. He is always willing and waiting to offer it to you. All you have to do is reach out and take it.