Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A New Name.

In Genesis 17 God changes Abram and Sarai's names.

"No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations." verse 5. Abram meant 'exalted father' but Abraham meant 'father of many nations'.

"God also said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah."  verse 15. Sarai means, 'my princess'. But God changed it to mean only 'Princess' because from  her would come kings and queens. 

I find it interesting how often God chose names for important people in the Bible. He chose John (the baptist), Jesus, Isaac, Ishmael, and he re-named Simon to Peter and Saul to Paul.

In heaven we will all be given a new name. I think this is pretty cool. I can't wait to find out what mine is. I would guess the name will tell something about our lives on earth or in heaven. 

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it." Rev. 2:17

A secret name between God and us. Amazing.

Hagar the Slave.

God had promised Abraham and Sarai he would give them a child. But instead of waiting for God's timing, they tried to make their prayers come true themselves by using a slave girl.

"Sarai said to Abram, 'Now behold, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her. And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai."

"Abram went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her sight. And Sarai said to Abram, 'May the wrong done me be upon you, I gave my maid into your arms, but when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her sight. May the Lord judge between you and me.' But Abram said to Sarai, 'Behold, you maid is in your power; do to her what is good in your sight.' So Sarai treated her harshly, and she fled from her presence."
Genesis 16:1-6

Hagar ran to the wilderness and came to a spring of water. The angel of God came and spoke to her, "Hagar, Sarai's maid, where have you come from and where are you going?"

Hagar answered, "I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai." God now told her what to do and what he would do for her.

"Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority. I will greatly multiply your descendants so they will be too many to count." He also told her she would have a son, and she was to call him, Ishmael (which means "God hears") because God had seen her troubles.

Abraham and Sarai had used Hagar. She had no rights, she had no choice but to obey them. God saw what had happened and came to help her. He must have felt great pity for Hagar. Later on, when Sarai had her own son, Hagar was mistreated again. But God intervened to save her and Ishmael, and he made of Ishmael a great tribe and then a nation.

I think this is a great lesson to all Christians to wait for God to answer our prayers and not try other means that may harm someone to get what we want. All our desires should come under God's control. Both Hagar and Ishmael were hurt by the actions of Abram and Sarai.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Abraham - Saved by Faith.

After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward." Genesis 15:1

I love the image of God being our shield - and being his child is a great reward.

God also promised to give Abram a son in his old age. 

"Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness." Genesis 15:6

And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness - This I conceive to be one of the most important passages in the whole Old Testament. It properly contains and specifies that doctrine of justification by faith which engrosses so considerable a share of the epistles of St. Paul, and at the foundation of which is the atonement made by the Son of God: And he (Abram) believed האמן heemin, he put faith) in Jehovah, ויחשבה לו vaiyachshebeita lo, and he counted it - the faith he put in Jehovah, to Him for righteousness, צדקה tsedakah, or justification; though there was no act in the case but that of the mind and heart, no work of any kind. Hence the doctrine of justification by faith, without any merit of works; for in this case there could be none - no works of Abram which could merit the salvation of the whole human race. It was the promise of God which he credited, and in the blessedness of which he became a partaker through faith.

I also believe the people of the Old Testament were saved by faith and not works. No one was perfect, no one could save themselves by their good works back then or now.

Knowledge of God by Sodom and Gomorrah.

It says in Genesis 14 that 4 kings went to war against Sodom and Gomorrah. Abram's nephew Lot and his family were taken. Abram got his men together and went to rescue Lot, which he did.

"After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley). Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand." Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything. Genesis 14:17-20

What I find fascinating about this story is that God used Abram to rescue the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah. Also, after the fight a priest of God came out and blessed Abram. God showed the people of Sodom he cared for them and they also must have known about God because there were believers all around them. God also showed them he was stronger than their gods.

Sometimes it seems there were few believers in God when we read the Bible, but here it shows the king of Salem (Jerusalem) was not only a believer, but a priest. Also, some scholars think Job lived at the same time as Abram. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Abram Lied.

In Genesis 12 we are told there was a famine in the land where Abram lived. He went to Egypt to buy grain, but on the way there he asked his wife to lie.

He said, "I know what a beautiful woman you are and when the Egyptians see you they will say, 'This is his wife.' Then they will kill me but let you live. Say you are my sister , so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you."

Abram showed a lack of faith in God. He was afraid of being murdered, he asked his wife to lie and put her in danger of being taken and having to be with another man, probably for the rest of her life.

When they got to Egypt the Pharaoh was told of Sarai's beauty and was brought into his harem. There she would be forever except for God. He stepped in and saved Sarah.

 When a woman was brought into the seragilo or harem of the eastern princes, she underwent for a considerable time certain purifications before she was brought into the king's presence. It was in this interim that God plagued Pharaoh and his house with plagues, so that Sarai was restored before she could have been taken to the bed of the Egyptian king.

