To Whom are You Devoted?

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4 

            Selfish Ambition, where does that get people?  Well, it does provide temporary satisfaction but at what cost.  Family, friends, coworkers, mentors, all can be burned by the neglect and disrespect that ambitious and vainly conceited people cause.  Some do not realize it until it is too late.  Some never realize it.  When a person cares more for the self and not for others, that person will end up living a very lonely life even when surrounded by others. 

What is selfish ambition? It is the act of being devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others. characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself: selfish motives. When a person devotes everything to the self, God and family take second place in that individuals life. Bridges are burned that could have been useful later in life. Self-devotion leads to loneliness and final darkness without God.  

We need to be aware of this as we go through life. Jesus does tell us to make sure we are healthy and stable physically and spiritually, however, not at the cost of the well-being of others.  Taking care of the needs of others can mean many different things.  For heads of corporations that means not to hoard but share the wealth by ensuring people are taken care of through the best benefits in all ways: health, finances both now and retirement, a non-hostile work environment, etc. 

For the individual, a person should take time starting God and with the family.  Children are the future and repeat what they see, both words and actions.  The spouses’ physical and emotional well-being are important to a good relationship.  Be a helping hand to others but not at the expense of placing yourself in debt or danger (unless absolutely necessary).  Do not ask for reward nor do something and expect immediate compensation.  God will bless for the good you have done. 

The most important thing about all this is being humble in all actions and words.  Take credit for nothing but give God the Glory.   

Vain conceit means “excessive pride” or “self-esteem that has no foundation in reality”. It is an elevated and incorrect sense of self. Therefore, doing nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit means not letting our actions be motivated by selfishness, pride, or one-upmanship.

All this sounds like a very lonely way of life but some people thrive in this and the family reaps the benefits of material wealth but are truly spirit deficient. The dangers to the family are worse than the damage the individual causes for him/her self because this way of life is repeated until someone finally wakes up and sees everything that has been missed out on.

When God is in the picture, the self is put away and all things are done for God’s Glory. Remember, Jesus asks us to look at the eternal and not worry about today. This is temporary, life with or without God is eternal. The choice is yours.

Blessings,

Rob, Servant of God

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What is Your Legacy?

When we leave this earthly realm, what will we be remembered for? Will it be the type of car that we drove, the house we lived in, the money in the bank? Goodness, I hope not. The material things don’t matter. Our legacies are not about them. How you treat people and your general attitude are key components in our lives. Your faith in God and how you follow Jesus’ examples should be expressed in everything that you do, every day.

I was honored to be in the choir for a memorial service yesterday. When I heard that the woman was ill, I did not realize who she was. I am fairly new to the church and I am not extremely involved at this time. When I arrived at the church yesterday and saw the bulletin, I recognized her and everything clicked. Yes, I knew this woman. She was extremely nice and very personable. She always had a smile on her face and was quite friendly. However, I did not know her well.

At the “Celebration/Memorial” Service, the Pastors (yes, more than one) all had wonderful things to say about her. One of the pastors asked for the attendees to raise their hand if she had ever sent them a card, made them something or given them something. Almost every hand in the sanctuary went up. This woman was a nurse, nursing instructor, wife, mother, friend, and more to many. Even in her sickness, she wanted others to be uplifted. She was acknowledged as an encourager.

Last week in choir rehearsal, one of the men stated that when he saw her, she wished him a Happy Anniversary (it was 2 days away). Our lead Pastor said during his message that she wanted to know how his family and others were doing. She knew that her time in this world was ending, but she cared more about other people than herself.

She did not want her service to be about her. She wished that the focus would be on her Savior, Jesus. Well, she mostly got her wish. Every word that was said about her pointed to Jesus. The music was from a list that she had put together, but was about Jesus. The message was about that gifts that Jesus had given her. The invitation at the end (not common for a funeral service) was for encouraging others to know the same God that she knew.

There will be tears, there will be grieving, but the legacy of this wonderful woman of God will live on. Her legacy of encouragement, love and grace. This world may have lost a bright light, but Heaven has gained an angel.I know in my heart that God welcomed her with open arms and said “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

I know in my heart that God welcomed her with open arms and said “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Where Is Your Heart Directed (when looking for life-long love)

God The Right Heart Direction

 

When looking for the right someone, where do you look first? Is it their eyes, figure, bank or soul?

