Genesis 21 – The First Miraculous Birth

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As I’ve said many times already, as we travel through Genesis this year, it’s a book of firsts. And here we see the first miraculous birth. No, Isaac wasn’t born by immaculate conception, as Jesus was, but he was still a miracle. Consider the facts.

The Lord had promised them they would have a child one day, but that was 25 years earlier.  Issac was born Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90.

Abraham and Sarah were old and getting on in years. Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. So she laughed to herself: “After I have become shriveled up and my lord is old, will I have delight?” Genesis 18:11-12 HCSB

Even though people lived longer in the days of the Bible, it’s clear from their comments and laughter that it was not the usual timing for childbearing even in Biblical times.

There is even more proof in Romans when Paul wrote, “He [Abraham] considered his own body to be already dead (since he was about 100 years old) and also considered the deadness of Sarah’s womb, without weakening in the faith.” (v. 19)

Clearly, God didn’t want there to be any question that He was the one who was making this birth happen. Did He want Abraham and Sarah to strengthen their faith and patience muscles? Did He just need to wait for His perfect timing so everything fell into its proper place in history? Or, was He setting the stage right here in the beginning for open hearts and minds to the coming of His Son Jesus and His miraculous birth?

I’m no theologian, but if you have read the entire Bible you understand there’s a common thread woven throughout. A thread of God’s great love, through the sacrifice of His Son, for each of us can be found in every book. So I believe God was preparing all of mankind for the ultimate miraculous birth.  The birth of Jesus!

In fact, if we step back and take a look, we find that Issac wasn’t the only miraculous birth before the final miraculous birth of the Bible took place.

Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, was barren but the Lord blessed her and she had Jacob and Esau. Genesis 25:21

Jacob’s wife, Rachel, was childless. The Lord heard her prayers and she became pregnant and delivered Joseph. Genesis 30:22

Then many years late in Judges, even though we don’t know her name, it tells us she was sterile and the child she gave birth to was Samson. Judges 13:2

And remember Hannah? The Lord had closed her womb for years, but then heard her prayers and He blessed her with Samuel who was the first prophet of Israel. 1 Samuel 1:1

And then, a story we are all most familiar with because of the Gospels. We meet Elizabeth, who was “well along in years” but became pregnant with John [John the Baptist]. Luke 1:18-23

And then only six months after Elizabeth became pregnant, Mary (a virgin) was visited by an angel who told her not to be afraid that she would give birth to a child and would call Him Jesus.  Luke 1:26-35

If we add up all those miraculous births, that started right here in Genesis 21, you see we have seven miraculous births in total. Incredible isn’t it?!
1) Isaac
2) Jacob
3) Joseph
4) Samson
5) Samuel
6) John
7) Jesus

I believe that God still does things like this today, miraculous things! He puts us in situations where there is no other explanation except for His divine intervention. Situations where it couldn’t have been the doctors because even they are baffled. When things work together so perfectly, it’s clear it couldn’t have been my our power because we simply aren’t capable. What about just good luck? I don’t buy that either. Ever heard of the Law of Disorder (similar to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics)? It states that everything in our universe, when left alone or to itself, moves towards disorder. This world without God as the Master Planner wouldn’t exist. He’s in the details, cares about His children, will carry out His plan and will rule on this earth once again. He still does miraculous things!

Father, as we open your written Word and discover the intricacies it includes may it open our eyes and pry open our hearts to Your grand plan and mysteries. And as you give us a glimpse into your GLORY may it spark a fire in our hearts to seek You, know You and follow You all the days of our lives here and forever more. Amen!

 

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Genesis 20 – Here We Go Again

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Well, here we are again with Abraham trying to pass off his wife, Sarah, as his sister. It didn’t work out in Genesis 12 so why would he go that route again? Had he still not learned to trust in God for his safety and provision? Maybe he thought it would work this time. They say, “the third times the charm”, but maybe Abraham thought the second time would be. After all, Sarah was ninety years old this time around. It wasn’t strange to think no one would be interested in taking a wife that old.

From there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. Genesis 20:1-2

Initially, I was a bit bored and frustrated with this chapter and wondered why we had to rehash this same old tired story and sin again. In fact, instead of the usual few hours to read, ponder and write the blog, this one took three days. Not three solid days, but three days of reading it, being bored, uninterested and putting it off. When something like this happens, it’s good to ask ourselves why we are responding in this way. And then it hit me. . .

Maybe I didn’t like chapter 20 so much because it was frustrating to see Abraham pull out the same sin strategy again and I was reminded of how I have done this same thing. Knowing better, but moving forward with the thought, action or word anyway. It frustrates me when I fall into a pattern of sin. This chapter is convicting because as much as I was judging Abraham and thinking, “he should know better” I know I am no different or better than he was.

Like us, Abraham let fear rule in his life. He forgot all the times God had come through for him. His faith in God wavered and also his faith in mankind and the people he was going to encounter in this new territory.  I remember the lessons I had to learn over and over again because I didn’t handle them correctly by recognizing my sin, asking forgiveness from God and then tucking the lesson away in my heart. Now, I pray during and after the trial, obstacle, failure or storm for God to plant the lessons learned within my heart and mind so I never forget them and don’t have to relearn them. There are so many things I never want to have to revisit or relearn again.

But when I do forget them and I end up back in the same place I was hours, months or years earlier asking for God’s forgiveness once again and for the same thing, I get so frustrated with myself. Grace! I’m so quick to offer it to others but slow to offer it to myself.

