Saturday, December 29, 2012

My Secret to A Life of 70 Years

People say I am too active and look too young to be 70 years old.  They want to know my secret.  I have looked younger than my age all of my life.  A lot of it is probably due to heredity.  My mom always looked young for her age. When I was a teen, people use to think she was my older sister. 

Living a clean life:  I was never a party girl and don’t smoke or drink and never have.  I think those things take a tole on your skin and overall health. 

Attitude:  Attitude is also a key.  You take what life has given you and you make the best of it.  You should never throw yourself a pity party.  Look at all your blessings and thank God for them.  Also always look for the good in people and in life.

Being thankful:  I thank God that I have always had good health, plenty of food to eat, shelter over my head, parents that loved and provided for me as a child, a good job making good money, and a husband and children who love me and are there with me through all the ups and downs. I also now have grandchildren who are the joy of my life.  I think they may be keeping be active and young, too.

Church and Christian friends:  There is also my church and many Christian friends who are always there to encourage, support, and pray for me.  Fellowship with other Christians has always been very important.  If you don’t have a church or Christian friends, you are missing out on many blessings God has for you.  We all need good friends to do life together. 

Don’t worry:  I never really worry about tomorrow, because I know God will take care of it.  When my husband was laid off from work, I looked at it as a new chapter in life.  Then God provided a better job.  When my company was downsized and I lost my job, I never worried about it either.  I got a better job making more money that before.  Then a few years later, that company moved out of state and I lost that job.  Again, I never worried.  I took that opportunity and retired.  Now my life is better than ever before.  Through all the changes in finances due to job losses, we still survived. 

It is God who blesses:  Most of all it is God who has blessed me.  I know God is in control.  He will take care of tomorrow.  He always wants what is best for me.  All I can do is try to live a life pleasing to Him, stay trusting Him, stay on my knees, and He takes care of the rest.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Genesis 14 – 15:1

This chapter reveals Abram’s love for family, his willingness to take risks for the right cause, his leadership capabilities, his humility in victory and his motives for going to war.

Genesis 14:1-16 - War

How do you define victory?
What does it mean to win?

4 kings known as Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goiim went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeloiim, and the king of Bela.  For 12 years the latter 5 kings had been subject to Kedorlaomer.  They had enough and decided they would not pay tribute anymore so they rebelled.  Elam today is known as Iran and Shinar is known as Iraq.  During this war they seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and captured Abram's nephew Lot and his possessions. - Gen. 14:1-12

Lot had chosen to live in Sodom.  It was a wicked place, but he didn't seem to be concerned or how it would affect his family.  Lot's choices contributed to his being taken captive.  He chose wealth and worldly values.  He chose to settle where the land was rich and fertile.  He did not consider the consequences and did not ask God for guidance.

Abram was probably aware of the turmoil of the region and had formed allies.  He had trained 318 men and was prepared for war at any time.  One man escaped and reported to Abram that Lot had been captured.  Abram called on his 318 men for help.  Why does  scripture say 318?  We are not sure, but it doesn't matter.  They represented 318 lives and       318 yeses that were ready and willing when needed.  It shows that every person matters to God.  These men used proper tactics for the situation and pursued the armies driving them north of Damascus. - Gen. 14:15.  Abram shows us the proper attitude and action we ought to have and take when the stakes are high, but the cause is righteous.  Abram was willing to take risks.

Even though Lot and Abram had separated previously because of disagreements, Abram came to his rescue.  He gave him a renewed life and a redeemed life.  Now Lot had an opportunity to make better choices.

Living prepared and willing to obey God wins spiritual battles.

The Christian life can be filled with times that are risky. - 2 Cor. 11:23-28.  The cause is the highest, the salvation of men.  Abram is a great example of boldness in the face of danger, when the cause is right.  Lot was not prepared.  He was caught up in the world.  God got his attention.  Is God trying to get your attention?  All believers live in a war against evil.  We can stand against the devil's schemes by putting on the full armor of God.  The weapons Christians are to use against spiritual enemies are found in Eph. 6:10-18"Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."

Living outside God's will is a form of capture.  Do you consider yourself prepared for attack against evil?  The biggest battle we face in life is for our soul.

