Genesis 12 – Flawed BUT Blessed

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So far, in Genesis, we have been on a roll. We have moved quickly from creation, the fall, Cain and Able, genealogy, the flood, Noah and the tower of Babel in the first eleven chapters. Today we land at the beginning of Abram’s story and we are going to slow down and sit on his story for the next 14 weeks (chapters 12-24).

I think the perfect foundation to begin this 14 weeks is to look at Genesis 12:1-3. This is where we see the promises that God has for Abram (who will become Abraham).

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-3

I think God is trying to bless Abram. Did you notice he used the word “bless” five times in these three verses? There is a lot of blessing going on, but let’s break it down because within this blessing is three promises that God has for Abram. I think it will be interesting to see how God follows through with each one as we progress through the chapters.

First, God promises that He will show Abram the land that will be his. Second, God promises He will make Abram a great nation and blessed nation. Thirdly, He promises to make Abram a blessing so all the families of the earth will be blessed. Let’s just pause here for a minute and consider the magnitude of these promises. If God had come to me and promised these things, my heart would believe and trust him because I know God is bigger than anything else and can do it all. However, my brain can only fathom so much.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LordFor as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

I believe that somewhere along the way I would have doubted and wondered how and why. I probably would have grown impatient and taken things into my own prideful hands instead of waiting patiently for God to open the doors for me and show me the way.  I know I would have done some of this because I have done this in my own life. And just as I have, so did Abram.

When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, “I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance, and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me, but they will let you live. Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake. Genesis 12:11-13

How could the man who had heard from God and received one of the greatest trinity of promises and blessings a man could ask for think God couldn’t handle his safety with the Egyptians? This seems like small potatoes when you consider the three promises God poured over Abram. But, Abram did forget and caused a big mess. Nothing like sending your wife to be the wife of another. Yikes! I wonder how Sarai (who will become Sarah) thought of all this?

My discovery in all of this is that even Abram was only human. Yes, God spoke to him directly and chose him to pour out an amazing blessing over, but he was still a flawed human being. Just as we are! We try, but we fail sometimes. We trust, but we doubt too. We have faith, but our pride rears its ugly head. I hope you need to hear this as much as I do this week.

We are not perfect, but God still loves us! We can’t be perfect, but God is and is on our side. We will fail sometimes, but God never stops fighting for us. We will fall, but God is always there to take our hand and pick us back up. This life and world are far from perfect too, but God is bigger than all of the mess we see and nothing happens He doesn’t have a handle on. Things don’t make sense sometimes and the sadness can cut deep into our hearts, but God’s plan is perfect and one day we will understand.  God has already won the battle! That part of history has been written. May we all find peace in that truth and promise today.

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Genesis 11 – Communication Error

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“Now the whole earth had one language and the same words.” Genesis 11:1

I remember when my children were babies. There were days and nights where they were fed, clean and rested but still crying (or screaming) and I would wish with all my might they could talk. I needed them to tell me what was wrong. Not being able to communicate with one another is one of the biggest obstacles we can face. Even my dear friend, whose mother had a stroke and was unable to speak or write, realized that without words it was almost impossible to communicate with her mom. The woman who raised her and knew her better than almost anyone. Language can help and it can greatly hinder. Language carries power and Genesis chapter 11 drives that point home.

Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” Genesis 11:4

When all the people on earth spoke one language they could combine all their knowledge, power and resources with great ease. There was nothing to slow them down, but God saw what they were doing with this great power/gift. They were basically creating a large idol to offer sacrifices to their false gods. Their words in verse 4 sound alarmingly self-centered. If I were to paraphrase verse 4, I think it would say,

“Come on guys, let’s build a city for ourselves, we don’t need anyone else’s help. We don’t need God, we have one another.  Let’s make it reach the heavens so everyone thinks we are the biggest and best. Let make ourselves powerful and famous so everyone looks to us in envy.”

I’d like to go on and on about how terrible these guys were. How they were self-centered, prideful, sinners that needed intervention. However, I know I’m guilty of these same sins. Maybe not by building a tower to the heavens, but by trying to do it on my own instead of looking to God for help or by placing goals, objects and worldly desires before God.

Anyway, God wasn’t going to have it. I wonder what He was thinking as He sat and Heaven and looked down on this? Probably, “What the heck are they up to now? It hasn’t been that long since I had to flood the whole earth to get these people started fresh and they are already turning from me – AGAIN.” I mean, what’s a father to do? He already promised not to flood the earth again.

And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down there and confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” Genesis 11:6-7

I love how God says “let us go down there.” He didn’t say, I’m going down there, but let “us” go. So often I think of God acting alone, but he has His people! His Trinity and His legions of angels. God understood the power of language and how it could disrupt their plans and power play. He didn’t need a flood this time, he used the power of language to dispel their evil.

