What A Relief!

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And what a relief to see your friendly smile. It is like seeing the face of God! Genesis 33:10

Everyone is fighting a battle most others would know nothing about right… so maybe if we could allow God to push through us more of His character into the world we might notice the whole world beginning to change – one simple friendly smile at a time!

It’s encouraging to know that the very first Adam had needs, wants, desires and was probably pretty lonely, all of which God took notice (Gen. 2:18) and cared. It’s interesting isn’t it that it was in REST that God met Adam’s needs with Eve (Gen. 2:21-23).

What a relief to know that the God who knit your heart together knows your needs and desires too. Dear one, if it is on your mind it is on His heart (1 Peter 5:7). Might we, like Adam, rest in abiding (Matt. 11:28) in His faithful love, timing and divine plan as He works all things together for good (Romans 8:28).  He who promised is faithful (Heb. 10:23).

In the life of Jacob we see God’s faithfulness played out. In Genesis 32 Jacob is given a new identity, a new name. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Cor. 5:17 However the very first sentence in chapter 33 states, Then Jacob looked up and saw… yes, Jacob now named Israel looks up and sees the enemy he is so terrified of, approaching!!!

He goes from receiving a new identity straight into an opportunity to grow into it!!!

Tough but not impossible in Christ (Phil. 4:13). Jacob/Israel is up for the challenge and continues to walk with God. We see in Gen. 28:21 Jacob tells God that if God will bring him back SAFELY he will be his God not just the God of his father or friends but he would receive Him as his God.

20 years… yes 20 years goes by and God is faithful and true and never leaves Jacob/Israel. God even takes the time to reconfirm His faithful promise to him in Gen. 35:10 that He made in Gen. 32:28.

Maybe on your journey you just need God to reaffirm that you are going in the right direction OR to redirect you if you are not; to encourage you to keep going, keep smilin’ because only roads titled “lost” can lead to “found” right!

The same God who knew Jacob would need encouragement along the way is the same God who knew the desires in the depths of Adams heart and is the same God who also knows, hears, cares and sees yours too. (Heb. 13:8)

Genesis 33:18 records God’s faithfulness beautifully. Remember how in Gen. 28:21 decades earlier Jacob asked God to bring him safely?… well, Jacob arrived safely (28:21) back to the promised land of Canaan. (Verse 20) And there he built an alter and named it El-Elohe-Israel. (That means, God the God of Israel) so just as Jacob had said years before that if he saw God’s faithfulness he would claim Him as His own God and he did!

We have God’s living active Word that proves His faithfulness. Jesus died on the cross for our sin so that we could be set free, free to take on a new identity in Him and live eternally if only we would believe (John 3:16). 2 Timothy 4:18 tells us we too indeed arrive SAFELY!

What a relief right!! Praise the mighty victorious name of Jesus, who knows, cares, understands, loves, hears and sees you. Keep walking with Him, keep smilin’ (cuz someone else might need it), and you will, like Adam, like Jacob, find Him faithful.

Oh what a relief.

Independent read: 2 Timothy 2:13

 

Availability vs. Ability ?!

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Now pay attention! I’m here with you, and I’m going to be watching over you wherever you go. I’m going to bring you back to this land, because I won’t ever leave you until I’ve accomplished what I’ve promised about you. Genesis 28:15 (ISV)

This is what I like to call a locker room verse. You know, the kind that as you are heading toward those double doors that lead out to the playing field of life and the I AM coach stops you in your tracks cuz He’s got one more Word for you.

“Hey mighty warrior!” You think, I’m sure He meant the guy that just left. But He calls again, louder this time, “Hey mighty warrior!!” You slow but still can’t believe He would be addressing you.

When all of a sudden you are spun around to face Him! With His mighty hand He grabs the face mask on your helmet of salvation so that you have to fix your eyes with His as He calls YOU His mighty warrior (despite how unqualified and unlikely you feel) and pours the truth of Genesis 28:15 in high definition and with great exclamation into your soul!

It’s not about ability it’s about AVAILability.

We can constantly live in the fear of the unknown, the question mark of life OR we choose to live in the fearless freedom that comes from the exclamation of His faithful promises!

