Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Genesis 25:19 - 28:9

Genesis chapter 12-50 show the spiritual bios of four men chosen by God and through them He would reveal His purpose for all of humanity.  God chose Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.  They were not perfect, but God gives them grace as he gives us today.  God chose Abraham to receive His great promise.  This promise was passed on to his son, Isaac.  In this post our lesson focuses on Isaac’s personal bio.

Genesis 25:19-34 – Submissive Faith Prays

How would you describe your faith? - submissive or striving?

Isaac’s life is characterized by submissive faith.  He knew from the beginning his birth was a miracle.  He knew his parents were devoted to the Lord.  He knew God had special plans for his life even as a small boy.  Isaac was submissive to Abraham in chapter 22.  To be submissive is an act of accepting or yielding to authority.  Being submissive is like being humble or meek. 

There are many scriptures on how God views the humble and meek:
Numbers 12:3 – Moses was more humble than anyone on earth.
Psalm 25:9 – God guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way.
Psalm 37:11 – The meek will inherit the earth and enjoy great peace.
Psalm 149:4 – God crowns the humble with salvation.
Matthew 5:5 – Blessed are the meek, they shall inherit the earth.
Matthew 11:29 – The humble will find rest for their soul.
1 Peter 3:4-5 – A quiet spirit is a great worth in God’s sight.

Submissive faith depends on the privilege and power of prayer.

Will other say you are humble?
How can you be more humble in your life?
How would this change your relationships with others?

God made promises to Abraham and his descendants.  He had many sons, but God’s promises were for Isaac alone so it was important for Isaac to have a son.  Isaac prayed to God because Rebekah was barren.  They waited 20 years before their sons were born.  Then Rebekah became pregnant with 2 sons and they jostled within her so she asked the Lord why was this happening.  The Lord said, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.” Gen. 25:23.   Why did God reveal this prophecy to her?  Perhaps so they could parent in God’s plan.  The two were born:  first Esau, then Jacob.  Esau was hairy and became a skillful hunter.  Jacob was quiet and stayed among the tents.  Isaac favored Esau because he liked to eat wild game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Prayer reveals our heart.  It shows our fear, our desires, our priorities, our hurts, etc.  Isaac’s prayer is submissive faith in action to God’s authority and dependence in His power.

What do you pray about?  Prayer is a privilege.  It cost Jesus His life so we can approach prayer with confidence.
What is missing in your life that is God’s will? -  self-control, freedom from bondage, a life of debt, serving the body of Christ, tithing, forgiving, submitting to authority?
How will you pray for what is missing?  Ask God to grow you.
What promise could you pray on behalf of someone else?
What is going on in your life that you don’t understand?  When you don’t understand, go to God.  He will talk with you.

Jacob wanted God’s special blessing and took advantage of Esau when he was weak.  One day Jacob was cooking stew and Esau came in very hungry and wanted to eat the stew.  Jacob made him swear that he would sell his birthright before he would give him any to eat.  Esau did not care about his birthright so he agreed and then he despised his birthright.

Genesis 26:1-35 – Submissive Faith Perseveres

In verse 5 God commends Abraham although he was not perfect.  God does not command His people to be perfect.

There was a famine in the land and Isaac went south through Abimelech’s land.  The Lord warns Isaac not to go down to Egypt as his father had done, but to stay in the land where He tells him.  Isaac’s father made a difference in his life so Isaac stayed when God said to stay.  God said He would bless him and confirmed the oath He swore to Abraham.  He would make his descendants as numerous as the stars and give them all these lands and through his offspring all the nations of the earth would be blessed. – Gen. 26:1-6.  Isaac obeyed God and stayed in the Promised Land.

We all face a famine.  Maybe it’s a loss of a job, disobedient child, problems in the family. God is with us in it. 

How is God helping you respond to your famine?  What does God’s presence mean to you?  God’s presence brings immeasurable blessing, but does not stop the famine.  The enemy is trying to steal, kill and destroy.  God blesses undeserving people.  Sometime we hang in there and sometime we don’t, but God’s presence is always with us.

