Tuesday, 31 May 2005

Being in the Way

O Lord God of my master Abraham, pray thee, spend me good speed today ... Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute of my master of His mercy and His truth: I, being in the way, the Lord led me.” - Genesis 24v12, 27


What a task Eliezer had laid out before him. What a man Eliezer was. If no son had come along Eliezer would have been adopted as the heir. In his flesh centred days Abraham had even considered this back in Genesis 15. Now he is being called on to go back and find a wife for Abraham's son and heir.


Some have called Eliezer our model servant, and in many ways he does illustrate how we should serve the Lord. As soon as Eliezer arrived in the land he stopped and prayed. It is human tenancy to make prayer something of a “last resort.” Eliezer had it right, the very first thing he did was to pray and seek the Lord's blessing on his mission. His prayer is interesting in itself. He prayed, “Lord, give me 'God speed' this day.” Literally, he asks God to properly bring about the suitable appointment. Then he asked God for very clear direction to show his leadership. He knew from the very start of the task that he would only be a success if he followed God's leadership.


The Lord answered Eliezer's prayer and showed him clearly that Rebekah would be the wife for Isaac. When it all fell into place Eliezer said this, “I, being in the way, the Lord led me.” “Being in the way” has a different connotation today than it did when this translation was done. In essence Eliezer said, “I was already on the right track, and the Lord led me.”


Note a couple of things about being a servant that we can take to heart.


Eliezer was trustworthy, he had all of Abraham's good at his command.

He had a reliance on prayer.

He followed his master's command.

He was in the place that God could use him.


May we be, in this sense, “in the way” today so that the Lord can lead us.

Monday, 30 May 2005

Don't take my son back there!

But Abraham said to him, 'Beware that you do not take my son back there' ... 'only do not take my son back there'...” - Genesis 24v6,8 NKJV


The time has come for Isaac to take a wife. Knowing that God did not want him to marry into the paganism of Canaan, Abraham prepares to send a servant back “home” to find a wife. The servant ask the obvious question, “What if she won't come? Should I take Isaac back there to her?”


Abraham's reply leaves not doubts, “Beware that you do not take my son back there!” and a couple of verse later, “Only do not take my son back there!”


Why such a strong response? Why was he so dogmatic? The answer is in between the two comments. Abraham said that God had taken him out of that land and put him in the new land, promising to give it to him.


In following God there is “no turning back” Part of the song goes, “I have decided to follow Jesus ... no turning back.” Jesus said in Luke 9v62, “...no man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God.” If we want to be disciple we are told to take up our cross and follow Him.


From all of this I think there is a very clear lesson. Following God is a one way decision. There is no going back to the old way of life. When God leads and directs us to a specific service for Him we need to be very careful before quitting before the task is done.


Abraham would not hear of “going back home” to his family for God had directed him otherwise. May we not look back after putting our hand to the plough!

Sunday, 29 May 2005

The Lord Blessed Abraham

And Abraham was old, and well stricken in ages, and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things.” - Genesis 24v1


We have travelled a long road with Abraham. From the time he stepped out by faith to leave family and friends in Ur to move to an unknown country, through Canaan and Egypt. We have seen him tested and tired. We have seen him blessed and honoured. We have his right decisions and his wrong decisions. We have seen that though he was a man of God he was far from perfect. At times he trusted God without fail,at other times he doubted God's ability to work. Sometimes he eve took matters into his own hands and always suffered the consequences.


In that regard, we are not a whole lot different that Abraham, are we? We have our own share of successes and failures. Sometimes we trust God implicitly, sometimes we fail in that regard. We make our share or wrong decisions and we make our share of mistakes. At times we trust our own flesh, wisdom, and abilities more than we trust God. How often do we choose to walk by sight instead of by faith.


There is no excuse for our actions when we act that way – none. Yet, we can take comfort in these words about Abraham, “The Lord blessed Abraham in all things.” How is that possible? How can God do that with a frail, sinful being?


The answer is simple - “And he believed in the LORD; and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” (Genesis 15v6) God's blessing on Abraham was not precipitated by his actions, it was based on the fact that Abraham believed God, and that was accounted to Him as righteousness.


Our actions are important. God expects us to live in a way which honours Him. When we get out of long He lovingly chastens us to keep us on track. Yet, we can trust that fact that God's blessings on our lives are based on the fact that we put our faith in Him.


Abraham's faith grew to the point that he was able to act properly even when God called on him to sacrifice his only and promised son.

God blessed Abraham in all things. God's blessings await us. Should we not live our lives in a way that we reflect His blessings on us?

Saturday, 28 May 2005

Jehovah-jireh

..Abraham said, God will provide Himself an lamb for the burnt offering ... And Abraham called the name of the place Jehovah-jireh...” _ Genesis 22v8, 14


Throughout the Word of God we find many many names referring to God. “Jehovah-jireh is one such name. It means, “The Lord will be seen,” or, “The Lord will provide.” The two meanings fit together will for the Lord is clearly seen in His provision here for His people.

Over and over again in the lives of God's people we have been able to boldy proclaim - “Jehovah-jireh, the Lord is my provider.” He provides life and health and manifold blessings. He provides us with His precious Word. He provides for our material and spiritual needs. Indeed, we can praise God that He is our Jehovah-jireh!


However, let us look just a little deeper here. Isaac was on the altar and Abraham was ready to sacrifice his only son. At the last minute God intervened and provided a sacrifice to take Isaac's place. In this we see the ultimate example of God as our Jehovah-jireh. By all rights each one of us should have been laid on the altar to vainly attempt to pay the penalty for our sins. Yet, because of His love for us, God provided a sacrifice in our place! Here we are introduced the a concept the theologians call “substitutionary atonement.” The ram went to the altar in the place of Isaac just as Christ went to the cross in our place!