If you were to draw an eye on the end of a question mark symbol which way does it face? DOWN right! Now if you draw an eye on the end of an exclamation point symbol which way does it face? UP!

If I am going to live fearlessly confident in the exclamation of God’s faithful promises I can’t keep my eyes down cast on my own feet, on my own lack of ability and resources. I must fix my eyes up on Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of faith. (Heb. 12:2)

In Genesis 32 we see Jacob getting ready to step out of the locker room so to speak as he returns to the promised land at God’s direction. Verse 7 states, Jacob was terrified but how do we see he responds to his fear and questions… verse 9, Then Jacob prayed…

When I’m threatened by life’s unknown I can run around frantic in fear or I can take captive all my thoughts (2 Cor. 10:5) and bring them to God in prayer.

Jacob gives us a good example of how to pray when we are questioning… am I going the right way, am I making the right choice, am I going to make it, how, why…???

To highlight a few phrases from Jacob’s prayer recorded in Gen. 32:9-12…

(9) O LORD, you told me… And you promised me… (10) I am not… I owned nothing… Now my house fills… (11) O LORD, please rescue… I am afraid… (12) But you promised me…

Jacob goes back to abide in God’s faithful promises – he remembers who he is not and Who God is – he honestly places before God his feelings and requests – but ends like he started, resting in His faithful promises! Because God is the Alpha and Omega (Rev. 22:13) and finishes what He starts (Phil. 1:6)! Praise Jesus!!

So where are you today? 1 Cor. 3:16 states, Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 

I tell you what, if we know the answer to that question we should be living it out in exclamation!! The Spirit of the Living God dwells in me, whom or what shall I fear!!! (Psalm 27:1)

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4

Don’t fear your lack of ability to be, to figure it out, to fix, to know… rather just give Jesus your AVAILability in His Word and in prayer and watch your life straighten out from a question mark state to an exclamation mark type adventure! (John 10:10)

Independent Read: Jude 1:24-25

The Gift Of The Seed

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For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. 2 Cor. 9:10

Sometimes I think we can completely miss God’s answer to our prayers! We may be praying so hard expecting Him to show up with the “harvest” we’ve been praying for when if I read that verse above, what does it say God provides for the farmer, the sower… for you and I?

THE SEED!!

The answer to our prayers may show up in the form of a seed and who can tell the potential of a seed unless the work is done to plant it? If we are not careful that seed God so graciously provided as an answer to our prayers may look like a whole lot of work (blood, sweat and tears). It may even just get swept up in the trash and thrown out if we don’t take time with Him in prayer and in His Word so that He can give us eyes and ears to perceive it for what it truly is (Matt. 13:16)! The answer to our prayers!!

God provides the seed… its our job to sow it to His glory… AND THEN because it is only God who makes things grow (1 Cor. 3:7)… He provides the bread, the harvest from the sown or spent seed!!

and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. Isaiah 58:10 

When we recognize it’s obedience to Him in even the small things and in the things that didn’t make sense (like tiny seeds)… that it was in keeping the faith when all was weary and seemed lost… that the harvest in our hearts began to sprout!

The harvest of our prayers came AFTER recognizing that the answer to our prayers was in the form of a seed to be sown into the lives of others for Him. It’s then we see the seed He gave us was much bigger and more plentiful than we ever thought possible!

The seed He gives us, if planted will produce the fruit of Him in our lives. Others will get to taste and see that He is the bread of life (John 6:35), the source of true abundant life (John 10:10), love, meaning, purpose and hope that the world is so desperately craving! …and then even your night will become like the noonday!

He is God of the harvest that entrusts us with the gift of seed-like answers to our prayers as an opportunity to deepen our relationship with Him through trust and faith for His glory and kingdom.

Praise Jesus for the gift of the seed and for being God of the harvest.

Independent Read: Matt. 13:18-23, Gal. 6:9, John 4:34

 

 

 

Wonder Or Worship

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Before I had finished praying in my heart, I saw… Genesis 24:45

Abraham asked his servant to find a good wife for his son Isaac and his servant, wanting to fulfill his masters request successfully, prayed to God for help in this matter.

