Gaye-Ellen Austin or ( "Miss Gaye") a.k.a. SonShine has a passion to train people to be successful Bible students, that they may teach others to teach yet others (2 Tim 2:15).
She taught 15 years in public schools and 12 years in a Christian school where she was the coordinator of the NILD program for learning disabled students). she has taught Precept upon Precept classes and was a discussion group leader for 10+ yrs in BSF. Also, Gaye-Ellen is the writer for the Bible.org facebook page. She also has her own personal blog page "SonshinesJournal". Gaye-Ellen's goal is to present Christ and live Christ glorifying God.
Neither Jacob nor Laban are considered to be faithful and men of integrity. Their words and actions reveal their hearts, but when Jacob remarks, “my integrity will testify for me later on,” we want to add our yes and amen. How often do we echo words such as those and then wonder where did that thought come from? We want to ask Jacob; Do you really believe that truth, or is this how you want to be known?
Did Jacob really think he was a righteous man? No one is righteous apart from the saving grace of our Lord. [Rom 3:10] God wants us to know this truth: “He/God guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” [Psalm 23]It isn’t for us but for God. He is the master potter, and He molds the clay for His purposes. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand,” [Jer 18:1-6]
We are a sinful people and in need of His righteousness so He can guide us step by step. That is why God has put those words in that psalm. God has given us examples to ask: how is God guiding them; is God guiding me? In the case of Jacob, we can say yes— even though he hasn’t yet come to grips with his deceptive ways, God is at work in his life molding him just as He is in yours and mine.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” [Eph 2:10]
Ge 27 to 29: Isaac and Rebekah were praying parents, yet they seemed to have become impatient in their old age. Much like Sara and Abraham, they decided that God wasn’t doing things on “their” timetable, or surely God had forgotten the “plan.” Jacob is to receive the blessing according to the prophecy yet the seeds of deception which began in the Garden are still alive and well. “Isaac loved Esau…but Rebekah loved Jacob.” [Gen 25:28]That set the stage for the enemy to continue his web of deception and lies; hoodwinking us into thinking this is really what we should do. “Is it really true that God said…” [Gen 3:1] And so, Isaac and Rebekah took matters into their own hands. Surely God must remember that the firstborns are to receive the family and covenantal blessing, right? There is a warning here: God’s plans are higher than ours. [Is 55:9] Isaac’s plan to deceive will soon be circumvented by Rebekah’s, and the pattern will continue for years to come. What a tangled web we weave when we first set out to deceive.
How often are you and I, like Isaac and Rebekah, saying yes to God but later thinking God needs our help to complete the plan. How easily Satan can deceive us to follow his plan and not God’s. Isaiah reminds us that God’s plans are superior to ours. He tests us to see if we will wholly trust both the timetable and the plan! [Is 55:9-12]
Genesis 25 & 26 What is the value of prayer? Why should I pray? What should I pray for? Over and over, the scriptures teach the value of prayer. As we follow the men and women in the pages of this sacred book, we see those who followed the Lord believed in prayer. Prayer is the answer to that which is upon our hearts. “O Lord, hear my prayer!” [Ps 86:6] “Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God.” [Phil 4:6]
After many years, Isaac and Rebekah were still childless, yet Isaac did not seek other women to fill his quiver as others had done. Instead, Isaac “prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife because she was childless.” [Gen 25:21] God remembered Rebekah and opened her womb, a direct response that God was pleased and answered his prayer. Isaac’s example led Rebekah also to seek the face of the Lord when she was wondering what was going on in her womb once she conceived.
In the NT, we find Zechariah offering prayers at the altar of incense at his time of chosen duty. An angel appears and tells him that his prayers for a son have been heard and answered. Truly, “The effective, fervent prayer of the righteous has great effectiveness.”[James 5:16]
Prayer is the divine path to receiving answers from the Lord. What prayer need is on your heart today?
Genesis 22 to 24 When you face a test of your faith and find yourself wavering, return to the story of Abraham. God in His providence tested Abraham’s faith over and over, yet he failed—how like us! Finally, God gave Abraham the hardest test ever; go and sacrifice your only son as a burnt offering on Mt. Moriah—a three-day journey from where he was. We do not see Abraham questioning nor asking for wisdom to understand the why’s. Abraham was not like the waves of the sea as they ebb and flow. [James 1:6] Instead, he was like Paul’s description: steadfast and immovable. [1Cor 15:58] After many failures, Abraham’s faith could trust in Jehovah Jireh (the God who provides), and thus “he was ready to offer up his only son.” [Heb 11:17]
As Abraham and Isaac and the servants traveled, we wonder what his thoughts were—but the scriptures are silent. Instead, Abraham faithfully went about his business as if today was not any different than yesterday. That is how God orchestrates our days; today will be much the same as yesterday and tomorrow. The only inkling Abraham had of what lay ahead was what he told Isaac: “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” [Gen 22:8]
Do we trust God in the hard and easy times as Abraham did?
He is a model for us in trusting God to provide all of our needs.
Gen 19 God is the Living and Holy God who loves purity and hates sin. He is gracious to save and a righteous judge towards the sinful. The book of Genesis provides all of these pictures of God and in contrast, the “man made in His image” as tainted, sinful, and without hope minus the mercy of God.