Isaac was blessed with a beautiful wife like his father, Abraham.  Isaac lied just as Abraham had in chapter 20 by telling the king that his wife was his sister, because she was beautiful and he was afraid they would kill him because of her.  Then the king found out that she was his wife and gave orders to all the people that no one was to molest Rebekah. – Gen. 26:7-11.  Had Isaac’s father warned him, maybe he would not have lied.  Isaac couldn’t learn from his father, if his father did not share this with him.  Lying is a sin and can never truly help us.  God is gracious and slow to anger, but He doesn’t overlook sin.  There will be consequences to our sin.  Your sin will find you out just as Isaac’s did.  Abraham should have taught Isaac better.  He should have told him that he himself learned a hard lesson when he lied.  He should have explained that he made a terrible mistake long ago so Isaac could learn from his father’s mistakes and not make the same one.

What bad habit have you learned?
How well are you sharing with your kids your mistakes?
In humility are you willing to share your regrets?

Isaac was not perfect.  He took matters into his own hands when he was afraid of Abimelech.  How have you taken things into your own hands and what were the results?  What mistakes have you made that you would like to take back?  God was      still there for Isaac.  God is faithful to His promises. 

Isaac stayed in the land and the Lord blessed him.  He planted crops and became very wealthy.  He was so rich that the Philistines envied him so they stopped up all his wells.  The king then asked him to move away.  Isaac moved to the Valley of Gerar.  There he dug new wells, but the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with him saying the water was theirs.  Isaac moved on and dug another well and no one quarreled over it.  The Lord appeared to Isaac and told him not to be afraid and that he would be blessed.  Isaac then built an altar and called on the name of the Lord.  Abimelech realized that the Lord was with Isaac and they swore an agreement together.  Gen. 26:12-34.  Does this sound familiar?  The same thing happened in chapter 21 with Abimelech and Abraham.

Isaac lied, but God still blessed him.  Why?  That is a glimpse of the mercy, grace, forgiveness, and the faithfulness of God.  He blessed him although he didn’t deserve it just as He blesses us when we don’t deserve it.

Submissive faith that perseveres in adversity reveals the faith fullness of God.

Genesis 27:1 – 28:9 – Submissive Faith Surrenders

Isaac was getting old and his eyes were weak.  He turned his eyes from God.  He focused on what he wanted in the flesh.  He planned a secret meeting with Esau telling him to go and kill some game for him and that he give him a blessing before he dies.  Remember Esau had already sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of soup.  The birthright belonged to Jacob with or without the deceit.  Esau had sold it to him and sealed the deal with an oath.  Esau was about to receive a blessing to which he had no right and Isaac knew that the Lord had said that “the older would serve the younger”.  Rebekah heard this and planned a scheme of her own.  She wanted her younger son Jacob not to miss out on Isaac’s blessing.  So they planned to pretend that Jacob was Esau and Isaac would bless Jacob instead.  Rebekah is the instigator and Jacob is the accomplice.  Jacob tells one lie after another.  The last one is the worst.  “The Lord your God gave me success.” Gen. 27:20. 

Rebekah’s motivation for scheming was her unbelief.  She panicked.  She didn’t pray, but took matters into her own hands.  God will not bless you for wrong doing to achieve good.  God’s blessing of Jacob was because He chose him to inherit the promises not by Rebekah and Jacob’s deception.  The whole family suffered because of these deceptions.  Rebekah suffered because she would not see her son again and Jacob had to leave home in fear of his life.

Have you ever panicked like Rebekah and took matters into your own hands instead of waiting on God?

Isaac blessed Jacob thinking it was Esau.  He wasn’t thinking about God’s promise being fulfilled.  He ignored God’s Word.  Esau came in from hunting and Isaac realized who he had really blessed.  Verse 33 says “Isaac trembled violently”.  Isaac knew nothing could stop the plan of God.  He had made a mess with his own desires.  When Esau found out about the deception and asked if Isaac had a blessing for him, too. – Gen. 27:1-38.  “His father Isaac answered him, ‘Your dwelling will be away from the earth’s richness, away from the dew of heaven above.  You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother.  But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck.’”Gen. 27:39-40.

Have you ever been deceived by someone? 
How did you handle it?
Have you forgiven those who have wronged you?  Life is not always fair, but God is.  Trust in His sovereignty.

Isaac was a man who loved God.  He blessed his two sons even though the blessings were not what he had planned.  They were as God had planned.  Isaac was grieved by the deception, but accepted what happened.  Can you do the same?  God is in control.  We can trust in that.