Self-reflection can be difficult and takes work and courage to face what we are lacking and need help with. I believe that’s why I kept putting off Genesis 20. It’s amazing how scripture continues to teach, correct and rebuke.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV

I’m grateful that tucked into this study of Genesis God reminded me how important it is to:

  • find the courage and strength to lean on Him and not myself,
  • leave all sin at the foot of the cross for Christ to cover,
  • move forward striving to be a better person each time we pick ourselves up and dust off the mess we created or had to endure, and
  •  offer grace to others AND ourselves as we move closer to being the person He intended for us to be for His kingdom, glory and good work.

 

 

 

 

Genesis 19 – Hesitation

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Ok, this chapter is a little disturbing from beginning to end. From the townspeople trying to break and rape the angels, to Lot’s daughters getting him drunk so they could take advantage of him to have children. We read about things just as horrible, if not more horrific, in our news feeds every day, but I think when we read it in the Bible it seems as if it’s out-of-place and shouldn’t be included in such an important religious text. This is one of the reasons it’s easier for me to believe man didn’t write the Bible, but God did through man’s hand. Surely, they would have left out some parts, including these, if it had been up to mankind.

In the midst of these verses, a wonderful image stood out to me.

When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. (v.16)

Having to leave their home and all the knew behind so quickly must have been very unsettling, especially after the encounter with angry townspeople and knowing everyone and everything you knew were getting ready to be completely destroyed. Transitions and change can lead to hesitation or lingering. Doubt, denial, fear, and insecurity creep into our hearts and minds even when it’s our choice to make the change. However, I love the image of the angels/men grasping their hands and leading them to safety.  Are you going through a transition period?

It seems to be going around with most everyone in my family or circle of friends. Whether it’s a transition to a  school, home, job, relationship, financial challenges or family role, a transition means change and it can be difficult and strenuous emotionally, physically and spiritually. It’s much easier to linger in what we already know instead of walking into the unknown.

When faced with transition, we can react in a multitude of different ways. Much of it depends on personality, experience,  and the strength of our relationship with our Lord.

Do you draw closer to God during times of transition or farther away? I actually draw closer to Him during times of praise because my mind gets foggy in times of trial and change. I rely on intercessory prayer because my heart and mind are overwhelmed. It’s in these times I trust God knows my heart and now I also have this loving image of Him grasping my hands and leading me to safety.

We should seek Him always!  But if we’re honest, we realize that we hesitate sometimes out of fear, selfish desires, a need for control, lack of faith, etc. God desires to be in the middle of all we do, leading, guiding, grasping and loving us with each step.  However, when our lives become a hub of activity and to do lists, God is pushed out of His place (the center of our lives). He gets pushed to the back or side. It takes effort, time, devotion, trust, and grace to keep God in His rightful place in our lives, but it’s all worth it. I bet Lot would testify to that if he was sitting with us right now.

Hub is defined as “a center around which other things revolve or from which they radiate; a focus of activity, authority”.

Imagine how things would change if He was in the middle of all we do, all we think and all we say.  When we follow God, no hesitations, and no lingering in the past. What would our lives look like if we protected our time with God instead of letting it be the first thing we pushed aside when our schedule got busy? We can more readily access Him, recognize Him, follow His lead, and feel His hand reaching for us when we are in touch with Him through His written word and prayer.

May we boldly step forward grasping God’s hand as we begin each new day. Never looking back to what has passed, never lingering in the pain or sin, but without hesitation keep our eyes on the cross.

 

 

Genesis 18 – Bold

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bold
bōld/
adjective
( person, action, or idea) showing an ability to take risks; confident and courageous 
In case you are just joining us, we’re on a listening adventure through Genesis this year. Tackling one chapter each week and exploring new treasures, truths, and wisdom.

This week, it would be easy for me to sit, research and marvel at the unique visit from God and his companions to inform Abraham and Sarah of the child she would bear. But something else slapped me in the face today I as listened to Genesis 18.

As God explains to Abraham that they are headed to Sodom and Gomorrah to see if the wickedness and evil He has heard about it true, Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? (v. 22-24)

It occurred to me how bold it was for Abraham to question the Lord and defend such a wicked city. And he doesn’t stop there.

Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?” (v. 27-28)

Abraham even continued his plea and questioning in verses 31 and 32.  Now, that’s bold! I wonder if Abraham was wondering to himself just how far he could take this conversation with the Creator of all things? Or if he thought he should just take the amazing blessing (a promised child) God had just shared with him and shut up? It made me consider our lives today and how social media is used to spread hate, horrible language, and offensive images. I have said to my own children, “If you wouldn’t say it to the person’s face or in front of me,  then don’t post it!” We have removed the personal level and taken the heart out of people. When you don’t have to see the reaction of heartbreak or embarrassment it’s a lot easier to throw out mean or hurtful words.

Truth, controversy, love and the sharing of differing opinions are always tougher face-to-face. Worth it, but much harder. However, here was Abraham face-to-face with God sharing his bold desires and prayer for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. How many of us won’t even pray bold prayers or have bold conversations with our Heavenly Father because we are fearful? And what is it we are afraid of? Is it His anger, that He might turn us down, that He might take away a blessing, that we don’t want to get our hopes up, that our faith might not hold tight or that we don’t’ deserve it?

I’ve faced all of those fears in my prayer life and walk with God, but when they try to creep in, we have to boldly take hold of this truth: God loves us! He can handle the bold conversations and prayers! His plan is perfect! We are forgiven and treasured! No wonder the Bible reminds us over and over again to “Fear Not!” God knew how Satan and his demons would use our fear to hinder our relationship with Christ and mute our faith.  God knew we would need His loving reminders to overcome it and keep our eyes on Him.

My prayer is that we will all be as bold as Abraham with our love. Bold to believe, bold in hope and bold in faith. That’s a world where I see prayers starting to shift the evil and crooked patterns of this world. That’s a world where I can imagine so much more happiness, love, and contentment for all of God’s people.