Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Genesis 27- The Blessing of the Father

So many parents today have lost the importance of blessing their children. A blessing instills a vision for the child's life that only the older generation with greater perspective can offer. In this chapter, Isaac plans to bless Esau the oldest child, but through trickery ends up blessing Jacob the younger.

Rebekah didn't need to take the blessing from Esau to secure the blessing on Jacob. She had been told that Jacob would be blessed of God. Yet in some strange way God uses even this trickery to demonstrate to Isaac that Jacob is his chosen. But this deception would deeply hurt his father and bring threats on his life from his brother.

While blessing our children is a privilege we do not want to let pass, when we become born again into the Spirit, we receive the greatest blessing. We have the hope of Heaven and His Spirit within us here. Passage after passage give us vision for our future and wisdom for the days we live in.

You don't have to worry about the blessing being in limited supply because God has enough love that every human could have this blessing if only they would accept it.

Your parents may not have given you their blessing but child of God you are blessed. Jeremiah 29:11 is God's blessing for you today. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Accept this blessing today and know you have the best of all futures - eternity in Heaven and grace for the day!

May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Genesis 26 - The Perils of Compromise

This chapter starts by informing us that there was a famine in the land. Isaac goes to the King of Philistia and must have been planning to go on to Egypt because The Lord appears directly to him to warn him to stay in the land and God would bless him there and be with him.

You would think that this would provide Isaac some comfort that he could live on the high road and be assured of protection from God, but he decides to compromise his relationship with Rebekah to secure his own safety. Didn't he learn anything from his father's mistakes? Perhaps that is precisely where he learned it. There is a lesson in parenting there that we can't spend time on right now.

Isaac tells the men of the land that Rebekah is his sister so that he can live there in peace and safety. Abimelech the King sees him cavorting with Rebekah and calls him out on his lie. Abimelech holds the covenant of marriage higher than Isaac because he recognizes that if his men were to have slept with Rebekah they would have sinned. After explaining to the King his thinking, he is allowed to live in the land and God makes him wealthy. In envy, the men of the land create strife causing him to move further and further away. Finally once he gets far enough away to live in peace the King comes to strike a peace agreement with him.

The lessons I think we can learn from this is that we need to stay in close connection with God. If God gives his command he will supply the clear direction to fulfill the command. Notice Isaac didn't feel the need to pray about offering Rebekah as his sister to the men of the land and he didn't feel compelled to pray about the agreement with the king. In both cases his man made solutions brought him strife and grief. No surprise that his favored son Esau got a wife from foreigners. He was following in the footsteps of compromise.

Before we beat Isaac up too much, let's take time to reflect on the ways we have followed that same path. I know when I am in the midst of unbelievers at a meal I hesitate to offer a corporate prayer for the meal but pray silently so as not to disturb the group. How many times have I failed to witness when I was uncomfortable or didn't know what to say. Or perhaps created a solution that seemed to meet God's command but allowed me to live among the world I disturbed. Dear reader the world should be disturbed. Our ways should be God's ways and different from the world. It should make us uncomfortable to live among the world and the world uncomfortable to live with us. When we became Christians our whole heart should be devoted to living for The Lord as living sacrifices, but too often we have compromised.

Let me bring this principle into the realm of financial decisions. How many of us have accumulated debt because we gave into our immediate wants and presumed upon God to continue to supply as he had in the past? How often do we pray before swiping and wait for an assurance of Gods clear direction applied to our lives. Another example, have we failed to be faithful in our giving to God and in reaching out to those in need because we obligate our funds to meeting our current wants? If we had sacrificed even just a little could we have had greater impact for The Lord?

Isaac shows us that compromise may bring the exact opposite effect from the desired goal. Let's us make a practice of prayer and applying ourselves to obedience rather than making a way for ourselves that compromises with the world. It will be the harder way but in the end it may make us stand apart from the world enough that people say, "I see God has blessed you". A challenge from God's word to us.

Father, we want to serve you well and we recognize that we live in a world that is sometimes hostile to you. Help us to live wisely and let our witness shine brightly for you. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Genesis 25 - Wasting Our Blessing

In Chapter 25 of Genesis we find the story of Jacob and Esau. If you have been a believer long, you probably know the story well. Esau came home presumably from a day of hunting game and was hungry; he sees Jacob cooking stew and begs for some.

Now we could chastise Jacob for being conniving but bottom line is that Esau gave up a spiritual benefit in favor of a little comfort in the "now". That is where we also find ourselves. We must choose between the temporal and the eternal on a daily basis. We all have the desire to avoid suffering, but sometimes bearing with a little discomfort can yield much richer benefits in the long run.

Jesus himself gave up the glory of Heaven in order to accomplish the mission of sacrificing himself for the benefit of our eternal souls. Jesus paid a price he didn't have to and suffered for us so that we could have redemption from the slavery of sin.

I don't want to get political, but this seems to be precisely the issue we faced in our last election. The majority of the nation selected the option of keeping government entitlements for the now while sacrificing future options.

I don't want to get personal here, and forgive me if I step on toes, but don't we do they same when we become reliant on credit to sustain our current needs while forfeiting long term options for our own future?

Our modern day Jacob's still exist and they wait to take advantage of those who are ill-prepared and foolish. They are ready with scams, high cost loans, manipulation of all sorts. As good stewards we should be wise and consider the long term as well as the short when making our choices.

Greed and the avoidance of discomfort are ingrained in our sin nature, but sometimes the better option is only available with the discomfort of hard work and sacrifice. In the pain, God speaks to our hearts and reminds us of his sovereignty. In suffering we abandon our self-reliance and pray to the one who is able to help us.

In Luke 9:23-25, Jesus said, "if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and yet lose or forfeit his very self."

The last words of the chapter say it best - so Esau despised his birthright. Let it never be said of you dear friend that you abandoned the hope you have for all eternity in favor of a little comfort here. The world is watching us; will we choose to live like they do or will we live like Christ before them?

Dear Heavenly Father, we have temptations all around us and our sin nature desires pleasures that would not honor you. Help us to reject our sin nature and to embrace your cross as our hope of eternal deliverance from evil. In our daily choices, help us to be wise and honor you above all earthly comforts. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.