God desires the right man or woman for you, if it’s His plan, so looking to Him is the first step. When you don’t seek God for your heart direction, is He really involved?

The godly man is one who follows the biblical direction of leadership described in I Timothy 3:1-7 “Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money’s. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he care for God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgement as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.”

Proverbs 31:10-31 describes a wife of noble character. “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence I her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings, she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”

When God prepares you for your life-mate, don’t be afraid to look for the qualities mentioned in the verses above. Although most women don’t make linens or plant vineyards nowadays, the concept is that a noble woman is respectful and independent. She does not bring disrespect to the household. Likewise, the husband is honorable and respected. God will provide a mate that brings out and expands the qualities of both people.

Many people use Ruth and Boaz as examples for a relationship. However, Mary and Joseph seem to epitomize a truer heart foundation. When Mary was approached by the Angel, she wondered how she could bear a child as she had never lain with a man. She also knew that if she was pregnant without being married, her life would be forfeit. The traditions of the land did not allow for premarital pregnancy, except if the child’s father was the woman’s betrothed. For Mary, since she was a virgin, being pregnant would have allowed Joseph to “divorce” her and she could have been stoned. Although I’m confident that Mary was scared, she trusted in God that Joseph would not take that route. Joseph may have thought of that option, but he also trusted in God. Mary’s heart was full of God’s love and she, in my mind, held deep affection and respect for Joseph. Although Joseph had every right to end the betrothal and have Mary punished, I feel that he cared deeply for Mary. This affection made a big difference. Both Mary and Joseph followed their heart direction to fulfill the prophesies of the Old Testament.

When speaking with my husband the other day, we discussed this in length. Joseph had been married before and had children. Being married to Mary would have given him a mother for them and mate for himself. We agreed that Joseph’s heart direction was focused on God. Having that focus allowed his heart to have care and compassion for Mary. This heart direction gave us the ability to follow our hearts to our Savior.

Are you still seeking the right mate and wondering when the right man or woman will come along? Don’t despair, God is preparing both of you. Place your heart direction towards Him and He will not fail. There will be heartaches and trials and hurt, but God will provide the one for you.

A little background on me. My husband and I met in 1991. We got engaged early 1992. Broke up in 1993, and married in 1997. We have been married now for over 20 years. When we broke up, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Over the years, I discovered that neither of us were ready for the relationship that God wanted us to have. Both of us had to grow in faith and be willing to submit to Christ. We’ve had our struggles and both of us have returned to our old ways at some point. However, it is only by God’s grace and divine love that we are still together. We have had to re-focus our heart directions back on God to be able to focus on the plans that He has for us.

 

God’s Love Comes First

God’s power has given us everything we need for life and godliness, through our knowing the One who called us to his own glory and goodness. By these he has given us valuable and superlatively great promises, so that through them you might come to share in God’s nature and escape the corruption which evil desires have brought into the world. For this very reason, try your hardest to furnish your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with perseverance, perseverance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if you have these qualities in abundance, they keep you from being barren and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah. Indeed, whoever lacks them is blind, so shortsighted that he forgets that his past sins have been washed away. Therefore, brothers, try even harder to make your being called and chosen a certainty. For if you keep doing this, you will never stumble. Thus you will be generously supplied with everything you need to enter the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Deliverer, Yeshua the Messiah. – 2 Peter 3-11
 Because God created us, He loves us. It is unconditional love from the Father but since we became separated from God, we have to go through a process in order to love Him. Think of the time you met the person you fell in in love with. The feeling of love was not immediate but there was an attraction, a feeling of needing to get to know the other person better. Once you got to know each other then friendship, knowledge, trust, deeper affections, belonging, and finally love grew.

 You see we need these things to build a relationship because we have a block called sin which stands in the way of true knowledge of God’s Love. This block causes us to sometimes mistake one feeling for another or the difference between truth and sin. In truth, we are filled with God’s love and our original nature has deep love for Him but because of our human nature we have issues of acceptance. 

All we need is God’s love but He desires us to love Him back. Just because He loves us does not mean we are good to go once we accept Him, we must abide in Him. Remember Jesus told the adult rest to go and sin no more, that was not just for her own hearing or a quick lesson in God’s compassionate forgiveness. He flat out says, once you accept me, show the same love for Me that I have for you. 

 In other words, be faithful to Him as He has faith in us. This faith grows in the desire to please Him by doing good and worshipping only Him. Having the self control to abide in His Word forsaking the desire to fall because of temptation, striving to be better and gaining the knowledge, trust, and desire to finally understand and feel the embrace of God’s love. 