What to learn from this?

1. Maybe Abram shouldn't have gone to Egypt. The Bible doesn't say if God told him to or not. Maybe it was a mistake to not wait and see if God would feed him there in Caanan.

2. Trust God and don't lie or ask others to lie, even to save your life. No one can harm us unless God allows it, so trust in Him to protect you. If he lets you die, so be it.

3. God will protect and help us as women if our husbands don't.

4. Even if our faith fails us and we fall and sin, God will still help us out of our troubles. He still loves us; he still watches over us.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Miracles for Hubby and Me.

Reading about Abraham and how God led him and told him where to live made me think of how God led my husband and myself over the years. God did so much for us, I can never thank him enough. I think I wrote about this before, but that's okay.

Around 18 years ago, my daughter Sandy got a job in Prince George, a city 9 hours away. She would be taking my grandsons, whom I had been babysitting, with her. I felt very sad about this. I didn't think I would be seeing them very often, maybe only at Christmas. But God did something wonderful for me. My husband's company needed him to work in that city often over the next year. I was able to go with him, we stayed at a lovely hotel - all paid for - and I got to see my grandsons many times while they lived there.

The next miracle God did for us was when Sandy left Prince George because of an excellent job offer in Vancouver. It is only 5 hours away and also an easy bus ride. I visited quite often. After a year or so the boys became unhappy at their daycare. They wanted me to babysit them again. It didn't seem possible until my husband's company again asked him to work in Vancouver. We moved there and I was able to see the boys grow up and have a happy time after school with their friends instead of going to the local daycare. God also found us an apartment across the street from their school.

When the boys were 12 and 13 my daughter Christine, who lived in Kelowna, needed me. Her youngest daughter was not very well and Christine needed to work part-time. She needed someone to drive all the kids to school and back also. I wanted to help out and now that the boys didn't need me I could have, but there were no jobs in my hubby's company in Kelowna. There was only an office for managers there.

Also, my husband was in line for getting a promotion in Vancouver. We decided to pray and ask for guidence on what to do. Christine needed me right away. For the first time I asked God for a sign. If he wanted me to go to Kelowna before my husband - please give me a sign. He did do that within a week. I had a dream. My mother and I were flying into Kelowna. I looked out the window and thought, "I'm home."

I moved to Kelowna while my husband waited. His company moved the meter shop from Vancouver to a city near Kelowna that year. He applied for a job and got it. He gave up the promotion and extra money but we have never regretted it.

I'm so thankful for these miracles - for that is what they are to me - from God.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

God Will Lead Us.

"The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you." Genesis 12:1

It wasn't long after the flood until many people were worshiping gods they made for themselves. Abram originally lived in the city of Ur. It was a huge city where they worshiped many gods. The city's main god was called Nanna - the moon god. The name of the city comes from this. 

God asked Abram to leave Ur and go to the countryside in the land of Caanan. He obeyed and went there. When he arrived God actually appeared to him.

"The LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring I will give this land." So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him."

God also told Abram that the Messiah would come from his family. 

"I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."

What I get from the story of Abraham leaving Ur is that God knows those who love him and he looks after them in special ways. Also, if God asks you to pick up and move - do it! You won't regret it and he will use you and bless you in a wonderful way.  Tomorrow, I will write about how God helped my hubby and me move back to Kelowna from Vancouver.

I like archaeology and I have read about Ur before and seen pictures, but I thought maybe some of you might find it interesting. 

This is the shrine to Nanna, the moon god.

These artifacts were found in the royal tombs of Ur.

Walking With God.

Genesis 6:11 says the earth was filled with violence. This was one reason for the flood. What a frightening thought - a place filled with violence. 

"But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God." Genesis 6:9

The Bible says the same thing about Enoch, who was taken to heaven - he walked with God.

When I go for a walk with someone it is a time of visiting and enjoying each other's company. That is how I see walking with God. I also see it as following his lead and striving to walk the way he shows me. I don't see myself walking so much as teetering along, slip-sliding around. But I can see God's hand holding mine.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

God's Pain.

Painting by Erik Hollander.

"The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain." 

Think of the pain in a parent's heart when their children do wrong things. God is the same as parents. Think of the pain we feel as we watch the suffering and wars on TV. God feels that pain too.

Many ask, "Why doesn't God do something about it?" He does. Sometimes he topples governments and kingdoms when they are evil. Hitler's regime did not last long compared to other dictator's. God stepped in using the other nations to rid the world of him. The world rejoiced when Nazi Germany fell. I would guess the people at the time of the flood were like the Nazis. Evil to the core. There must have been wars and murder in abundance. God had to step in himself to end this.

