Genesis 13 – No Strings Attached

Standard

Related image

Then Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.” Genesis 13:8-9

This week we find Abram and Lot at a crossroads. They are both so rich in gold and livestock, they discover they can’t dwell among one another anymore. There just isn’t enough room for both of them. We see many businesses in the past and present who are founded by two individuals, but there comes a time when there isn’t room for both and one leaves or starts a new business. I think Abram and Lot were in this same situation. They weren’t fighting over money or patents, but land and resources. Here’s what caught my attention.

Abram basically says to Lot, “You know what? This just isn’t working. We are close relatives (kinsmen) and this division is putting a strain on our relationship. Why don’t you pick whatever land you want and I’ll take what you don’t pick.” This is extremely generous. Very rarely do my daughter and son every offer the other the first slice of cake or turn with a new toy unless there is an ulterior motive. I pray they will get there with age and maturity, but we have some work to do. Abram freely offers Lot to take whatever he wants with no strings attached and then doesn’t even pit a fit or complain. He doesn’t need to win, be the best, have the best, or even have the last word. He just wants peace and resolution.

I wonder how Abram pulled that off? Was he so strong in his faith that he knew whatever Lot chose God was going to make sure he got all he needed? Was he just at the end of his rope and threw up his hands in desperation and exhaustion from the conflict? Maybe a bit of both. Either way, I love that faith of his. No matter how many times Abram messes up, and we have and will see more of that, he returns back to God for forgiveness and redemption.

This little portion of Genesis 13 makes me ponder a few things. One, am I the one who always have to have the last word in a conversation or disagreement? Why am I like that? Why can’t I just sit, listen and trust God to do His thing? Do I have a strong desire to always win? Where does that come from? Why can’t I just trust that my view of winning and losing isn’t what God’s looks like and His way is always best? Do I need to be the best or have the best things in my life? Why is that important to me? What idols (anything I think about more than God) am I clinging to?

These questions are very convicting for me this week. I needed this lesson from Abram. I pray we all will continue to develop a humble trust in our Lord’s plan and a desire to seek peace and resolution with grateful hearts and no strings attached.

 

Advertisements

Genesis 12 – Flawed BUT Blessed

Standard

Related image

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.

Genesis 11 – Communication Error

Standard

Image result for picture of communication error

“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

Standard

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

Standard

Image result for picture of noah's ark

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.

Genesis 8 – So He Thought

Standard

Related image

There are so many things that crossed my mind this week as I read Chapter 8 of Genesis. Should I sit and study the significance of all the numbers mentioned in these verses(7, 150, 27, etc.)?  What about how Noah felt when the boat finally hit solid ground or when they stepped off the ark for the first time after all those months? And then there are those first few words of the chapter, “But God remembered Noah” that struck my heart. It’s amazing how many rabbit holes one can explore in just one chapter of scripture.

Even with all of those great topics and questions, I didn’t choose any of them. Instead, I chose verse 21 to meditate on.

When the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, He said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, even though man’s inclination is evil from his youth. And I will never again strike down every living thing as I have done. Genesis 8:21

It’s incredible to consider that because of man’s actions, God destroyed “every” living thing on earth except for those on the ark. The neighborhood dogs, farm sheep, and donkeys certainly weren’t worshipping idols and living sinful lives of adultery, thievery, and lies. They suffered due to the actions of man (and woman). As much as that tugged at my heart, it was these three words, “He said to Himself” (Genesis 8:21, HCSB) that drew me in.

In other translations, it says God,  “thought to himself” (MSG) and “said in his heart” (KJV & ESV).  These are the thoughts that flooded into my heart.

First, I think or speak to myself often. When I studying, cooking, folding clothes, or in an unusual situation I’ve got all kinds of thoughts rolling around in my head. It’s a common, ordinary and human thing to do. Now, God is FAR from human, but I love to see this quality in our Creator. He did, after all, create us in His image. These few words give me an image of God that I can relate to and understand. With so many things we don’t and can’t understand in this world, it’s these small glimpses of God in us that draw me closer to Him.

Second, I adore how God was sure to include all we needed in the Bible. Even his thoughts. The words He spoke to His own heart. Some might argue that there isn’t a way we could be sure God really thought such a thing and dispute the Bible. I don’t argue that point at all. Why would our God, who allowed His Son to die for each of us on the cross so we could have eternal life, let that be tainted or ruined by allowing false statements into His written Word? I don’t think He would. Even as a mom, if something happens and my child is misrepresented or misunderstood I have a strong desire to clear the air and clarify things.

There is only one God, but He created us in His great image. So, even though we aren’t God’s, we have bits and pieces of God’s qualities and ways just as our own children do. After all, He is our Father in Heaven and we are all His children. Keep an eye out for other small traits or ways that show we are created in God’s image as we continue to study through Genesis.

I would love to hear how your journey through Genesis is going and how “listening” has improved, changed or challenge you in your Bible study.

 

 

 

Genesis 7 – Trapdoors

Standard

Image result for picture of a secret door

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.  Genesis 7:11-12

It’s interesting how something new can catch your eye in scripture. Today, it was the phrase, “windows of the heavens” that brought a clear and wonderful vision in my mind. There is something extraordinary about imagining my forever home and the home of my Father and King. I adore the image of God flinging up the windows of Heaven and throwing out His blessing upon us, so I wanted to explore more about this imagery and see if I could find it anywhere else in scripture.

In Genesis when the windows of the heavens open, the pouring rains are released. In Isaiah 24, the open windows of Heaven bring trembling to the Earth, in Malachi 3 we read if the windows of Heaven aren’t opened, blessings won’t be received. In 2 Kings 7, the windows of Heaven open to end a famine. The Message translation calls these windows of Heaven, “Trapdoors opening in the sky.”

As a child, it was secret small spaces and trap doors to the attic that intrigued me. Even my own children seek out these tiny hidden trapdoors and nooks in our home and yard to escape and set up covert camps. Just as we seek and crave these tiny spaces of secret and safety as children, God created us to seek and crave Him from deep in our hearts.

It’s a small space (a trapdoor) created within our hearts from the time of our conception that can only be filled and secured by the Creator. Our Father, King, and Savior. Just as the heavens can open to receive Him, so our hearts can too.

The definition of a trap door is “a door in a floor or ceiling that lead to another, often hidden room.” There is a trick to this trap door of the heart though. God won’t open it. He will knock and knock at it, but we have to be the one to open up. He will seek us, love us in the wait and never give up on us. The beauty of this is that once we open up the trap door to our heart, God will enter into that hidden place that He created in us. The space that only He can fill. He will complete us. His radiant light will restore, heal, and repair us from the inside out and shine from within us forever more.

Today, my prayer is that if you haven’t opened up the trap door in your heart to the saving grace of our Heavenly Father that you would allow Him in. Dust off the cobwebs and pull open the door. It may have been closed so long that it’s a little stuck and squeaky, but you can do it and God will help you. May your heart open to His peace, joy, love, and hope. You are loved!