Praise the Lord that He provided Himself a sacrifice for our sins and that His Son took our place on the cross!

Friday, 27 May 2005

Now I know that you fear God

...lay not thy hand upon the lad... for know I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me.” - Genesis 22v12

Whenever I read this account, with six children of my own, I think about how Abraham must have felt. We have been marvellously blessed with children. Abraham had to wait until he was one hundred years old to have the promised son. I cannot, in the furthest stretch of my imagination doing what Abraham did.

Verse 10 declares, “And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.”

Here we find Abraham facing a test. Through the years Abraham had a record of not trusting God completely. Many time he had tried to sort things out his way. Now, in this time of testing, what would Abraham do. Did he really, truly, trust God.

We know the story well. The angel of the Lord intervened and the life of Isaac was spared. The angel of the Lord informs us why Isaac was spared, “because you have not withheld your son from me.”



Today we must ask ourselves, “Is there anything that I am withholding from God?” There all kinds of thing that we can withhold. Some withhold the chequebook. Some their popularity. Sometimes it is family and friends. It can even be a job situation. An attitude may develop that says, “Lord, you can have everything but...”

Abraham was not withholding the most precious thing in the world. By this God knew that Abraham finally truly feared Him.

Do we really, truly, totally fear the Lord? Do we show it by our lives? What is it that we are holding back from Him that indicates that we do not fear and trust Him as we should? Lets examine our lives and make sure that there in nothing that we are holding back from Him.

Thursday, 26 May 2005

We Will Come Again to You

And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship and come again to you.” Genesis 22v6

It appears the Abraham has finally learned to trust God. After all of the mistakes, fears, doubts, lies, and manipulations he came to a supreme test. We saw yesterday how quickly he responded to God's call on him to sacrifice Isaac, he moved immediately. Now we are given a bit more insight into Abraham's heart.

As he and Isaac prepare to go up to the mountain Abraham tell the servants to mind the donkey, and that he and Isaac are going up to worship and that THEY will return. Abraham finally had absolute confidence that God was going to fulfil His promises. According to Hebrews 11v19 Abraham fully believed that God was going to allow him to sacrifice Isaac and that God would then raise him back to life. Abraham had learned that even death could not stop God achieving His purpose.

What did Abraham choose to do during this test of his faith? “We will go and worship...” It is not often that we associate worship with testings. Abraham had learn to trust and worship his God even when God called on Him to sacrifice his son.

May we trust God enough to give Him our worship, knowing, like Abraham, that God always does right.

Wednesday, 25 May 2005

Obeying God

“..and he [God] said to Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And He said, Take now they son, thine only son, whom thou lovest ... and sacrifice him ... and Abraham rose up early and saddled his ass... Genesis 22v1-3

Surely Abraham must have felt like the situation with Isaac was done and settled. Isaac was at last twenty years old by now. Things seem to be going alone fine when God calls out to Abraham again.

Look how Abraham responded. When God calls him he simply says, “Here I am.” What a wonderful, ready response to the call of God. It reminds me of Isaiah and, “Here am I Lord, send me.”

God's instructions must have caught Abraham off guard. Take your only son, whom you love so much, and sacrifice him! Wow – what a shock. I wonder how I would have responded. I don't like the fact that my children are not around me and that as we get older chances are that we will not see them near as much as they like, but Abraham is told to sacrifice his only son!

Abraham was not rattled. Early the next morning he saddles up and heads out. He proved his obedience and his faith by his action. True obedience always results in action. It is one thing to obey in our minds, but obedience is cared out when we act.

What wonderful faith Abraham showed by his actions. Lord, help us to trust you enough that when you call we say, “Here I am!” Then help us to move no matter how difficult the task laid before us may seem. Knowing that our faith is proven by our actions.

Tuesday, 24 May 2005

As He had said

And the Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to unto Sarah as he had spoken” - Genesis 21v1

What wonderful words! After twenty-five years of waiting, plotting,and human scheming by Abraham and Sarah the entire perspective changes. Now we hear from God!

I notice a couple of major points here.

1 – The Lord visited Sarah as He had said
2 – The Lord did unto Sarah as He had spoken

Several times Abraham and Sarah and tried to sort things out their way. Every human effort failed and only made things worse. Now – God acts according to what He says.

Isn't it a great comfort to know that God does what He says he will do for us? If God says it we can trust that it is true and that He will do it. It may not be according to my plan, or the way I want to see it done, or according to my time frame, but God will act as He has spoken.

Why is it that we fail to grasp this? Why do we want God to act as we say instead of as He says? Because our ways our not His ways, our thoughts are not His thoughts. As the heavens are higher than the earth so are His ways than our ways and His thoughts than our thoughts.

God says that His word will not return void.
God says that we will reap if we faint not.
God says that all things work together for good, them those who love God and are the called according to His purpose.

Do we believe that? Can we trust God to do as “He had said?” Did God love Sarah any more than me?

May we trust God in every situation to do “as He had said.”

Monday, 23 May 2005

What Sawest Thou?

And Abimelech said unto Abraham. What sawest thou, that thou hast done this thing?” - Genesis20v10

We would think, after all that God has done for Abraham, that Abraham would be able to trust God by now. Abraham repeats his lie of many years ago regarding telling king Abimelech that Sarah is his sister instead of his wife, fearing that he would be killed for her. Fortunately, God intervenes and keeps the king from sinning with Sarah (v6). Still, Abimelech is charged with returning Sarah to Abraham.