Esau then held a grudge against Jacob, because he received the blessing of the first born so he wanted to kill Jacob.  Rebekah told Jacob and he ran to his uncle, Laban in Haran to stay with him for a while. 

Isaac surrendered to God.  He reconfirms his blessing to Jacob before sending him away to Padanaram.  Rebekah was worried that Jacob would marry a Canaanite woman while he was there, so Isaac told him not to marry a Canaanite.  Instead he was to go to his own people for a wife.  When Esau heard that the daughters of Canaan did not please Isaac, he went to Ishmael and married from among his family in addition to the wives he already had.  Remember Ishmael’s first wife was an Egyptian.  Esau did this for just for spite. – Gen. 28:1-9.

Submissive faith humbly surrenders to the wisdom and will of God.

How do you describe your faith?
Are you suborn or submissive?

Hebrews 11 commends Abraham and Isaac for how they submitted to God.  They are not remembered for their mistakes.  God remembers our mistakes no more.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Genesis 24-25:1-18

Genesis 24:1-27 – The Witness of the Servant

God has blessed Abraham and now he is old.  He needed to fulfill his responsibility to God for his family.  God had given him the land He had promised for him and his offspring so he needed to find a wife for his son, Isaac.  He wanted to get a wife who believed and worshiped God.  Choosing a wife is always a big deal.  God’s best plan for believers is to be united in marriage with another believer.  The Bible says to not be unequally yoked together.  “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.  For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?” 2 Cor. 6:14.  If you are unequally yoked together, marriage will be much more difficult.  But if you are already married to an unbelieving spouse, you are to stay with them.  You can demonstrate Christ to them in your marriage.

Abraham thought it best to get one from his own country and people and not from the Canaanites, since they did not worship the one true living God.  So he sent his servant back to his country to find a wife.  Abraham had the servant swear by the Lord to get a wife from his own family.  He wanted to make sure the servant did not take Isaac back to his country with him.  Probably because Abraham thought he might stay and that was not God’s plan.  He needed him to stay in the land God gave to him.  Gen. 24: 1-10.

Do you fulfill your responsibilities to your family?
What do you want to leave behind you as a legacy for your family?
What responsibilities do Christian parents have to their children?
How are they difference from those of non-Christians?

We as Christian parents need to bring up godly children: teaching, training and disciplining our children.  “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Prov. 22:6.  “Discipline your son, for in that there is hope”. Prov. 19:18a.  “Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.”Prov. 29:17.  “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”Eph. 6:4.  “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” Col. 3:21.  We should also pray for our children’s spouses to come.  Ask God to send just the right person for your child.  Pray that they are prepared to be a spouse to your child and pray that your child is prepared to be a good spouse to them.  Pray that they be godly and love the Lord.  Ask to send them someone who is patient, kind, loving, compassionate, humble, and lives a life pleasing to God. 

The servant took 10 of his master’s 10 camels and left to find Isaac a wife.  He asked God to make his journey a success.  He had a tiring stressful trip and traveled 600 mile.  He arrived in Nahor and stayed by the well outside the town.  “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham.  See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water.  May it be that when I say to a girl, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink, and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water our camels too’ – let her be the one you have chosen for our servant Isaac.  By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.” Gen. 24:12-14.   He prayed specifically for what he wanted.  This teaches us we need to pray specifically for what we want.  God answered his prayer before he finished praying.  Wow!  I wish God would do that for me.  Rebekah came to the well and said and did exactly what the servant had asked God she would say and do to show him that she was the right one.  By her offering to give him water and to water his camels showed him her character. She was unselfish, kind, compassionate and had a servant’s heart.  

What is prayer?  It’s talking to God.  You don’t have to have fancy words or be eloquent.  You love talking to your children and we are God’s children.  He wants us to talk with Him.  He loves talking with us.  We need to pray specifically.  He cares about the details.  Take time for Him.  He is always available.

The servant asked who she was and if he could spend the night in her father’s house.  She answered that she was the daughter of Bethuel, son that Milcah bore to Nahor and there was plenty of room in his house for him to spend the night.  The servant then bowed down and worshiped the Lord for God had led him to the house of his master’s relatives. 

