Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Trusting God to Supply Our Needs.

"Now there was a famine in the land--besides the earlier famine of Abraham's time--and Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines in Gerar. The LORD appeared to Isaac and said, "Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you."

When there was a famine in Abraham's time, he went to Egypt for food. But God asked Isaac to stay where there was a famine and promised to take care of him. It would take faith for Isaac to stay in spite of what he saw around him. He did stay and God blessed him.

"Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the LORD blessed him." Genesis 26:12

If God asks us to do something for him, He will also supply our needs. He has done that for Desiray in her park ministry. So, even if we don't have the resources, He will help us get them. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Interfering with God's Plans.

Jacob and Esau grew to be men. They were of opposite personality and character. 

"Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. Esau said to Jacob, "I'm starved! Give me some of that red stew!" 

 "All right," Jacob replied, "but trade me your rights as the firstborn son."

"Look, I am about to die," Esau said. "What good is the birthright to me?"

So, he sold his rights to Jacob as firstborn.
Genesis 25:29-34

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary
25:29-34 We have here the bargain made between Jacob and Esau about the right, which was Esau's by birth, but Jacob's by promise. It was for a spiritual privilege; and we see Jacob's desire of the birth-right, but he sought to obtain it by crooked courses, not like his character as a plain man. He was right, that he coveted earnestly the best gifts; he was wrong, that he took advantage of his brother's need.

The Bible says, "So Esau despised his birthright."

Their father Isaac ( probably not knowing about his son's transaction) felt he was going to die soon, so he called Esau to him and said, "Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing before I die."

His mother Rebekah, overheard the conversation and told Jacob she would cook the food and that Jacob should go in to Isaac pretending he was Esau so that he would receive the blessing instead of his brother. And although Jacob argued with her, he finally gave in and lied to his father to take the blessings from Esau.

"Isaac trembled exceedingly - Those that follow the choice of their own affections rather than the dictates of the Divine will, involve themselves in such perplexities as these. But he soon recovers himself, and ratifies the blessing he had given to Jacob, I have blessed him, and he shall be blessed - He might have recalled it, but now at last he is sensible he was in an error when he designed it for Esau. Either recollecting the Divine oracle, or having found himself more than ordinarily filled with the Holy Ghost when he gave the blessing to Jacob, he perceived that God did as it were say Amen to it."

"Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, "The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob." Genesis 27:41

God had told Rebekah that Esau would serve Jacob. Isaac chose to ignore this and wanted Esau to be the head of the family. Rebekah resorted to lies to make Jacob the head. Jacob had thought he could take advantage of Esau's hunger and buy the blessing. 

None of them trusted in God about this.  None of them waited for God's will to be done in His own way. Rebekah paid for this by never seeing her beloved son Jacob again. Jacob paid by having to run away from the murderous anger of Esau. It is never a good idea to try to make good things happen in an unrighteous way.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Don't Show Favoritism.

"The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was a quiet man, staying among the tents. 

Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob." Genesis 25:28

Isaac and Rebekah were doing wrong in preferring one child over another. This can lead to anger in children that carries over to adulthood.  God's love should flow through us to our children in equal measure - if we have trouble with one of our children we should pray that God will give us patience and deep love for that child.

Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
Isaac loved Esau - but Rebekah loved Jacob - This is an early proof of unwarrantable parental attachment to one child in preference to another. Isaac loved Esau, and Rebekah loved Jacob; and in consequence of this the interests of the family were divided, and the house set in opposition to itself. The fruits of this unreasonable and foolish attachment were afterwards seen in a long catalogue of both natural and moral evils among the descendants of both families.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

God Answers Our Questions.

Isaac married Rebekah but she couldn't get pregnant so they prayed and God gave her not one, but two babies in her pregnancy. But Rebekah had trouble as the babies grew:

"The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, "Why is this happening to me?" So she went to inquire of the LORD."

When Rebekah conceived, the children struggled together in her womb. In this she saw an evil omen, that the pregnancy so long desired and entreated of Jehovah would bring misfortune, and that the fruit of her womb might not after all secure the blessing of the divine promise; so that in intense excitement she cried out, "If it be so, wherefore am I?" i.e., why am I alive? cf. Genesis 27:46. But she sought counsel from God: she went to inquire of Jehovah. Where and how she looked for a divine revelation in the matter, is not recorded, and therefore cannot be determined with certainty. Some suppose that it was by prayer and sacrifice at a place dedicated to Jehovah. Others imagine that she applied to a prophet - to Abraham, Melchizedek, or Shem (Luther); a frequent custom in Israel afterwards (1 Samuel 9:9), but not probable in the patriarchal age.