Early the next morning Abimelech arises to sort things out. He sends his servants to get Abraham. Can we imagine the scene? Here we find the pagan king Abimelech confronting God's man Abraham with his sin! How humiliating that must have been.

Abimelech knew the problem. I really like the King James rendering here - “What sawest thou..?” Parrowphrased we would say, “What did you see that made you do this?”

Like many of us, or all of us at times, Abraham had an eye problem. What he saw with his eyes got him into trouble. What a feeble excuse Abraham had - “Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife's sake.”

Abraham saw a situation and thought, whether he would admit it or not, that God could not handle it, so he took matters into his own hands. Once again, he “blew it.”

How like many of us was Abraham? He did not like what he saw, thought that God could not take care of it, so acted in his own foolishness. What do we see today that makes us think and act the way we do? How often do we walk by sight instead of by the spirit?

May we be reminded again of the oft repeated verse, 2 Corinthians 4v18, as to what we should be seeing today - “While we look not at the things that are seen, but the things that are not seen, for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal.”

Remind us Father not to act on what we see and think, but instead on Your Word and on eternity!

Sunday, 22 May 2005

Vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked

And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat at the gate of Sodom.” -
Genesis 19v1

We see the tragic result of where compromise leads. The first time we read of Lot's relationship to Sodom we saw that he “pitched his tent” in that direction. Next, we saw that he dwelt in Sodom. Now, he is sitting at the gates of the city with the city leaders. What a vicious cycle of sin begins we we allow our sights to be set on wickedness. Lot's sin goes so far that when the Sodomites come after his visitors he offers them his virgin daughters instead. His family's sin is so deeply engrained that his wife can't help turning around for one last look. It is so bad that his daughters try to solve the problem of no heir by getting Lot drunk and committing incest with him.

How did things get this bad? How does a just man (2 Peter 2v7) get to the point that he will offer his children to the wickedness of the world? It all began when he pitched his tent in that direction. Lot was a saved man, 2 Peter 2v6-7 makes that clear. Yet those verse also say that he was “vexed,” or worn down by the sins of the city. They vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their wickedness. Although Lot was delivered he lost his wife, and his daughters fell into deep sin.

That is the very nature of wickedness. If we pitch our tents in its direction we are asking for trouble. We must do all we can to avoid looking in the wrong direction.

Yet today we are surrounded by wickedness. Sodom is amongst us. What do we do know as we find ourselves vexed by the filthy conversation of the world. We do well to heed the words of Philippians 2v15 - “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” In order to spare our families we must, by the grace of God, live lives that are blameless and harmless, shining as lights in this world of great darkness.

Saturday, 21 May 2005

I Know Abraham

For I know him [Abraham], that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord. To do justice and judgement...” Genesis 18v19

Here we are privy to God “deciding” (for lack of a better word) on whether or not He should tell Abraham about the coming destruction of Sodom. Then we read some challenging words for us. “For I know Abraham,” God says, “that he will command his children ... they shall keep the way of the Lord ...”

“I know Abraham.” What does that say to us? We know from the wonderful words of Psalm 139 that we can take great comfort in the fact that God knows all about us. Yet, in this case we find another great truth.

Basically, God knew that He could trust Abraham. God knew that Abraham was going to do the right thing. He knew that Abraham could be trusted with His words. God knew that He could take Abraham into His confidence.

I must ask myself today, “what does God know about me?” Can God trust me to do the right thing in every situation. Does God know that He can trust me to “keep the way of the Lord” myself? Does He know that He can trust me to teach my children to do the same?

May we strive, with God's help, to be the kind of Christian that God knows He can always trust to do the right thing.

Friday, 20 May 2005

Is anything too hard for the Lord?

Is anything to hard for the Lord? At the appointed time...” Genesis 18v14

Abraham is now at least one hundred years old and Sarah at least ninety. They have been waiting and waiting for the promised son. They have tried everything to try and see their prayers answered. Abraham even suggested to God that God let Ishmael be permitted to be his heir. Yet, still no son, still no answer to prayer. Circumcision has been added as sign of God's covenant, but still no son.

One day Abraham sees three men approaching his tent. Being a gracious host he invited them into dinner and Sarah prepares a great meal for them. While Sarah is in another part of the tent the men tell Abraham that Sarah is indeed going to have a child. This old woman, far past the years of child bearing hears the comment and does the natural thing – she laughs!

We now discover that the visitor is the LORD Himself. He says, “Why did Sarah laugh? Is anything to hard for the LORD? At the appointed time ... Sarah shall have a son.”

The rhetorical question is obvious and the answer is clear. “Is anything to hard for the Lord?” Is giving a ninety year old woman a son too hard for the Lord? Is meeting our financial needs to hard for the Lord?” Is seeing souls saved in a seemingly hopeless situation too hard for the Lord? Is your present trial too hard for the Lord?

The answer is clear – nothing is too hard for the Lord.

We must look what comes next though, “In the appointed time...” Nothing is too hard for the Lord, clearly, but He will work “in the appointed time.” God always does His work in the appointed time. He doesn't work in the time I appoint but in the time that he appoints.

Is anything too hard for the Lord? Not in the appointed time!!

Thursday, 19 May 2005

Walking before God

...the Lord appeared unto Abram and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

It is amazing to me that Abram continues to try and debate with God. All the plans, all these promises, reconfirmation of the covenants, Abram still doesn't like the way it is going. As God prepares to seal the covenant He appears to Abram once again and makes things clear to Abram.