How do you know if something is God’s will?  There are three things to look for to know God’s will:  1. There is an outward sign after prayer; 2. It is in His principles and His Word; 3. You have inward deep peace about the decision you’ve made.  You can have fear about making the decision, but still have peace.  When facing a decision, pray about it.

Will you act in confidence when you make that decision?

God reveals His will for our lives when we seek Him by faith.

Genesis 24:28-67 – The Willingness of the Bride

The servant told her family the whole story of his journey and why he had been sent by Abraham.  Rebekah’s family realized that God wanted her to marry Isaac.  Her brother, Laban acknowledged the one true God and agreed that Rebekah would go with him to be Isaac’s wife.  They didn’t abandon her, but knew it was Gods’ will.  Rebekah also agreed.  Her decision involved risk, but she submitted to God's will.  The servant gave Rebekah gold and silver jewelry and clothing.  He also gave costly gifts to her brother and to her mother. 

The servant brought Rebekah to Isaac and told him what he had done.  Isaac could have rebelled, but demonstrated his faith by receiving and submitting to God's will.  Isaac and Rebekah’s eyes met.  They were married and they fell in love.  What a beautiful love story.  Today we marry the one we love.  In bible times, they loved the one they married.

God’s calling and direction can be trusted with faith over fear.

This story parallels with God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and us.  Abraham represents God.  Isaac represents Jesus.  The servant represents the Holy Spirit.  Rebekah represents us.  The servant was sent by Abraham to find Isaac a bride.  God sends the Holy Spirit out to find a bride for Jesus.  We are the bride of Jesus.  The church is the bride of Jesus.  What lessons we learn!  I have heard and read this story many times and never saw the parallels until now.  We learn something new each time we read God’s Word.  Praise God for His Word!

Genesis 25:1-18 – The Will of Abraham

Abraham’s Obituary -   He lived to be 175 years old.  He walked with God for 100 years.  He was a friend of Gods.  His life wasn’t easy.  He walked by faith.  He was real and made mistakes, but God used him.  He gave all his possession to Isaac.  He left something for each of us:  An example to live by faith; An example of living and walking by faith; A savior – Matt. 1:1.  Ishmael and Isaac together buried him with his wife Sarah.  Ishmael lived to be 137 years old and Isaac lived to be 140 years old.

Our trust in Christ today impacts our faith for the future generation.

How will you impact others?
Are you living by faith or fear?
We are preparing our last will and testament.  Are you living by example that you would like others to follow?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Genesis 22 -23

Genesis 22:1-10 – God Tests Faith

Some time later (about 10 years) when Isaac was a young adult God gave Abraham the ultimate test.  “Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah.  Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.’” Gen. 22:2.  His only son?  What about Ishmael?  He was his son, too.  Ishmael was the symbol of the old nature and Isaac was the new nature.  Ishmael needed to be removed just as our old nature needs to be removed as we put on our new nature in Jesus Christ.   How could a God of love command Abraham to sacrifice his only son?  God Himself sacrificed His only son, Jesus.  Mt. Moriah was also the place where Jesus was crucified.  God was testing Abraham’s obedience.  With this test it would remind Abraham of his true faith.  We are tested by God many times in our own lives.  Temptation is intended to make us fail and is from God’s enemy.  Tests are designed for success and God wants us to believe in Him.  Tests are designed just for each one of us as individuals. 

Abraham had many tests.  He was asked to leave his country; he was put in the middle of a famine; he gained material wealth; there was conflict in his household; he had to send Ishmael away, but the test was the hardest of all.  Abraham made himself available to hear God’s call. 

How are you available? 
Can He get your attention?   
How will you respond, if He calls you?
Has God asked you to do something that you think is unreasonable?

Faith sacrificially obeys God’s Word without explanation.

Abraham was focused on what he knew: that God could be trusted and he would be a great nation.  So Abraham obeyed and “rose up early in the morning”.  We would have probably taken more time to pray and fast about this, but Abraham did not.  He simply obeyed.  He even “split wood for the burnt offering” himself even though he had servants to do that for him.  Maybe he wanted to keep his mind busy and not think about what is ahead.  Then it took 3 days to get to the place God had told him.  This was more time to think about what he had to do.  It was an emotionally demanding journey.  I think this was all part of the Abraham’s test.  He told his servants to stay behind with his donkey.  He probably knew they would try to stop him.  Abraham knew God had a plan and he would not have to sacrifice Isaac, because he said to the servants, “We will worship and then we will come back to you.” Gen. 22:5b.  He probably thought even if Isaac died, God would bring him back to life.

