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 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.
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 14-16 Job asks the age-old question: “man dies and is powerless, he expires – and where is he?” and “if a man dies, will he live again?” Job struggled, but Jesus gave the answer: I am the way to the afterlife; believe in me.
It seems that all religions/faiths believe in some form of afterlife, but the real question is what Job asked: “will he live again?” The resurrection of Jesus proves that there is life after death. Jesus spoke of the reality of our destiny in [Luke 16:19-31]. Two men, Lazarus, and the rich man die. Jesus pulls back the curtain into eternity to show us that our destiny is sealed while we are alive.
Our witness to that truth is Jesus Christ, who “died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures and that he appeared.” [1Cor 15:3-7] He appeared to not just Peter but to the many that went forth to tell the world: yes, there is life after death.
From Jesus, we can know that yes, we will live again. The question all need to ask is: where will you and I spend eternity? The two thieves on the cross and the story Jesus told in [Luke 16; Luke 23:39-42] tell us that man must choose NOW for once death comes, there is no return ticket to this earthly life.
What will you choose?
Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life.” [Jn 10:40 and Jn 5:24].
Our world is spinning and people are wandering and wondering. They wonder about tomorrow and the next day and the next, but we who know the God of the universe do not need to wonder. For the believer the future does lie before us but we need not fear for God holds the future and He holds us in the palm of His hand: “Look, I have inscribed yourname on my palms.” [Isa 49:16] “For I know what I haveplanned for you,’ says the Lord.” I haveplans to prosper you, not to harm you. I haveplans to give youa future filled with hope.”[ Jer 29:11]
Zechariah and Mary faced a future written in eternity past. One would become a father to John the Baptist, the voice in the wilderness. One would become the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is not the author of confusion but of order. His timing is perfect and he holds the key to our future. He is the God of impossibilities. Zacharias’ future lay before him but he needed or desired confirmation. Mary’s future lay before her and she submitted willingly. When God comes with a word regarding your future how do you respond? Are you like Zacharias needing a sign or like Mary willingly submitting to whatever God has planned because you believe “The steps of a person are ordained by the Lord” [Pro 20:24]
Romans 1 to 4: The gas gauge in our cars registers full or empty. It is our reminder that fuel is needed for our car to work properly and we trust or have faith that those gauges are accurate. Faith is the key to being stranded or not.
In Hebrews chapter 11, Abraham is listed as a man of faith. His faith in the eternal God led him to leave his homeland and seek the land that God promised him. It was his faith that endeared him to God in some of the hardest times he would ever have to face. Over and over, he could echo these words: “Now faith is being sure of what [I] hope for, being convinced of what [I] do not see.” [Heb 11:1] Peter adds; we have not seen God, but we have chosen to love Him. [1Peter 1:8] We choose to love God because “his invisible attributes and his divine nature are visible through creation.” [Rom1:20] Yet…
Some say it may be for you but not for me. However, all are without excuse. We stand condemned and in need of God’s saving grace. His lovingkindness leads us to understand that we all are sinners in His sight; all need His cleansing grace. That was/is the reason God sent Jesus. That is why Paul could say, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes.” [Rom 1:16]
How is your faith gauge today? Does it register full, or are you running on empty?
Luke 1 to 3 The people of Israel waited four hundred years to hear from God and his prophets, but He had been silent. Now in a flash of a moment, God chooses a Gentile author to reveal that He is still at work.
First, God sends an angel to tell Zachariah that he will be a father soon to one who will be like Elijah the Prophet to turn the children’s hearts. Then God sends the angel Gabriel to a peasant girl named Mary with the news that she was to be the mother of His earthly son, the Son of the Most High God, and God will give him the throne of His father, David.
Hearing the angel’s pronouncement, Zacharias responded with, “How can I be sure of this?” Mary asked, “How will this be since I have not been intimate with a man.” Because Zechariah doubted he would be silent until the birth of John. Mary would submit but walk the road before her village as an unwed woman. Her courage came from the angel’s words: “nothing will be impossible with God.”
How often do we stand amazed and wonder how I can be sure? Could it be that we need to assess if we are more like Zachariah or Mary? Remember this truth: “The steps of a person are ordained by the Lord” [Pro 20:24]
Matt 8 to 10 One question Jesus asked those who came seeking healing: Do you believe I can do this? They and we may respond with an affirmative, but it is the action behind our answer that proves whether we believe or not.
Jesus asked the leper: Do you believe I can do this, but even without an answer, Jesus responded with instant healing. How great is His mercy! Then the centurion came and sought healing, but responded that Jesus’ healing powers were so powerful that He could heal without even seeing the afflicted one. What great faith! Seeing his daughter die, the synagogue leader came and asked Jesus to lay his hand on her and restore her to life. Why would he take that step unless he believed in His power? While a storm raged, the fearful disciples woke Jesus up and heard him ask: “Why are you cowardly, you people of little faith?”
Jesus tested all of these with one question: Do you believe I can do this? Is our faith in Jesus so strong that we believe with a word, in his presence or not? We say we believe, but our actions prove whether we are just answering or responding in faith.
Daniel 1 to 3 In our study of Ezekiel, we were challenged to live righteously in an unrighteous world. Ezekiel persevered for over 25 yrs. Daniel will do the same for over 70 +/- yrs. Both were models of what it means to be faithful and steadfast in challenging circumstances. Whereas Ezekiel faced his alone, Daniel had three friends to walk with him. All four were nobles or part of the upper class in Jerusalem, yet in Babylon, Ezekiel lived in a refugee camp by the river. Daniel and his three friends lived in somewhat luxurious quarters in the King’s palace. All were used by God to show the other captives and the wicked King that there is only one God, Yahweh.
God allowed Nebuchadnezzar to take the ripe and full-fleshed figs in the first wave and the treasures of the Temple. [see Jer 24] He would protect them by placing the captives in quarantine and the Temple treasures in his god’s treasury. There they would lay protected until the 70 yr. captivity drew to a conclusion.
God allowed all of them to face tests to prove to the Judahites, the King, and us, that God alone is supreme. Daniel and his three friends would face the test of purity vs. defilement and faithfulness vs. unfaithfulness. God blessed them and allowed them to live and work in ungodly environments where they became role models of righteousness.
Today we live and move in a world that is more and more ungodly. We will be presented with tests to prove to others that God is God.