There are some marvellous thoughts here. First, is the very fact that God appears to Abram. Think for a moment – the Almighty God Who created the universe appears to a weak, doubting, sin cursed man. Why does God appear to man? Simply because He loves us – it is only because He loves us.

What does God say to Abram? I am the Almighty God. We need to be be ALWAYS aware that we have an ALMIGHTY God – NOTHING in beyond His power. Nothing is outside of the realm of His ability. When it seems that we are overwhelmed by the the circumstances of the world remember that our God is the Almighty God.

Then God says, “Walk before me and be thou blameless” (NKJV rendering). As God's children every step we take is in front of Him. As we walk though today, let us be sure that we do so with a full awareness that we do so before His face. We may think that we are sneaking behind his back – but every step is before His eyes.

Finally – we are instructed to be “perfect” in the KJV. The Word here means mature, complete, and blameless. Of course, we are only fully blameless in Christ It is up to us, however to walk accordingly.

May we be fully aware to day that we walk before God's face and may we then walk in such a way that honours Him.

Wednesday, 18 May 2005

Beer-la-hai-roi

...thou shalt call his name Ishmael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction ... amd she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me ... the well was called Beer-la hai-roi.”

Imagine poor Hagar. A simple servant, doing what was in her day one of the generally accepted jobs of a servant. Nine months of pregnancy knowing that the child she was carrying would not be hers. In the midst of her pregnancy she begins to “look down on Sarai” for some reason and as a result is finds herself in the wilderness. An emotional pregnant woman is, in her mind, alone and undone.

Suddenly an Angel appears to her – in the case God in the form of an angel. He gives her the promise of a great people through her son and then gives her a reminder. “Call your son Ishmael, because God has heard you in your affliction.” The name Ishmael means “God hears” so Hagar had a constant reminder of the truth that God does hear in affliction.

Next she gives her perspective on the situation. She calls the Lord “El-roi” - “God sees me”. Then she names the place where this happens “Beer-la-hai-roi” - “God lives and sees me.”

After this difficult situation Hagar leaves with a new picture of God in her heart. This servant, who was used as a tool for Abram and Sarai to try and accomplish God's work, is reminded that God hears her, sees her, and is alive.

How often do we forget those simple truths. Affliction comes and we think that God is deaf to our pleas, blind to our troubles, and dead and powerless to help.

May we be ever mindful of these marvellous truths.
Ishmael – God hears me
El-roi – God sees me
Beer-la-hai-roi – The God Who is alive sees

Praise the Lord that the He is alive and that He sees me and hears me!

Tuesday, 17 May 2005

Heeding the wrong voice

...and Abram heeded the voice of Sarai.” - Genesis 16v2

How Abram and Sarai must have yearned to see God work! God had promised Abram that their descendants would number greater than the grains of sand or the stars in the heavens. Ten years later nothing had happened, not even one child. Sarai had had enough. Custom allowed her to use a servant as a surrogate mother so she advised Abram to go to Hagar to bear a child for her. Sarai took matters into her own hands. God wasn't getting the job done so it was time to act!

Although no one knew the consequences at the time the next words we hear are going to have a tragic result result, “...and Abram heeded the voice of Sarai.” After all, it only made sense. They had been waiting ten years and nothing had happened. Perhaps this was how God was going to give Abram a great nation. Maybe God needed their help. So, Abram gives in.

When we choose to heed the wrong voice we never know what the result will be. Abram's choice had an impact that is very real today. To find out, let's move on to verses 10-12. Here God is speaking to Hagar after she has been run off by Sarai. “I will multiply your seed exceedingly ... behold, you are with child, and thou shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael ... and he will be a wild man, his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of his brethren.”

We may well ask, “What is so amazing about these words?” The answer is simple and self explanatory. Ishmael was the ancestor of the Arabic peoples. God words to Hagar have come true. Her descendants are a great people, so much today that they cannot be numbered. Daily news stories show how they are in conflict with “every man” and every man in conflict with them.

What tragic results from simply heeding the wrong voice. God said - “I will make of you a great nation.” Sarai said, “go in my my maid that I may obtain children by her.” God's way is always the right way.

May we never succumb to heeding the wrong voice, no matter how tempting it might seem!

Monday, 16 May 2005

Abram believed God

And he believed in the LORD; and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” - Genesis 15v6

Abram was still not too sure about things after the situation in Sodom and after God assurance that He would protect and provide for him. - “Lord, what are you going to give me ... Lord, you have given me nothing...” At this stage we don't see any great example of faith! Abram was human, just like us. He had doubts and fears about trusting God. Other times we see him act similarly.

Yet, in spite of those fears we see Abram make the most important choice of all. In verse 6 we read a statement which is repeated five times in the New Testament - “Abram believed in the LORD; and He accounted it to him for righteousness.”

These are simple words, but they are of profound importance. Notice that it does not say, “Abram did the best he could...” or, “Abram was very religious in all his ways...” or, “Abram did all that the Lord asked of Him.” No, very simply we read - “Abram believed God...” This simple statement should solve the majority of the theological debates. Most religions are based on what man must “do.” True faith is based on believing what God has done.

What was the result? Was Abram made righteous? The Bible says that God accounted him as righteous. No one s righteous apart from Jesus Christ, but in salvation we can be accounted as righteous in Christ. God's very righteousness is imputed to sinful man. I no longer am trying to please God in my own feeble attempts at righteousness, for now God counts me as righteous.

Thank you Father, for accounting me as righteousness through the precious blood of Your Son! Remind me of that daily and help to believe you in EVERY situation.