Abraham then had Isaac carry the wood for the burnt offering, just like Jesus carried the cross to His crucifixion.  Isaac asked, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”Gen 22:7  Abraham replied, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son”Gen 22:8.  This again showed Abraham’s faith in God.  Both Isaac and Jesus were silent as they were led to slaughter.

God Calls believers to put Him sacrificially first. 

God’s Word says He is to be first.   “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30.  Is He asking you to use part of that tax return or your savings for His purposes?

So far Abraham has passed the test.  Now he climbs Mount Moriah, builds an altar, arranges the wood, binds his son on the altar, and takes the knife to slay him.  Isaac showed no resistance and could have run away, but he obeyed and had total faith in Abraham just as Abraham did in God.  Isaac was taught about God and His faithfulness.  He also may have heard Abraham tell the servants that they would come back to them.

We as Christians want to trust and obey God, but what about when it comes to important things in our lives like our possessions, our loved ones, our plans and dreams? 
Are you willing to let go when He asked you to? 
Are you willing to sacrifice and be obedient in all area of your lives?

Genesis 22:11-19 – God Provides Sacrifice

God Himself as the angel of the Lord called our Abraham’s name.  “Do not lay a hand on the boy.  Do not do anything to him.  Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Gen 22:12.  What moment that must have been.   God knew He was first in Abraham’s heart.  Now Abraham knew God had supreme love for him.  God provided a sacrifice for Abraham just as He always provides for us.  God did not want human sacrifice as the many pagan religions do.  Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in a thicket.  He took the ram and sacrificed it instead of his son. – Gen. 22:13.  Maybe this ram was there all the time and Abraham saw it as he approached to altar, but he didn’t try to catch it.  This may have been a temptation of Satan, but Abraham didn’t fall for it.

God knew ahead of time what Abraham would do and He knows ahead of time what we will do, but He wants us to act out our faith.  Our faith is proven by our deeds.  We don’t have to prove our faith to God, but sometime we need to prove it to ourselves.  He knows our hearts and wants us to pray even though He knows ahead of time what we are going to say.  He wants us to praise Him even though He knows ahead of time how we feel about Him.

Will you stop holding tight to things and hold them more loosely?
Will you trust God more?
How is God testing you?
How do you act out your faith?

God understands just what we are going through.  He Himself went through every trial and temptation we have and even those we haven’t gone through.  He did this through His Son Jesus.  God uses tests to test our obedience and commitment to Him. 

God reaffirms His promise to Abraham and added an additional promise. “they will take possession of the cities of their enemies” Gen. 22:17b.  and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” Gen. 22:18.  Not just Israel will be blessed, but it refers to Jesus as the blessing for all nations.

God provides what He requires.

Isaac was fully aware of his pardon when he heard God speak.  We are sinners and have been pardoned.  How is He that living atonement for you?  Isaac was never the same and neither are we.  How will you show your thankfulness? 

Genesis 22:20 – 23:1-20 – God Gives Hope

Sarah was 127 years old when she died.  She is the only woman whose age and death is recorded in scripture.  She died in Hebron which is about 40 miles from Beersheba.  Loss is worthy of tears.  Abraham missed his wife.  Even in his grief we see his testimony in verse 3.  Abraham trusted God’s promise by wanting to buy land for the burial and asked Ephron the Hittite to sell some to him.  Ephron wanted to give it to him, but Abraham refused the gift and offered to purchase it instead.  So he sells the land with a cave to him for 400 shekels.  Abraham buries Sarah in the cave there.  The field and the cave in it were deeded to Abraham.  This land would belong to his descendants as God promised.

Faith demonstrates hope for tomorrow in spite of today’s pain.

Abraham chose to live in the promises of God in the middle of his pain.  Our hope is beyond the grave.  Abraham chose to live in hope.  God want to use every ounce of your pain.  All Abraham’s tests prepared him for this moment of grief.  He had unwavering hope.  His hardest days gave him strength.  He did not quit.  How will you invest in the promises of God when you hurt?  Abraham’s hard days has impacted us.  How do you impact others?