Remember that commercial where people stood behind a big x-ray screen which showed different levels of love then also added in the sin that God abhors? They advertised the idea that love is love but it is not. One must be able to recognize the difference. This world is not meant for the sinfulness and things that go against God’s natural order of things. 

So yes, the idea of all we need is love is correct but not the way that most of the world now sees it. For most have made evil seem good and good is now evil. Human kindness and love for our fellow man comes with much baggage that all must work through. Showing God’s love is of upmost importance and should outweigh the human misinterpretation that has occurred. 

Remain faithful and remember that God’s love is kind of like roses and chocolate. We must recognize and dull the thorns while sweetening  the bitterness with His Word so that we can experience and share Him with the world as He commands us to do.   

 

Forgiveness

Forgiveness—what is it? And why is it so important?
The Oxford Dictionary defines forgiveness “as the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven”. To forgive is to “stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake”.
Forgiving does not mean to allow the offender or wrong-doer to continue to do wrong. It is an act of removing that person’s hold on you.
As Christians, we are forgiven. However, that forgiveness comes with a command. As Jesus said during his Sermon on the Mount:
“Our Father, which art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:9-15 KJV
I don’t know about you, but I have sinned and will continue to sin. I am human, not perfect. If I go a day without asking for God to forgive me for something, that is a day that I am enslaved to my sin. It is also a day that I have noticed that repeats itself in my mind until I request and receive the forgiveness. God WILL forgive a repentant heart.
Since I know that God will forgive me, how hard is it to forgive others? Extremely. There are people in my past and present that I have had to forgive in stages. Long, repetitious stages. I know that as time passes, the hurt and anger increases. But, I can use the promises of God to make those feelings subside.
“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost”. Romans 15:13 KJV
“The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace”. Psalm 29:11 KJV
Now, I could hold a grudge against someone very easily. However, I strongly feel that if I am giving someone that much of my mind and heart, they are ultimately in CONTROL of me. I do not like anyone to have control over me (I’m stubborn that way). God gave me choices, I will use them. I will NOT have anyone else making those choices for me.
That being said, how are those I haven’t forgiven making my choices for me? Until I accept the peace that God provides, that person controls my thoughts and continually brings them back to the wrong. Everything I think about has that person and whatever situation in the forefront. Each decision I make will be second-guessed and bitterness usually prevails.
Bitterness pairs with unforgiveness. When the heart does not have the peace that only God can provide, it harbors ill-will and malice. We often wish for bad things to happen to the one that we haven’t forgiven. This is also not pleasing to God.
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you”. Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV
There are numerous verses in the Bible that either tell us that we are forgiven (if we repent) or command us to forgive others.
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” Matthew 18:21-22 NIV
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25 NIV
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven” Luke 6:37 NIV
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sings psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”. Colossians 3:12-17 NIV
Brothers and sisters, is there someone that you haven’t forgiven? Are you letting that bitterness control you? Let it go. The forgiveness that you give isn’t for their sake, it’s for yours. Let God’s peace flow through you and feel the release.
–Father, if there is bitterness and unforgiveness in my heart, I ask that you give me the strength to forgive. Lord, guard my thoughts and keep them from resentment and ill-will. Allow me to forgive others as you have forgiven me. Thank You for Your love and grace. In Your Holy and Precious Name, Amen–
May the power and might of our one and only God guide you and protect your heart.
Michelle

The Wedding Feast

Jesus first Miracle, according to the standard Scriptures was at the wedding in Cana in Galilee. He turned Water into Wine. Now this was a good thing because the water was actually not safe to drink but it was even better because it was the best liquids the participants ever tasted.

Today I officiated my first wedding and I tell you what, I was nervous as all get out until I gave it all to God. Yeah I flubbed a couple of words here and there but God saw us through it. I was not at the actual rehearsal so I went in cold but the best way to do something for God is really a trial by the proverbial fire. After some technical things with the sound and the photographer and making sure the bride, groom and I were all on the same sheet of music everything went extremely well. Another thing I was not prepared for was that the wedding was outside. So I bet now you are wondering, is he tooting his own horn? No, I am not. I could not have done it without God and remembering the Miracle at Cana. There was a lot of nervousness around but it was easily removed when I prayed and reminded everyone that marriage between a man and a woman is the only type of marriage ordained by God while we are human. Everything went easy because God was present. There was no outstanding miracle and there was some disappointments but those too were rendered as unnecessary thanks to God being by my side and in the Words of Love read from 1 Corinthians 13 by a young lady who spoke in front of public for the first time.