Abraham’s pure heart is revealed as he asks God if he will destroy the righteous with the wicked. Lot’s heart is revealed as one who wants to be a fence sitter. Even the city dwellers see his hypocrisy. How different Lot is from Noah who lived in the world but was not a part of it. Peter describes Lot as a righteous man, but here we only see him as a man who has lost his testimony in the marketplace and his home. “This man came to live here as a foreigner, and now he dares to judge us!” [Gen 19:9] Even “Mrs.” Lot loves Sodom more than God!
Abraham had begged God for ten righteous to be saved, but only Lot and his two daughters survive. These daughter’s act of incest is living proof of those who do not train up their children to follow God.
What are some lessons we can glean from this passage? (1) God loves the prayers of his saints, and our prayers matter. (2) What you sow you will also reap. (3)We must be as bold as Abraham to pray for those who are perishing.
Gen 16 to 18 Take a walk in the sand and then try to retrace your walk. The path is much like our lives, one step forward and two back. Our heads swirl with the biblical characters whose lives are held up as a model to us, but then we see that their paths are like ours in the sand.
Abram follows God to Canaan but then fails to trust Him in a famine. In Egypt, Abram lies about Sarai to Pharaoh. One of the things God hates most is that of a lying spirit. [Prov 6:17]He is sent away with great wealth and a servant but was it really worth it? Next, Abram had just spent an extended time with God and received from Him the promise of a child from his own loins. We wonder why he then chose to listen to Sarai in the next chapter to impregnate Hagar, the Egyptian servant girl.
Principle: Never promote the cause of God by manipulation. When we try to circumvent God’s plans using human wisdom, nothing good comes from it. [James 3:15] Instead, God’s wisdom is from above and is beyond our comprehension. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights [James 1:17]
Lastly, Hagar meets God and comes to know that God sees everything about us. Hagar then, like Job can know: “But he knows the pathway that I take; if he tested me, I would come forth like gold.” [Job 23:10]
Genesis 12 to 15 How would you rate your obedience level? Are you a 10 or less? Abram is on a fast track learning curve to knowing what obedience requires when asked to leave his home, his father, and go to a land that He would show him. For his obedience, God promises he will father a great nation and more. In addition, others will pay the price for blessing or cursing him. As incredible as this is, Abram fails to follow the first step of leaving his kindred and father’s house. How often does God give us a simple step, and we fail to follow it to the letter! We often say I will trust Him when I see x, y, z. The truth is, we are afraid of that first step because we are not seeing with eyes of faith. A good reminder: “in God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid.” [Ps 56:11] God asks us to obey whether we can see ahead or not; that is what trust is all about.
We often ask how God can ask us to leave an elderly parent or something else. So we have to stop and ask why God wanted Abram to do that. God often asks us these simple yet hard steps to see if we will trust Him to be our total provision. We have to decide: will we trust God who knows the end from the beginning? Do we not think God would have provided if Abram had obeyed?
Are you willing to step out and trust God to be meet all of your needs?
Job is described in Chapter 1 and again in Chapter 42 as God’s servant. Job has been unaware of a spiritual battle between Satan and God. He has never known what that battle was or how God perceived him—until God responds to the three comforters in this last chapter. It is then that God speaks to Eliphaz and says; go to my servant Job—not once but four times!
When we face a trial, does God call you His servants? You may be facing a spiritual battle, but you can be assured of this; believers are God’s servants, and He knows how you and I will face each trial.
Paul reminds us that we not in a wrestling match against flesh and blood. Instead, our battle is against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against evil’s spiritual forces in the heavenly places. [Eph 6:12-13] Therefore, we must put on the whole spiritual armor of God that includes the belt of truth; the breastplate of righteousness, shoes of peace; the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God and stand firm.
What trial are you facing this day? Will God announce to Satan that you are His servant?
Job 38-41 God is God, and He will decide whatever way He wishes. Sometimes He speaks in a soft whisper and sometimes in a whirlwind. “He is not a man that He should change His mind,” nor is he a man who needs to compromise or offer emotions like the man he created. This is a powerful lesson as we wander through the 77 questions He asks Job.
Imagine yourself as Job sitting in your sackcloth and ashes and facing this! We don’t find Job bowing, worshiping, or doing any of the things such as the Apostle John when he fell at his feet as dead. We do find that Job is in listening mode, and that is where we need to be. God will use whatever He chooses to get our attention.
Job 35 to 37 The story of Custer’s last stand has always intrigued me. Custer’s pride was his undoing and in some ways, Elihu is like Custer. He is not ready to stand down until he has had his last word. Dissecting his words, we find both truths mixed with misunderstandings. Elihu is right about one thing: Storms come that we may seek the face of God but do we? Or does our pride keep us from that step?
Elihu is also right in his description of God: He is all of splendor and more. We cannot attain to Him. God is God, and man is man. God is under no obligation to react to people’s actions. He also doesn’t need to provide relief if their prayers are selfish and full of pride.
The truth is this: the time to seek God is early on when hearts are tender and humble. But days come and go with men leaving God out of the equation. God may be grieved and broken-hearted, yet He remains steadfast, allowing them to choose or reject him.
The saddest words I ever heard was: I never needed God in all of my life, and I don’t need him now. Tragically, the men in Noah’s time and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31 show us the results of that philosophy.
Torments await those who reject God. Where are you, my friend?