Gen. 24: (12) O LORD, God of my master, Abraham, he prayed. Please give me success today, and show unfailing love… (14) This is my request. I will ask one of them, ‘Please give me a drink from your jug.’ If she says, ‘Yes, have a drink, and I will water your camels, too!’ –let her be the one you have selected as Isaac’s wife. This is how I will know that you have shown unfailing love..

Now this was no small prayer. The servant Eliezer had taken with him 10, yes 10 camels and just ONE camel can drink up to 25 gallons after a weeks travel! (Did I mention he had TEN camels with him?!) You do the math… 25 GALLONS times 10 camels… Yikes! Now how likely are you going to find a gal you don’t know, and who does not know you, to offhandedly just offer to freely water those camels!!!?!

Yet… scripture indicates (verse 15) that BEFORE he was even through praying God was bringing one such a gal! How good is God, how amazing!!

Do you need a reminder today that God is always working on answering your prayers in His perfect way and in His perfect timing too… even as you are praying them?

When this gal Rebekah offered to take on this monumental task that the servant had specifically requested in his prayer regardless of how humanly unlikely it would have been to have come by… I found myself amazed at the servants reaction. Verse 21 indicates, The servant watched her in silence, wondering whether or not the LORD had given him success in his mission. HELLO SON, YES HE HAD! HOW MUCH MORE SPECIFIC DO YOU NEED GOD TO GET?!!!!

But you know… how often do I waste time just wondering when I should be worshiping!!

God is SO good and worthy of our worship …even in our wonderings.  Because even when things are unclear to us, He clearly has it under control… and is always working. (John 5:17)

For I know the plans… Jeremiah 29:11 And praise Him that He does right!!

Independent Read: Psalm 66:20

Plant Your Tamarisk

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Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba, and there he worshiped the LORD, the Eternal God. Genesis 21:33

Beersheba was located in desert land. Are you in a desert land so to speak? Have you given up on something you used to have hope for?

Abraham was given a promise from God and gaining this well in the desert land of Beersheba was just one more stake in that faithful promise. I find it interesting that Abraham names the place Beersheba which means “well of the oath”. In Jesus we have all been given a well of faithful promises.

2 Corinthians 1:20 For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes”! And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.

Have I taken time in prayer and in His Word to get to know those faithful promises?

As soon as Abraham claimed the well he planted a tamarisk tree right there!! Now you can even see the word risk in tamarisk can’t you?! A tamarisk tree requires a lot of water and where is Beersheba located… the DESERT! Risky move Ab.

To take a step out in faith often feels like a risk. Like planting a tamarisk tree in the middle of the desert. But if you are planting near the “well of the oath”, if you are planting a stake in one of Eternal God’s faithful promises…

Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, so ignore them. Matthew 15:13-14

…you can trust that you will be held steadfast in His love (Psalm 136:16).

If the Eternal God, the great I Am resurrection and life has promised you, than you can risk planting your seed of hope (even in the desert land) because it will flourish… in His timing and in His way.

Romans 4:18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him…

Don’t give up hope – in Jesus this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us…Romans 5:5

Jesus loves you. Plant your tamarisk tree on that dear one. (John 3:16, Matt. 28:20)

Independent Read: Romans 15:13

9 Questions And Moving

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But God listened to Abraham’s request and kept Lot safe… Genesis 19:29

The number 9 is used 49 times in the Bible. It conveys the meaning of finality and as I read Genesis chapters 18-19 I can see God in all His graciousness had allowed Abraham to ask Him question after question after question, but after question number 9 in chapter 18 verse 33 it states, …the LORD had finished his conversation with Abraham... it doesn’t say Abraham ran out of questions, it says the LORD had finished, it was time to move on.

I’m grateful for God’s seemingly infinite patience with me and my endless list of whys and hows, but I too think there comes a point like in the conversation between God and Ab that I just need to stop. I need to stop and just trust. Trust His character. Trust He is who He says He is. Trust that He will do what He promises… because is anything too hard for the LORD? 18:14 

No, nothing is too hard for Him! So even if I don’t have all the answers… THE answer is to keep my eyes, not on my own resources (because that will just end me up in a defeated heap of discouragement) but on the Source of all resources!