This was all about firsts today, what has God done in your life that were firsts? If we do not listen to God through the Words read from Scripture, spoken in church, or even seen on this site, how will our firsts be? Mistakes are made without God being at the forefront of everything we do. He expresses this numerous times in Scripture but you know the one thing that stands out the most? We are His and His alone.

Today was a blessed day because I witnessed two very good friends become man and wife who trusted me to preside over their wedding. They wrote their own vows and in the grooms usual fashion just took the normal vows and added a very personal touch. The bride did the same but it was even more personal. Both were from the heart and beautiful. The barriers of fear and doubt were broken as they spoke those words to each other. Hearts were filled in the entire party present and Joy had spread as they shared their joy.

I could ramble on this all day but I’ll be nice. Weddings are a wonderful time of great joy so it really was only fitting that Jesus first recorded miracle (outside of the extra biblical texts of His childhood) was at a wedding. Jesus changed things that day, yeah there were other miracles by other prophets but Jesus miracle was done in private really without many but His mother knowing. This miracle would be the one that stands out for centuries and even today. He took care of the drink at the wedding feast so no one would thirst. I wonder if He may have healed some people through the drink that day and those were not recorded but one thing for sure, the eyes of the Apostles were opened to begin to see Jesus for what He would be to them.  

Heavenly Father, Thank You for opening my eyes today and reminding me of the truth of Your heart within us. Bringing together two opposite people whom you created to become one taught me many things but mostly that true love really knows no bounds between a man and a woman. There is no truer love than yours and when it is felt throughout these celebrations, fear, anxiety and  hopelessness disappear. Lord, I wish the world could be as it was at creation with Your love all around us. Be with us Father through these dark and worrisome times Come Lord Jesus and take up your throne. Amen

Stop and Thank the Creator

Amazing Sunset

So many times people will look and think, “oh this is beautiful”, or “isn’t that a wonderful painting?”, when they really should be thinking and thanking the Creator of all things. This was one subject that hit me last night when we were sitting in worship with a group of young Christian College students Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville last night. I was there playing the Cajon (was coerced into playing) while a student played guitar and we just let the Spirit take us in the music. We sang many songs of worshipfulness and gave testimony to many things. My faith in the up and coming Christian adult generation was restored.

We are God’s greatest creation, even the angels bow before us. 

One young man in his early twenties who had a real rough life had given everything to God and spoke up about thanking the Creator as we look upon things that He created and the things that one He created then created as well (if that makes sense). In other words, we look at the beauty of nature and see what God has done in this world and thank Him but when we see a beautiful painting and glorify the artist, should we not also thank God for creating the artist and giving him or her that gift of creation.

Today we went to see some rebuilt old cars both national and international and all I could think of was thanking God for giving these creators the technical knowhow and the designs for these modes of transportation. Though some looked weird and futuristic, is was still amazing that some of these ideas even moved. Even the computer that I am writing this on this very second, God had given the gift to someone to be able to put this together so that I can write these words.

1 Thessalonians 5:18                                                                                                                     Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

It is amazing what we take for granted this day and age and only grip at God for natural disasters and when someone dies. Why does it seems we are always in the blaming zone when we should be thanking God for the water, the wind, the disruption making way for the new. We have sorrow for the loss of life and material things, yes but that doesn’t mean we should be angry with our loving Father.

The next time someone tells you to stop and smell the roses, say to the individual I will stop, thank God for creating the roses and then smell and see the beauty in God’s Creation.

A Pastor’s Life

There are Pastors, Reverends, Chaplains, and other senior leaders below Bishops and such that strive to live a Christ like life but have difficulty understanding the required difference between them and those they serve. Men (and in some cases women) are beaten up every day on their actions, reactions, and lack there of when it comes to the problem of spiritual issues versus social. We are in a time where the spiritual has taken a back seat to the social construct because too many have fallen away from God and it is making it more difficult every day for those of us in the ministry to do what it is we have to do. This has caused many great pastors to have to take sides especially within their congregation where no side need be taken. This has caused strife within their own family as they struggle with what the kids are being subjected to on an hourly basis.