"The LORD said to her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger."
Genesis 25:23

Thus she gave birth to twins: Jacob and Esau. This was twenty years after she had married. It was a long wait, but God did give the couple the children they wanted. Not only that, when Rebekah was upset and confused, she went to God and asked Him what was wrong. He answered her - how we are not told. But I know in my own life, when there is something I don't understand and ask God to explain things to me, he always does; one way or another. :)

I'm so glad we have such a wonderful God to go to when we are confused.

Monday, June 11, 2012

God's Guidence.

 Abraham wanted a wife for his son Isaac, but not one of the local girls who worshiped idols. He sent his chief servant to find a wife from his relatives who lived in Nahor. The servant came to the well of this city and  stood and  prayed,

 "O LORD, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. May it be that when I say to a girl, 'Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,' and she says, 'Drink, and I'll water your camels too'--let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master."

What did God do?

"Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah, who was the wife of Abraham's brother Nahor."

Rebekah said to the servant exactly what he prayed for and the servant praised God. 

I love this story because it shows how God guides us and helps us. Sometimes we can ask for a sign and God will give it to us as He did to Abraham's servant.

Rebekah said she would go and marry Isaac and the Bible says, "

"Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death."

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Why was Abraham Tested?

In Genesis 22 we learn that God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son as an offering to Himself. God had no intention of allowing Abraham to do this - it was a test of his trust in God. When the time came and Isaac was on the alter, God said,

"Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son."

The commentaries say the words, "Now I know," could be interpreted, "I have made known." Because God already knew what Abraham would do. 

 Saadiah Gaon (i) interprets it, "I have made known", that is, to others; God by trying Abraham made it manifest to others, to all the world, to all that should hear of or read this account of things, that he was a man that feared God, loved him, believed in him, and obeyed him, of which this instance is a full and convincing proof:

Testing comes to all of us Christians. There are many writings on this in the Bible. Peter has this to say:

"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." 1 Peter 1:6-7

Barnes' Notes on the Bible
That it is desirable that the faith of Christians should be tried:
(a) It is desirable to know whether that which appears to be religion is genuine, as it is desirable to know whether that which appears to be gold is genuine. To gold we apply the action of intense heat, that we may know whether it is what it appears to be; and as religion is of more value than gold, so it is more desirable that it should be subjected to the proper tests, that its nature may be ascertained. There is much which appears to be gold, which is of no value, as there is much which appears to be religion, which is of no value. The one is worth no more than the other, unless it is genuine.
(b) It is desirable in order to show its true value. It is of great importance to know what that which is claimed to be gold is worth for the purposes to which gold is usually applied; and so it is in regard to religion. Religion claims to be of more value to man than anything else. It asserts its power to do that for the intellect and the heart which nothing else can do; to impart consolation in the various trials of life which nothing else can impart; and to give a support which nothing else can on the bed of death. It is very desirable, therefore, that in these various situations it should show its power; that is, that its friends should be in these various conditions, in order that they may illustrate the true value of religion.
(c) It is desirable that true religion should be separated from all alloy. There is often much alloy in gold, and it is desirable that it should be separated from it, in order that it may be pure. So it is in religion. It is often combined with much that is unholy and impure; much that dims its lustre and mars its beauty; much that prevents its producing the effect which it would otherwise produce. Gold is, indeed, often better, for some purposes, for having some alloy mixed with it; but not so with religion. It is never better for having a little pride, or vanity, or selfishness, or meanness, or worldliness, or sensuality mingled with it; and that which will remove these things from our religion will be a favor to us.
II. God takes various methods of trying his people, with a design to test the value of their piety, and to separate it from all impure mixtures:
(1) He tries his people by prosperity - often as decisive a test of piety as can be applied to it. There is much pretended piety, which will bear adversity, but which will not bear prosperity. The piety of a man is decisively tested by popularity; by the flatteries of the world; by a sudden increase of property; and in such circumstances it is often conclusively shown that there is no true religion in the soul.

For myself, I would say my faith was tested when my daughter Sandy gave birth. She suffered terribly for 27 hours, and as I watched her I thought of all the women through the ages who had died this way - giving birth, and it made me very angry at God. I failed this test of my faith. I was angry for years at the suffering God allowed to everyone. After awhile I told God I was tired of being angry at Him and wanted to come back and I read many books on suffering and why God allowed it.