Sunday, 15 May 2005

Don't be afraid Abram

The word of the Lord came to Abram ... saying, 'Fear not Abram: I am your thy shield and thy exceedingly great reward.'” - Genesis 15v1

How often do we do the right thing, know we are doing the right thing, and then shortly after begin to have second thoughts? Here Abram had just taken a firm stand for God, telling the king of Sodom, in so many words, to keep his filthy lucre. We don't know Abram's heart of course, but something happens for God to intervene here and speak to Abram. The chapter break is unfortunate here, it break the chain of thought. “After these things happened” we read in verse one, the Lord came to Abram in a dream, saying...” Abram had just passed up a chance for great wealth as He stood up for God. By rejecting the king of Sodom's offer he rejected any chance of an alliance and future protection from the king.

God comes to give him great assurance. “Don't be afraid Abram.” These are precious words that God speaks several times in Scripture. So often we find ourselves battered about by fearful thoughts. We read over and over again words like - “Fear not for I am with thee” and “...though I walk through the valley of death I will not be afraid.” Fear will do so much to destroy our effectiveness for the Lord.

What kind of assurance did the Lord give Abram here?

I will be your shield (protection)
I will be your exceeding great reward (provision)

What more could we want? Do we prefer the protection and provision of Sodom or the protection and provision of God? If we could ever realise that we have God's own protection and provision perhaps we could get out focus on Him instead of chasing after the world's protection and provision.

What wonderful words to remember - “Don't be afraid today Roger, I will be your shield of protection and I will provide for you with exceeding great reward.”

Remind us today Lord that we need not go pursue the protection and provision of the world because we have those beyond measure in You!!

Saturday, 14 May 2005

Dealing with Sodom

And they took Lot, Abram's son, who dwelt in Sodom...” - Genesis 14v12
“And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lifted up my hand unto the Lord, the most High God, the possessor of heaven and earth ... I will not take anything that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, 'I have made Abram rich.” - Genesis 14v22-24

Isn't it sad to see how quickly sin has an impact? In chapter 13 of Genesis Lot “pitched his tent towards Sodom.” Now he lives in Sodom. He knew this was wrong, he knew what kid of city it was, but he chose to live amongst the wickedness.

Next thing you know Lot finds himself the captive of an alliance of kings. We must note that sin has its consequences. If Lot had stayed out of Sodom he would never have been made a prisoner. Sadly though, sin affects more than just the sinner. In order to rescue Lot Abram was forced to put himself and 318 warriors at risk in order to rescue him. Abram and his men were successful in their effort. They rescued Lot, along with all of the war booty, along with the women who were captured and bring them all back to Abram's camp.

Later, after an encounter with the mysterious Melchizedek, Abram encountered the new king of Sodom who offered to allow Abram to keep all of the goods of the city if he would only return to people of the city.

We now see the proper response to wickedness. Abram boldly proclaimed - “I serve the Most High God. He possesses heaven and earth. I won't take anything from you for I don't want you to ever be able to say that you made me rich. God is the only One who could do that!”

We notice to the two attitudes toward the world. Lot was quick to accept all the world had to offer. Abram would not even take that which he could fairly have laid claim to. Lot was still focused on the temporal, Abram the eternal. “Look not on the things that are seen, but the things that are not seen. For the things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4v18).

May the Lord remind us and strengthen us to reject the fleshly eyes of Lot and have the spiritual eyes of Abram.

Friday, 13 May 2005

The Importance of Tent-pitching

...and Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan [that was well watered everywhere]...and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.” - Genesis13v10-13

What an opportunity Lot had!He and Abram had come the conclusion that the land there were sharing could not provide for both of them. Abram took Lot and told him that he could pick out whichever land he wanted and Abram would take what was left.

Lot jumped at the opportunity! He looked out and saw the then beautiful plain of Jordan, which was “well watered everywhere. The choice was clear - “Why, I'll take the plane of Jordan!” Abram agreed and received God's promise that God would give him all the land and make a great nation.

Notice though where Lot sets up house. “Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom.” Lot first of all chose the plain that he saw looked the best. There is nothing wrong with that as Abram gave him the choice. We see that there is a problem though. Sodom was well known for its wickedness, the men there we “exceeding sinful before the Lord.” Yet, Sodom decides to set up his tent in close proximity to the city. He lays the trap for future problems by his fleshly decision. We will see more about this later.

In Christ we have the freedom to make our own decisions. Numerous times today we will be able to decide what we are going to do in various settings. The question we must ask ourselves is this - “Where are we going to pitch our tents?” Most of us our surrounded by “Sodoms” today. May none of us make the foolish decision today to pitch our own tents towards Sodom. No matter how tempting the land around may appear may we run from our own “Sodoms” instead of pitching our tent toward them.

Thursday, 12 May 2005

Following God

Now the Lord had said to Abram, Get thee out of thy country…so Abram departed…” – Genesis 12v1,4

Can you imagine what it would be like for God to appear and tell you that He wants you pick up house and move, and tell you only that He will tell you where to go? This is exactly what happened to Abram. God told him to leave his country and his family and just go. We read just a couple of verse later that Abram departed, as God has told him to do.

Abram showed tremendous faith here. He simply chose to follow God’s way instead of the convenient way. This sounds great for Abram, but what about us? Nothing is more dear to most of us that our home and our family. We hate the thought of giving them up, or doing anything to rock the boat of our comfort zone.