Years later God spoke to Abraham about the nation of  the Amorites:

"After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, for the sins of the Amorites do not yet warrant their destruction." Genesis 15:16

God does not destroy a nation until there is no hope for it, as in the example of Sodom and Gomorrah, a city with inhabitants who raped people who came to visit. The people of the flood had reached the end of their probationary time.

Some people say God was cruel in the Old Testament because of the flood and how he later sent Israel out to destroy nations. But I think he was protecting the world from a terrible evil that was rising. 

I'll be honest. I wish God would just put people or nations to sleep and let them die peacefully, but I guess there is a reason why he doesn't do that. It would have been cool to just wake up one morning and all the Nazis had died in bed. :) 

Nope, He doesn't do that. But I trust that He does the right thing at the right time.

Monday, May 21, 2012

God's Striving with Men.

Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years." Genesis 6:3

"From this passage we learn that the Lord by his Spirit strives with man up to a certain point.
There is a certain point beyond which he will not go, for sufficient reasons known fully to himself, partly to us. Two of these we are to notice for our instruction: First, he will not touch the free agency of his rational creatures. He can put no force on the volitions of men. An involuntary or compulsory faith, hope, love, obedience, is a contradiction in terms; and anything that could bear the name can have no moral validity whatsoever. Secondly, after giving ample warning, instruction, and invitation, he will, as a just judgment on the unbelieving and the impenitent, withdraw his Spirit and let them alone. The antediluvian world was fast approaching to this point of final perversity and abandonment."

Some commentaries say the '120 years' means God warned the people through Noah for that amount of time.

"The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time." Genesis 6:5

The state of the people of the flood was a horrible one. Without God to make us good, we become completely evil. God was so kind to warn them of their fate, but like Cain before them, they did not listen. It is sad to realize there were only a few people on earth who had God in their hearts.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Do You Want God to Warn Someone?

I've been writing on this blog for two years now. I always waited to feel inspired before I wrote anything. I decided to change the format now. I'm just going to post each day about my devotional time with God and what I learned or how I felt. I thought that might be nice for me - perhaps not so interesting to others though.

No one needs to comment if you don't need to etc. Feel free to just read and run or start to read and run. :)

I am going through the Bible starting at the beginning. Today I read about Cain and Abel. What struck me was how God came down personally to talk with Cain about his faults. He warned him at the start that unless he changed his attitude he would enter into greater sin:

"If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."

Cain didn't listen and the result was the murder of his brother. God came again to speak with Cain; he gave him a chance to confess his sin and repent. Cain didn't do that.

I thought about why God quit showing up in person except to certain people like prophets. It is plain to see from this story that even if God Himself comes to people to help them to repent - it doesn't work if they are rebellious. As Jesus said, "Even if they see someone rise from the dead, they will not believe."

I used to ask God to send a dream to my first husband and warn him about being lost. I realize now that even if God did send him a dream it wouldn't have made a difference. God knows the when, where and why of how to deal with his children on earth and I trust his judgement.

Monday, May 14, 2012

I was thinking of my grandson today and feeling sad. I opened up my devotion page on my computer tonight and these verses were the first ones I read.

"I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him."  1 Thessalonians 4: 13-14

"In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing." 2 Timothy 4:8

"Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."—MATT.25:34.

"Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."  Luke 12:32

I'm thankful we all have the hope of seeing our loved ones again. It is hard to go on without them but God gives us strength day by day.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

My Nephew is Well.

My nephew had a severe concussion from a fall on ice at an oil rig in Alberta, Canada. He was very sick, but I can now share the news that he is completely recovered. We are all very grateful and happy about it.

My nephew had always been skeptical that there was a God. He had thought about this for years. But when he went through this ordeal, and some terrible troubles he went through while he was sick, he prayed and said he now believes and indeed knows that there is a God who will help you.

When my grandson died last August, my daughters and his brother went to God for help. We all needed Him so very much. God was there for us in many ways and we know we will see Craig again in heaven. When you reach out to God, he reveals himself - he speaks to your heart.

I was reading a book this morning by Philip Yancey called, "Prayer." In it he quotes a young Jewish girl named Etty Hillesum who kept a journal while in Auschwitz. She writes,

 "Sometimes when I stand in some corner of the camp, my feet planted on Your earth, my eyes raised towards Your Heaven, tears sometimes run down my face, tears of deep emotion and gratitude. And I want to be there right in the thick of what people call horror and still be able to say: life is beautiful. Yes, I lie here in a corner, parched and dizzy and feverish and unable to do a thing. Yet I am also with the jasmine and the piece of sky beyond my window. For once you have begun to walk with God, you need only keep on walking with God and all of life becomes one long stroll - a marvelous feeling."

I wish I could say I have the beautiful faith of this young girl. I don't yet, but I am learning to see God in everything. He is there through the worst of life giving us peace if we will but reach for it.