Years later, my daughter Christine suffered terribly from a medical ailment. She almost died. By then I had learned to trust God. I gave her to Him and did not get angry about her suffering. I also felt no anger when my grandson died. This is what God will do for us and I am thankful to Him. If you have trouble in this area, ask God to help you to accept life as it is and not to struggle against it. Ask Him for strength to bear whatever it is that is hurting your heart and He will give it to you.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Why Ishmael is Sent Away.

In Genesis 21 we read about Ishmael, the son of the slave Hagar, mocked Isaac, the son of Sarah. I have always thought it was cruel for Sarah and Abraham to banish Hagar and Ishmael. But after reading the commentaries I now understand why. Ishmael had been the first-born. The inheritance from Abraham would have all been his until Isaac was born. This seemed to make Ishmael angry - so he mocked the child, and as Paul said, he persecuted Isaac. Ishmael was 17 years old at the time and could have been a threat.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
mocking; either at the entertainment made at the weaning of Isaac; or rather at Isaac himself, laughing at his name, and treating him with contempt as his younger brother, and boasting that he was the firstborn, and that the inheritance belonged to him; and threatening what he would do to him, should he hereafter offer to dispute it with him, under pretence of the promise of God that he should be Abraham's heir, and at which promise also he may be supposed to mock: and that this contention was about the inheritance seems plain from the words of Sarah inGenesis 21:10; and in it Ishmael might not only rise to high words, but come to blows, and beat his brother; for it is observed the word used sometimes so signifies, 2 Samuel 2:14; wherefore the apostle might truly call it a persecution, Galatians 4:29; and as even cruel mockings are, Hebrews 11:35http://bible.cc/genesis/21-9.htm

I also used to wonder why Abraham didn't make sure Hagar and Ishmael had enough water and food to go on their trip. But the commentaries said they had enough but they got lost in the desert. When the water and food was gone and they were dying, it was then that Hagar prayed. God appeared immediately and gave her more than she prayed for. He saved their lives and promised to be with them.

"God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, "What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation." Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt." Genesis 21:17-21

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Why Did God Destroy Sodom?

God was visiting at Abraham's home. He had just eaten a meal with him and told him he was going to have a son next year. God rose up to leave and then said to himself, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?" God decided he would tell Abraham why he had come down to earth.

"The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to me; and if not, I will know."

Since the Bible says over and over that God knows and sees everything, why would God say he had come to see if what he had heard was true? I believe he came down to show us that he is a righteous judge and will only do what he has to do to help the world. Some people are so evil they have to be put away from society, the Sodomites were people like this.

What outcry had God heard that he would come down himself? If the Sodomites treated everyone the way they treated the angels who came to visit, then there would have been a great outcry from the strangers and aliens who passed through Sodom. The families of people they harmed may have asked God to intervene.

In Ezekiel 16:49-50 God says, "Behold, this was the guilt of you sister Sodom; she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it."

The men of Sodom were not homosexuals, they were rapists. There is a huge difference between the two. These men were violent and obviously liked to hurt people. They were harming people who had innocently walked into town. What if this happened in your city? What would the government do? I think the National Guard might be called in and there would be a curfew. People would be arrested and go to jail.

Sometimes God has to step in and stop evil from continuing. I trust God that he knows what he is doing. He told Abraham he would not destroy the city if only ten good people lived there, but he did not find ten. He found one: Lot, Abraham's nephew. The angels took hold of him and his daughters and wife and dragged them out of Sodom in order to save their lives.

Friday, June 1, 2012

God Comes Down in Human Form.

God and two angels assumed human form and came to visit Abraham. They stood near his tent at noon; Abraham didn't know who they were at first, but he ran out to meet them and invite them in for food and rest. This is a good example of hospitality and Paul cites this story: "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:2

"Then the LORD said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son." Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him.

So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, "After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?"

Then the LORD said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Will I really have a child, now that I am old?'
"Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son."
Sarah was afraid, so she denied it, saying, "I didn't laugh." But the LORD said, "No, you did laugh."

I love so much about this story; Abraham's gracious hospitality, the fact God came down to visit and talk with Abraham which shows how much he loves us, how he didn't get angry at Sarah for laughing but he did call her on it! But my favorite verse is when God said, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?"

No. To the one who could create the vast universe and fill it with wisdom and beauty; nothing is too hard for the Lord.