The Source knows the root of your need, want, desire even better than you do. It struck me that in Genesis 19:29 it states that God listened to Ab and kept his nephew safe but interestingly, in all the questions Ab asked God he never specified that his concern for the city was rooted in his concern for his nephews life. God already had it figured out and knew the depths of Abraham’s hearts concern, and He cared!!

When we can’t trace God’s hand we can trace His heart by looking to the cross.

Dear Jesus, thank You for Your great love, for opening a way through Your death and resurrection for us to have an intimate relationship with You both now and for eternity. Thank You for Your patience to sit with us as we ask all our questions and for loving us enough to encourage us to move on and trust who You remain to be – steadfast and true. That we might find in all our uncertainty, that You are certain. That Truth is final. Praise You! Amen.

Independent Read: Jeremiah 33:3, Psalm 27:14

No… Think Bigger

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But God replied, “No-Sarah, your wife, will give birth to a son for you. Gen. 17:19

Genesis 16 relays a problem that is dealt with in various ways. To back it up a bit, Abraham was given a super charged promise from God yet no one was seeing evidence of it becoming reality. So Sarah, Abraham’s wife decides she better just handle this for God.

Ever been there? … Don’t worry God I know you got a lot on Your plate right now so I’ll just take this one thing and handle it for You. (If you have never been there great! However I can vouch that 100+/100+ times it’s never worked out well for me when I’ve taken this approach to problems! Note to self: STOP trying this method!!!)

Secondly I see in Genesis 16 that Abraham rather than stand in faithful trust on God’s timing and way he participates in Sarah’s wayward plan but than takes the hands off approach in trying to fix it! Maybe he figures if he ignores it long enough it will fix itself?! (Personally ignoring the problem is like ignoring a stone in your shoe it doesn’t go away it creates massive blisters that can get infected and cause gang green which leads to amputation and… well you get the gruesome picture right!? Bottom line: don’t ignore problems…or participate in creating them!)

Thirdly I see a third party get roped into the problem. Ecc. 4:12 says a cord of three strands is not easily broken, so if the third party to your problem is not God than you are just going to end up with a bigger problem!

Hagar our third party handles the problem by running away. In Gen. 16:8 God meets her in flight and asks her where she is going. Now God only asks us questions to get US to figure out something (He already knows the answer folks). In Hagar’s attempt to run she finds she can’t run from God (and neither can we). What does God tell her to name the baby inside her that seems to be causing such an issue… Ishmael which means God hears!!! Dear one, God hears what’s on your heart too! You may want to run but He’s there to embrace you if you’ll run to Him and like Hagar we will find that He is El Roi. God not only hears but sees you!

You are more deeply loved than you could ever even fathom – yes YOU.

Now jumping forward to Genesis 17 we see that in spite of all the tangled messes we weave God is still able! Amen! Abraham in verse 17 bows down to the ground before God but laughs because he just can’t fathom how God is ever going to be able to handle this… Abraham basically rationalizes with God and says, God great idea but really that is impossible, it will never work! Do you see me, do you see my wife, we could never do or be who You are wanting… let me give You a suggestion God, why don’t You just…

Ever been there? …God there is just no way. Either You need another plan or You need another person, cuz there is just no way! And if You need a few suggestions I have some God so ah.. just let me know. (Note to self: God is into blowing our minds with the unexpectedly impossible and He doesn’t loose battles so to start one with Him never ends well for me.) So in verse 19 God simply tells Abraham, no. We are doing it My way Ab… for your own good.

And that is just it, it IS for our own good (Rom. 8:28)! God is good all the time. All the time God is good and yes that takes walking by faith and not sight (2 Cor. 5:7) and keeping a heavenly mindset because this life on earth is just a vapor our reality is in heaven and that is to be our focus (James 4:14, Col. 3:1-2, 2 Tim. 4:18).

So today Lord, help me to think bigger because You are bigger, bigger than any waves in life that would pose a threatening problem. The waves may look big but they are still under Your feet so help me to walk out there on them with You because You are bigger. Praise the mighty victorious name of Jesus!

Independent Read: Eph. 3:20-21, Matt. 19:26