It is not part of a pastor’s life to desire everyone to like them, to seek them out personally. It is the pastors duty to care for the spiritual fitness which may entail some social materialisms to untangle but not so bad that they get caught up in it. Pastors who preach the Prosperity Gospel as well as the Jesus Only are hurting more than helping. People need to know the kindness of our Savior but they also need to be shown and recognize that going to church one day a week and going about their earthly lives for the other 6 days does not a good Christian make.

Pastors sometimes struggle with what they should preach because there are so many good and meaty morality lessons but the kinder gentler ones are afraid of offending and losing members so they take the easy way out by saying don’t worry because that was then and this is now. They should be ashamed because the Bible’s Words are just as relevant today as they were when they were written. Sugar coating gets people outside the gate looking in not inside enjoying the feast.

We struggle with anger and favoritism. Pastors who give way to unnecessary anger when things do not go their way are only looking for trouble. Remember, all people are to be slow to anger. Pastors who choose favorites do not give the member who has been waiting for the chance to share his/her spiritual gift. This causes the person to become stagnant and also hurt the favored one causing a burn out.

I ask all members of the Body of Christ to please keep an eye on the one who is standing before you as the presenter of God’s Word. Just as you are in need of spiritual fulfillment, the pastor is too otherwise he/she will burn out and become less of a spirit and more of a beast.

Pray for the Pastors and all other clergy that they continue to strive for giving the truth of the Word, not afraid to offend or convict. That they follow the Gospel and not add things of humanity. That they are cared for in the spiritual ways as well as they physical (basic) needs so they can share the Word.

Love to all,

Pastor Rob

 

Importance of the Second Son P3

Jacob and Esau

AND GOD told Rebekah

“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
The Younger, Jacob, had known that he would always fight with his brother Esau for the affections of his father. Early in their years Jacob saw an opportunity to make himself better than his brother and Esau sold his birthright over a bowl of stew. Later, when Isaac was near death, it was time for the blessing and Esau was hoping to receive at least that. Well, Rebekah heard the conversation where Isaac wanted Esau to hunt and prepare him a meal then he would bless him. Rebekah, remembering God’s promise dressed Jacob in fur and rubbed a scent which smelled of his brother.
Listen to the blessing Jacob stole:
“Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed.
28 May God give you heaven’s dew and earth’s richness—an abundance of grain and new wine.
29 May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you.
Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you.
May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed.”
Gen 27: 27-29

Upon Esau’s return, he prepared the food and came to his father. Isaac realized he was swindled and after much hesitation gave Esau this blessing:
“Your dwelling will be away from the earth’s richness, away from the dew of heaven above. 40 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

Obviously this does not set well. Esau wanted Jacob’s head so Isaac and Rebekah sent Jacob to live with Laban so he would marry a Canaanite woman. Esau, recognizing the distaste for his Hittite wives, went and married a daughter of Ishmael.

I could speak more of Jacob’s redemptive journey but let’s take a look at his importance:
Jacob was a conniving momma’s boy who really did not know God at first. He stayed in the protection of the tents instead of making something of himself. He knew of God only by name and never fully experienced Him as others had done. When he was on the way to Laban he slept and had a conversation with God in which God promised him a great nation to come from him. Jacob asked for God to protect and provide for his journey then he would follow Him all his days.
1. Sometimes a bargain with God will turn into a test of Faith.
Saying that you will follow God giving Him conditions does not always turn out the way people hope. Jacob was consistently tested and his ability to bargain, barter, and act somewhat treacherously to get free of the bonds. Was this a test of his resilience? Probably. God wants people who can accept and face challenges with God as the guide and protector. It took Jacob to have a wrestling match with the Angel of God (BTW this was Jesus) for him to understand all he was going through was because of bargaining with God.
2. Having Patience with God’s Plan is a good thing.
Face it, we all lose patience at one time or another. We need to remember that things happen in God’s timing and not ours. We cannot tell God when things will happen, God tells us.
3. Having God in Our Lives Creates a Loving Atmosphere that Overcomes Hate
For some this may be a hard pill to swallow but truly being in Christ and not just believing leads to a healthy loving relationship with our fellow man. This relationship with God gives us eloquence in speaking peace, encouragement, and correction as needed. This day and age is filled with many discouraged and lost people who could really use God’s Love from His perspective, not a human one. Our human emotions can get in the way of being in Christ when sharing Him, His Love, and His Tough Love. Having God as the center gives us the courage to stand firm in the midst of hungry lions.
4. Forgiveness is a two way street
The embrace of brothers we see in Jacob and Esau was not an easy one but it began the conversation which led to peace. The forgiveness was mutual as it should be today. When you wrong someone not only do we ask for forgiveness but the other party must be willing to forgive. The one forgiving has to search deeply and ensure their forgiveness is genuine. Finding forgiveness in their heart opens many doors. The one asking forgiveness must be genuine as well and be truthfully willing to never wrong the person or people in that way or any way again.