Following God is not always an easy thing to do. It does not always (although it very well may) involve a physical departure from home and family. Sometimes it simply means that as we follow God we may be called upon to depart from the ways of our family. Sometimes we must absent ourselves from their way of life to follow Christ. Abram knew the concept which Jesus would later relate in Luke 9v23 – “…if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me…”

In the midst of God’s instructions to Abram we read these words, “…and I will bless you…” We know from the history of Israel that the nation did not always appear humanly speaking to be blessed. In fact, we find the first trouble in the end of this very chapter. A great famine came upon the people. This reminds me that sometimes we must endure the famines to see the blessing of God. However, we can be assured that God fulfils His promise and we know that the blessing of God was on Abram and his family. God blesses obedience in His way and His timing. We must rest assured in that.

Lord, help me to be like Abram. Help me to place more importance on following you than on ANYTHING else!

Wednesday, 11 May 2005

Making a name

“…let us build us a city, and a tower…and lest us make a name…” Genesis 11v4

Here we find human civilisation truly beginning. Some time has passed since man first began to call upon the name of the Lord. Sadly, as the population grows man turns his focus off of the name of the Lord and the important becomes how to make a name for themselves. Of course we know the rest of the story. God comes down and scatters man over the face of the earth. This did not destroy man’s desire. There have been many attempts though the years for civilisation to “build a tower” in order to leave God out and make a name for mankind.

This issue however this morning is personal however. There is a lesson here for us as well. We must ask ourselves today, “What is going to guide me through the day? Is it a desire to call upon the name of the Lord for His direction? Or is my desire to take steps to make a name for myself?”

This is a fundamental question of life. Whose name is more important, mine or God’s?”

Lord help me to live today in such a way that making a name for myself is minimised and calling upon your blessed Name is maximised!

Tuesday, 10 May 2005

Love in a rainbow

“I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a token of a covenant between me and the earth.” – Genesis 9v13

I am grateful for all of creation. I love all times of terrain. I love to see the seasons change. In this country we have all kinds of beauty. Because of the mixture of rain and sun we get to see rainbows on a regular basis. We even have driven into the very base of a rainbows a couple of times. It is an eerie feeling to see the mixture of colours in the air all around you, almost mystical. (Sadly, there was no pot of gold there, maybe it was as the other end.) We’ve seen many double rainbows, a few triple rainbows, and even a quadruple rainbow.

We all know that rainbows have a perfectly logical scientific explanation, but they are so more than just a natural phenomena. God meant them for a purpose as He tells us here. They are a sign of a promise that God made to man.

We can read over that and miss something of vital importance. God makes promises to men!! The eternal, perfect, holy, omnipotent God made, in this case, an unconditional promise to sinful man. He would never again destroy the earth with water. In it itself that is a great promise, but the very fact that God would make a promise is astounding in itself!

Why would an all-powerful God make a promise to man. The answer is simple – out of His live for us. We deserve nothing from God, but because He loves us He chooses to make promises to us. In this case he chose to remind us of that love with a wonderful token – the rainbow! Next time you have the joy of seeing a rainbow remember it as a token of God’s love for us!

In fact, all of God’s creation should remind us of His love. Look at these words from “The Valley of Vision.”

“When I feel the warmth of the sun may I praise the who art the Sun of righteousness with healing power.
When I feel the tender rain may I think of the gospel showers that water my soul.
When I walk by the riverside may I praise thee for the stream that makes the eternal city glad, and washes white the robes that I may have the right to the tree of life.”

Thank you Father, for the token of your covenant!

Monday, 9 May 2005

God's Remembrance

And God remembered Noah…” - Genesis 8v1

Noah and his family have been in the ark for about six months. Flood waters cover the earth, and no matter how they look all they can see is water. There is not sight of land and no end is in sight. From their perspective all they have to look forward to staying afloat in the flood.

Sometimes our lives can feel the same way. We are staying afloat, but floodwaters surround us. Our floodwaters may not be like Noah’s. Our floodwaters may be financial, emotional, family, physical, or any number of things. These are no less real than the physical floodwaters that Noah and his family saw. Perhaps today you are looking out over floodwaters of some sort in your own life.

If so we can take great comfort from these simple words – “and God remembered Noah.” This does not mean, by any stretch of the imagination that God had forgotten Noah, it simply means that God “called Noah to mind.” God is omniscient, He never “forgets” His people. However, here God calls Noah and his situation to mind. He chooses to deal with Noah’s situation. From this point on we read of how God begins to dry up the floodwaters. There are six months more to spend an the ark, but God is working to sort out the situation. Noah cannot see the hand of God, but God has “remembered” Noah and the answer is on the way.

Do we ever feel forgotten by God in the midst of the floods of our lives? Let us take great comfort in the fact that God remembers us just as He did Noah! God is at work, even if we cannot see it. He has not forgotten us in the flood!

Sunday, 8 May 2005

...and the Lord shut him in...

“…and the Lord shut Him in…and only Noah remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.” – Genesis 7v16,23

I am so glad to read these words – “And the Lord shut him in.” It is one of those phrases that we can just pass over as part of a very familiar historical event. There are many great lessons in the account of the flood, but today we are going to focus on this one thing – “and the Lord shut Him in.”

Why is this little phrase so important? I think it puts God’s role of deliverance in perspective. In 1 Peter 3v20 the ark is used to illustrate salvation. Noah and his family had faith in God, they acted upon their faith by building and boarding the ark as their only hope of deliverance. The way out of destruction was there, but only eight people trusted it enough to act. When they boarded the ark their role in deliverance was done. Then, God shut the door and they were the only ones to survive.

God does the same thing in salvation. He calls us to allow others to know they way if deliverance – in essence we “build an ark” when we share the gospel with others. Noah spent 120 years building an ark. At the end of that time only he and his family accepted God’s way of salvation. Today we know that strait is the gate and narrow is the path that leads to salvation and there are few that follow it.