What are some of your spiritual battles you face?
Is your battle to trust God?
Is your battle to surrender control to God?
Is your battle to obey Him?
Is your battle to give, when you think you can't?
Is your battle to serve, when you think you have nothing to give?
Is your battle fear, pride, jealousy?

God's Word helps us see it's a spiritual battle and how to respond.  The world entices us to believe what we think we need and don't have.  Abram could have said to Lot, "You made your bed, now you have to lie in it" or "I hope someone will talk some sense into him" or "I have my own life and demands and I don't have time".  But Abram's heart showed no anger or resentment toward Lot.

We have become desensitized to sin in the world.  There are those who are held captive to their pain, quilt from the past, heartbroken, disparate, in habitual sin, etc.  How will you get involved with those held captive?  How will you help?  How will you surrender your heart to God and get involved?

Living prepared means go when God says  go.  Ask God to show you how to set a captive free.  It may take a lot of your time and a lot of prayer.  Are you willing to invest in God's redeeming work of great cost?  We will never understand what Jesus gave up to save us.  Abram believed God would guide him.  He shows us the heart of Jesus.  Jesus rescued us from captivity and paid the price on the cross for our sins, when we didn't deserve it.

Genesis 14:17-24 - 15:1 - Worship

After Abram defeated Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, Melchizedek king of Salem brought bread and wine and blessed Abram.  Melchizedek was the priest of God Most High. - Gen. 14:18-20.  Melchizedek was a picture of the coming Christ and His work.  They were alike in that both were kings and high priests forever.  There is no mention of Melchizedek's birth or death.  This is a symbol of Jesus, both are from God.  Hebrews 7 tells us that Jesus is a High Priest like Melchizedek.

Melchizedek came to give Abram strength after the battle.  Abram was probably very tired and he reminded him that the victory belonged to God.  Abram's response was to worship God and give God a 10th of everything.  This was Abram's way of acknowledging that the victory belonged to God.

True victory is the worship and glory of God in an ungodly world.

What is your battle - fear, family, health, lost hope?  Jesus is your High Priest and is praying for you He knows what you need.
What does your victory look like?  Victory is when God is glorified.
How can your battle be a worship to God?
Life with God is the ultimate victory.  What do you need to do to say "no" to the world's offer?
Do you see love demonstrated through Abram?
What do you consider victory?  Is it when it turns out the way you wanted or when God is glorified?  When the true God is worshipped, that is victory!

What can you say about Christ as Priest that will help others:
To a discouraged Christian - Jesus is always there for you.  He always listens and answers prayers.  He always forgives, if you repent.  It's never too late to turn to Him.  He will never forsake you.
To a tempted Christian - Jesus was tempted in every way and He knows what you are going through.  He resisted temptation and you can to.  Just ask Him to help you.  Read His Word and don't stop praying and never give up.
To yourself - He always listens when I pray and always answers my prayers.  It may not be what I think I want, but it is always in my best interest.  He loves me and wants the best for me.  We are all discouraged at times and tempted daily.  I just need to keep trusting and praying.

Lessons we learn from Abram:
For love of family Abram was willing to attack the armies.
He was prepared for what evil was to come.
He was a leader by calling on his 318 trained men to rescue Lot.
He trusted and followed God, which contributed to his victory.
He displayed humility when blessed by the priest even after such great victory.
When the king of Sodom offered for him to keep all the goods, Abram showed that he didn't go to war for money.  He didn't use Lot to enrich himself with the possessions of the helpless.   He returned those things that did not belong to him to the rightful owner.
He was a witness to the king of Sodom by not keeping the goods for himself.

Do you have Abram's love for family?
Do you have his willingness to take risks for the right cause?
Do you exercise the kind of leadership that he did?
Are you prepared for future evils?
Is there someone or situation the Lord has set on your heart for you to respond to?
Do you give a tithe to your local church?
Do you give 10%?
Are there other gifts that you give the Lord to celebrate your appreciation towards Him?
God wants us to be liberal givers, because God has given so much to us.      

God reassures Abram that he did the right thing and tells him to not be afraid for God will always be with him.  "Do not be afraid, Abram.  I am your shield, your very great reward." - Gen. 15:1  God always provides and protects His children.                   