Jacob and Esau would live with certain tensions for the remainder of their days but for then there was peace.

Let us remember to not tempt God or bargain with Him for we may not like the resulting years of pain before the dawn of the morning. Let us also learn patience with God’s timing and accept all things with grace remembering that God is the center. Forgive and be forgiven; Love as God Loves us. Be blessed Brothers and Sisters.

 

Now Jacob had twelve sons and one (known) daughter. Many things occurred with that family but it our journey takes us next to the sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh.

The Importance of Being Second P2

Ishmael and IsaacIshmael and Isaac

Abram had two sons from different women. Ishmael was the son of Sarai’s Egyptian handmaiden Hagar whom she gave to Abram in hopes that he has a physical heir to his properties. Isaac, the son of the promise was born to Sarai when she was very old. Now Ishmael means God Listens while Isaac means Laughter. Sarai thought the Lord was joking when He told her she would bare a son but (sorry) God got the last laugh in this case.
Sarai took it upon herself to let Abram have Hagar and give him a son and she was jealous of Hagar especially when Ishmael was born. Thing is, Ishmael was not the child of the promise and God knew that Sarai would give Hagar to Abram. God still used Ishmael and his descendant
Abram joyfully taught Ishmael all he needed to know and had him circumcised as the first born in God’s covenant with Abram. Sarai became jealous of Hagar which would carry on into the boys. Sarai (now Sarah) bore Isaac and he became the favored child.
The Book of Jasher tells us that when Isaac was five, Ishmael (then 18) attempted to kill Isaac with a bow and arrow. Ishmael was a wild youth who mocked Isaac every chance he had and would not follow Abraham’s direction so Hagar and Ishmael were banished. Abraham asked God for pity on them and He granted them safety. An angel came to Hagar and Ishmael ensuring they were looked after and he would father a great nation. Ishmael had two wives (not at the same time) and twelve sons, the Arab Nation also known as Ishmaelite’s. Later in his life Ishmael and before Abraham died, Ishmael became a penitent man. When he died he was buried in what would be called Mecca.
There are so many issues with timing and age here but should we really worry about semantics over meanings?
When Isaac reached the age to assist his father with the sacrifice, he went with Abraham to the mountain and was the physical object of God’s test of Abraham’s faith. Abraham from there understood that God would provide for him and his many children as long as they were faithful servants. The angel of the Lord told Abraham, ”By Myself have I sworn, says the Lord, that because you have done this thing and you did not withhold your son, your only one, that I will surely bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand that is on the seashore, and your descendants will inherit the cities of their enemies.“
So what is the importance of Isaac besides the second son of the father of many nations? Isaac is the Son of the Promise, honestly that is really the most important thing about him outside of his children. He was a faithful man who would later father twins who would once again separate nations. These two people would suffer contention and strife even today although the brothers found peace in their time.
We learn more about Abraham’s faith from this story than anything else. First we see how Abraham and Sarah could not believe that they would even be able to have children at their age especially since Sarah was well above child bearing years. They learn to listen to God and that He can make all things possible, even what we would consider impossible. Abraham never saw God, only angels that were His messengers and carried out God’s commands. His faith in the unseen made God known personally to Abraham. Ishmael would never have as close of a relationship with God as Isaac did. Maybe that is why there are so many issues.
This story tells us that we can have that personal relationship, in fact that is what God wants. We will later see how much more this point is brought out with Isaac’s son, Jacob.
PRAYER:
Father God, We desire a personal relationship with You. Thank You for giving us Jesus so we can have that relationship. Thank You also for the understanding of faith in the unseen but understood, Father. The lessons from the past are truly alive today because of that relationship You have built with us. Teach us, Oh Lord, so that we may share this relationship with others as we build deeper relationships with You ourselves. Guide us to those who You desire a deep personal relationship so we may tell them our story in order for them to discover theirs. Thank You for the gift of Your Son and His gift of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus Name AMEN