This short chapter really made me consider communication. Sometimes, even in this world of constant communication, there is so much that’s miscommunicated. Even for those of us who speak the same language. Sometimes it isn’t a different language that causes the barrier, but a heart issue like (greed, insecurity, depression, anger, fear, resentment or sin) that can cause our ears to translate someone’s words or actions into something they didn’t intend.

This week I pray we all think and pray deeply about what may be hidden in our hearts that can cause miscommunication between friends, co-workers, spouses and family members. May God expose it and give us each the courage and strength to pluck it out of our hearts so we can hear Him and others more clearly.

 

 

Genesis 10 – The Hunter

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When I first began studying the Bible I always skimmed or skipped over these “genealogy” sections/chapters in the Bible. It was just boring to read a long list of names that I couldn’t pronounce. But as I’ve grown in age and my knowledge of Christ, I have a greater appreciation and interest in genealogy, my own and the ancestors recorded in the Bible.

Chapter 10 is the genealogy of Noah’s three sons. In this chapter alone there are a total of seventy nations accounted for out of these three sons and their offspring. This chapter is rich with historical content and study. We could probably spend a year just exploring this chapter. This might be a fun side study for those of you are enjoy genealogy.

But for today, I want to explore Nimrod.

Cush fathered Nimrod, who was the first powerful man on earth. He was a powerful hunter in the sight of the Lord. That is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a powerful hunter in the sight of the Lord.” His kingdom started with Babylon, . . . (Genesis 10:8-10)

Both my husband and son are bow hunters. This isn’t something I grew up around, but I’ve grown to enjoy the hard work, skill, patience, and adventure this sport requires. So often when we hear the word “hunter” we think of someone with a bow, gun or other weapon stalking deer or other wildlife through the woods. However, with Nimrod when they use the word hunter, they are referring to him being a hunter of men, not wild animals.

Notice they did not say, he was a “fisher” of men (Matthew 4:19), but a hunter of men. This wasn’t a compliment. When we step outside the Bible and read about Nimrod in history books, we find that Nimrod was responsible for the Tower of Babel and trying to get all the nations after the flood to unite. Unfortunately, it wasn’t for their good or because of his great love of people, but his greed and lust for power. Nimrod’s ultimate goal was to rule over the entire population of people on the planet. He hunted for power and control of everyone and everything around him.

This image of being a “fisher” of men versus a hunter of men resonated with me. When we step out and share our faith to draw others to Christ it should be with a heart that wants to find someone, reel them in, marvel over their beauty through Christ and release them back with the knowledge of the grace of God. We shouldn’t approach sharing our faith like a hunter. It isn’t about the stalk, winning the prize, the numbers, and checking them off the list as a goal accomplished. It can be a subtle difference, but easy to distinguish when we approach others with love. Both fisherman and hunters are sportsmen and pursue their prey, but it’s the approach and tools used that make the difference.

I pray God places people in our paths that we can show and offer the love of Christ. May this great love slowly draw them into to His love and light so they may experience His grace, love, and forgiveness.

 

Genesis 9 – Noah’s Sin

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In Scripture, before the flood, drunkenness had not been mentioned as a sin. However, we see in chapter 9 that Noah gets drunk (whether on accident or on purpose) and it is a called out as a sin. I began to wonder why God would include Noah’s sin in the book of Genesis. If a reporter from one our regular media outlets or social magazines was reporting this story about Noah I figure they would either leave it out because drunkenness is so normal and “worldly” these days or they would blow it up into some media scandal that tied up the headlines for days.

Thankfully, God is the author of this book and story! So, why did God leave in this detail of Noah’s story for us? What can we learn or glean from it?

All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 HSB

Just like we can’t condone David’s sins of adultery and murder, we can’t condone Noah’s sin(s) either. I believe God made Noah’s sin, and the sins of so many others, a part of his story in the Bible because He loves us. He wants to train and teach us how to live a righteous life while here in our temporary home. I believe He also wants us to understand that Noah was chosen by God for an incredible task, he worked hard to honor God’s plan and although he sinned, he NEVER lost his salvation. God never left him or gave up on him. Noah fell prey to the weakness of the flesh, as we do, but he God didn’t turn away from Noah. He was redeemed by his Heavenly Father.

In a nutshell, none of us are perfect. Even those who were distinctly chosen by God and written about in the Bible were flawed and fought the flesh and “worldly” pull. Sometimes falling short, but trusting and knowing they were chosen, loved, forgiven and promised salvation through their Heavenly Father. And so it is today, for all of us! Stand up, brush it off, turn the page, hand it over to God, leave it with Him and rely on His strength, voice, and courage to lead you to a deeper of understanding of His great love for each of us.