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Genesis 13:5-18

1.  Genesis 13:5-9 – Abram Choses Sacrifice
2.  Genesis 13:10-13 – Lot Choses Sodom
3.  Genesis 13:14-18 – God Reassures Abram

Genesis 13:5-9 – Abram Choses Sacrifice

Abram faces another life challenge with Lot.  Abram was the elder and leader of this journey.  There was not enough grass and the land could not support both Abram and Lot’s flocks.  The herdsmen became frustrated and they began to quarrel.  Abram was the true spiritual leader and was ready to sacrifice his own right letting Lot choose to stay or go where he was.  Abram showed growth from his last choice.  He showed a different priority.  He chose peace and called Lot a brother. – Gen. 13:8.  He realized life with God was   worth trusting at all costs.  He knew it would be stressful, but yields his rights to Lot.  “Let’s part company.  If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.” Gen. 13:9.

God’s priority requires worldly sacrifice.

Abram’s attitudes and actions are examples for Christians who disagree with one another. 
Gen. 15:5-13 – We are to compromise and work out our differences.
1 Cor. 6:1-8 – We are not to bring lawsuits against another believer.
Eph. 4:1-3 – We are to be completely humble, gentle, patient and keep unity.
Eph. 4:31-5:2 – We are to get rid of bitterness, rage, anger.  We are to be kind, compassionate and forgiving.

During the famine Abram took matters into his own hands.  How are you trying to manage people or out come?
How is God calling you to let go of what you think you deserve?  True prosperity is living right with God.  Abram was right with God. 
Few things turn away the non-believer like a quarrelling Christian.  Is your squabbling impacting your witness? 
Do others see that God’s people handle things differently or the same? 
Do you let practicable problems grow into spiritual problems?
How will  you let God lead you today in your problems?

Genesis 13:10-13 – Lot Choses Sodom

Lot chose the Jordan plain because was well watered, like the garden of the Lord and like the land of Egypt. – Gen. 13:10.  He chose that land for himself.  He was what we call a carnal Christian.  He lived on the edge of God’s will.  Carnal Christians keep their eye on the world.  Lot was spiritually immature.  There is no mention of him building an altar or calling on the name of the Lord for guidance.  However 2 Peter 2:7 tells us that Lot was a righteous man.  It’s easy to be like Lot.  He let his eyes make his choices.  He chose by sight not by faith.  The land was like Egypt.  In Egypt he became rich so he thought the rich land would be an easier life for him.  He got all his wealth while staying with Abram, but showed no gratitude.  Lot should have insisted that Abram choose first.  He didn’t trust God with his wealth and probably thought he would lose it if he did.

Abram stayed in Canaan and while Lot lived near the city of Sodom.  Sodom was very wicked, but he was not concerned on how it would impact his family.  By his choice he lost his property, his wife and his daughters to this sinful place and as we know God eventually destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.  His choice showed the priority of his heart.

Our choices reveal our heart and impact our future.

How can you resist the world ways?
What does your choice reveal about your heart? 
Do you feel short changed, hurt, afraid, need control, and not sure you trust God?
What do your choices teach you about you?
Lot probably thought he could have the best of both worlds.  How are you trying to live in both worlds?
This Christmas do you say “This Christmas I’m going to make it all about Jesus.”?
How can you submit your plans as your celebrate Christmas?

Genesis 13:14-18 – God Reassures Abram

Abram was probably disappointed and sadden that he was taken advantage of by Lot.  God said “Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west.”Gen. 13:14.  He’s saying look where you are; God is still on the throne and is still in charge.  Lot looked at the land and saw what seemed to be good now.  Abram was down in the dumps, but God says not to worry.  What He will give him is much better.  Abram doesn’t just say I believe, he gets up and acts. – Gen. 13:18.

Focusing on God’s Word and worship will strengthen us to move forward on our journey of faith.

Do you have a Lot in our life?
Is their choice concerning you?  You know you have to let them go and look up right where you are.
How are you going to respond to this passage? 
Do you have a wayward child, a financial problem, a job loss?
Will you respond like Abram?
Will you make your priority align with His?
How do we respond to Him?  Do it through God’s Word and through worship.
How do you make his Word and worship a daily priority?  The world will not help you.