The great comfort comes in the knowledge that those who enter in are sealed as assuredly as Noah and his family were when God shut the door. When God shuts the door it is shut, deliverance has been made. When I got saved God “shut the door” behind me. Praise God that He shut me in! The closing of the door was His work, not mine. Therefore I can be assured that His work was final – there can be no undoing on my part. That is why Jesus can say “I will never leave thee or forsake thee.”

Thank you Lord that you closed the door of my salvation. No matter what comes across my path that is not going to change!

Saturday, 7 May 2005

Noah Found Grace

Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord…Noah was a just man and perfect…Noah walked with God…this did Noah according to all that God commanded him.” Genesis 6v8,9,22

If anyone had a right to feel all alone in serving the Lord it was Noah. Look how the Bible describes Noah’s day - “God saw the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the hearts was only evil continually.”

Things were bad in Noah’s day. God makes that abundantly clear - every imagination of the hearts was only evil continually. It some ways that sounds like today doesn’t it? Pick up your newspaper, watch the news, or visit your favourite news source on the internet. As I read an Irish paper this week I found at least two amazing stories on one double page spread. One story was about the bodies of dead babies being discovered in an attic in England. The other involved a man in Germany who had cannibalised a man he had lured into his home for homosexual activities. This was not an unusual day for the news. It does seem at times today that every imagination of the hearts of men is only evil continually.

God appears ready to wipe out His Creation. Then we come to verse 8 – “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Noah was different from all the rest. He was just and fair in his actions, he was morally upright and lived a life that no one could criticise. He was not perfect in the sense that we think of the word, but there was nothing that anyone could point out in his life. He was also obedient to God. We know that because at the end of the chapter we find that he did all that God commanded him.

We certainly live in a day that needs some Noahs. We complain that it is so hard to live for the Lord in such a wicked and perverse generation. Those who stand for right and for God today are often mocked and attacked for their stand. It may be difficult to stand for God today.

There is a way through this mess – “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Those who are saved today have already been recipients of God’s grace in salvation. We live by the very grace of God today. We too have found grace in the eyes of the Lord! His grace will enable us to stand even if these days so much like Noah’s day.

The hymn writer put it this way – “Through many dangers toils and snares, I have already come. Tis grace that brought us safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”

Thank you Father that your children have found grace in your sight. Strengthen us to live like Noah in our own day of great wickedness.

Friday, 6 May 2005

Walking with God

“…Enoch walked with God…for three hundred years…and he was not for God took him.” Genesis 5v22-23

Here in the midst of a series of “begats” we find an amazing testimony of an Old Testament saint. Seven generations from Adam we encounter a man named Enoch. We read very little of this man. Except for the fact that he was a prophet who told of the Saviour’s coming to vanquish sin and bring about final victory over evil (read Jude vv14-15).

What do we read about Enoch here in Genesis? We do not read that he was a famous political leader. We do not read that he was a successful businessman. We don’t even read about his spiritual work. We do know that he didn’t have to face death. God simply took him. His walk put him so close to God that God spared him a normal death. However, that is not the topic of our thoughts this morning.

Our focus is on these simple words – “Enoch walked with God.” For much of the world there is one measure of success – “He who has the most toys wins.” There is a mad rush to “make it” by having loads of money and loads of possessions. For some success comes in being famous and great accomplishments. Even preachers can mark their success by the size of their church or the number of converts. Often, if one is just that average, everyday Christian they can feel like they really are not that important.

I think we can take from today’s passage that God has a different measure of success. “Enoch walked with God.” What a blessing if, at the end of my life, the one thing that could be said of me is that “Roger walked with God.” If I indeed walk with God than everything else will fall into place. It may not be what I what, but it will be what God wants. As I walk by His side I am able to follow His plans and directions for me. We need never fear or falling short if we walk with God as Enoch did.

Lord, may it be said of my life that “Roger walked with God.” May it be said of each of us that “____________ walked with God.”

Thursday, 5 May 2005

Then men began to call upon the name of the LORD

…then men began to call upon the name of the LORD.” – Genesis 4v26

How grateful we can be for these words. Adam and Eve’s hearts must have been broken as they saw the result of their sin. It was reflected in the murder of one of their children by another. The descendents of Cain when ton in their sin. Sadly, other of their children must have taken the same path, for we read of what happens to Cain’s line in this chapter as well. God could have allowed this to continue without hope and eventually destroyed the human race completely.

Yet God is merciful. Even at this time we showed His mercy by giving Adam and Eve another Son. Their oldest was a murderer, their second oldest his victim. Others had chosen their own way. Yet, God steps in and gives them a son who will allow his divine plan to be carried out. Seth is born, his name means “compensation,” and it is through his line that God will carry out his plan.

We read in verse 26 that. “then, men began to call upon the name of the LORD.” We learn from Scriptures that this is man’s only hope. More than twenty times in the Bible we see this phrase and its importance cannot be missed. Here is a sample

“And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.” (1 Kings 18v24)

“And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.” (Joel 2v32)

“And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2v21)

“For whosever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10v13)

Prise God that Seth’s descendents began to call upon the name of the Lord! Praise God that His mercy extends to us, that even today, all who call upon the name of the Lord can be saved!

Wednesday, 4 May 2005

“…I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself…”

“…I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself…” – Genesis 3v10

Adam and Eve had fallen into sin. The subtle one had come and shown them that which was “good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and that which would make one wise.” Choosing flesh over spirit, they gave in, Eve first and then Adam. Immediately they are filled with shame and attempt to cover their newly revealed nakedness by making coverings for themselves.

Later in the day it comes time to meet with God. There hear Him coming, but hide themselves. God, of course, as seen it all. He calls out “Where are you?” God is not fooled – He is forcing them to admit that they are hiding and explain themselves. Adam responds with the words above, “I was afraid, for I was naked, and I hid myself.”

It is very easy for us to look back at Adam and Eve and condemn them for their sin, and it is deserved. Yet, I think they have a lesson for us. Sadly the world around us have no problem walking about in the nakedness of their sin, but that is not the lesson for us. How often do we walk boldly before God in out own leaf coverings? How often do we sin as children of God and never deal with it, hiding the sin in our own pride? Often we don’t even have the decency to be ashamed of our sin as Adam and Eve were, We try to hide it, thinking that maybe God can’t see it.

Of course, as children of God our sin is covered by the blood of Christ. However, when we sin as Christians we must ask forgiveness to keep our walk with God pure and right. When we try to hide our sins in our own works, we are not better than Adam and Eve. In fact, we may be worse because we are children of God and are not even ashamed of our sin!

Father, remind me today of the immensity of sin as your child. Help me to remember that I am clothed in the righteousness of Your Son through His shed blood. Give me that shame of sin that Adam and Eve had, yet the knowledge that I need not try to hide. All I need to come into your presence, admit my sin, and accept your glorious forgiveness.

Tuesday, 3 May 2005

Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh

“…bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh…” – Genesis 2v23

I am not much of one for romance stories. They are fine in their place, but their place is usually on someone’s bookshelf other than mine.

Yet, here we read the very first love story. Adam had been all alone. He had tended the garden and seen all of the animal pass by to receive their nomenclature. I can imagine day after day passing, and after a while Adam getting depressed as he went through name after name. Finally they were all done, and yet Adam was still all alone.

God saw Adam’s loneliness and acted. While Adam slept God took part of his body and crafted a woman. When Adam saw her he proclaimed, “At last, this is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh!” This meant much more than just the fact that she was taken from his side. This was the one who was suitable for Adam when all else fell short.

Our love story does not end there. God lays out a perfect plan for these two lovers. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and the two shall be one flesh.” Since there was no father and mother yet the Holy Spirit added this comment when Moses wrote these words. Here is God’s plan so perverted by sinful man. When a man leaves his parents the Bible says he cleaves to his wife. There can be no doubt as to what is intended here. The Hebrew word is in a tense that means that the man is to “cling, cleave to, stay with” his wife. In case that isn’t clear enough he makes it even more definite – “and the two shall be one flesh”

Oh, what a wonderful plan our loving God laid out for us! One man, one woman, one life together! This is God’s very first instruction on relationships. When that collapses can we be surprised when everything collapses as well?

May those of us who are married be fully committed to God’s perfect plan and his perfect will. May we fully instruct our children in the importance of God’s way in relationships. May those considering marriage be totally committed to a marriage according to God’s pattern.

Thank you Lord for my “help-meet.” The one who is indeed bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh! Thank you for Your perfect plan. May we stand firm for that pattern in a world which is so quickly abandoning it!

Monday, 2 May 2005

Behold, it was very good

Behold, it was very good.” Genesis 1v31

In Genesis 1v1-2 we see the earth described as:

-without form
-void
-dark.

Then in verse 3 we read some amazing words, “And God said…” Throughout the chapter we see those words repeated – “and God said, and God saw, and God made, and God called.” Towards the end of every day we read these words. “And God saw that it was good.” After six days the work is done. What was without form now has mountains and valleys, rivers, streams, and oceans. Continents have taken shape. What was void is now full of life, plants, animals, and man himself. What was darkness now has the glorious sunshine by day and the wonders of the moon and stars by night.

What does God say when it is all done? “And behold, it was very good.” That word “very” always has the picture of exceeding greatness – “and behold, it was exceeding good!”

God says later in Scriptures, “I am the Lord, I change not.” The God of exceeding goodness in Creation has not changed one iota. He is still the same. He is still the God of goodness. Our God Who observed His Creation and proclaimed it “exceeding good” in Genesis 1v31 also said, “And we know that all things work together for good, to them who love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8v28)

I have a friend who uses this motto, "God is good, everyday, all the time."

Who is the true judge of what is good? The answer is clear, the God Who created goodness. May we remember today, that the God Who called His divine Creation good, says that all things work together for good for His people. Remind me today Lord, that You are the One who defines goodness!

Sunday, 1 May 2005

In the beginning God...

In the beginning God…” – Genesis 1v1

If any human had written the Bible we would have begun with a preface or an introduction introducing the whole concept of God. We would have tried to prove that He existed, described His character, and attempted to rebuff any arguments about His Being.

Yet God, in His infinite wisdom, doesn’t waste time with that. He simply says, “In the beginning God…” No argument, no point to prove, no explanations, no debate – simply – “In the beginning God…”

There is not a whole lot of need to heavy theological reasoning here. The Bible simply says that when beginning began, God was already there. Psalm 90v2 makes this clear, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hast formed the earth, and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou are God.

I love the fact that God is eternal. Too we try to put God in a “time box” of our making. We try to hold Him to our schedules, to make Him fit into our day-planners, and to force Him to keep appointments that we have made for Him. I was once told, “God has never been late.” Of course He can’t be late! He is outside of time and unbound by it. Our timetables and schedules are just that, ours, not His. May we rest in the fact that “in the beginning” of every situation we face God is already there and He has known about that situation for ├Žons. I am so thankful that in our time-bound world, we are children of the Timeless One.

Lord, “in the beginning” of this new day, remind us that you are already here. You know what is coming. Help us to live by your timetable, not our own.