Monday, December 1, 2014

Beer Lahai Roi - Genesis 16

Back in the time of Genesis, names meant something. When you named your baby son or daughter, that name told a story. But, it wasn’t just red-faced newborns that received names. In this chapter, a well was being named. That's right: bucket, crank, rope, the whole works. Hagar even named God and from that a well was named – Beer Lahai Roi. No, the name didn’t come from her brother’s favorite drink, nor was it from Trigger's cowboy-rider. The name means “well of the living one who sees me."

Did you know that the same Living One who was Hagar’s God is your God, too? The God who saw her in the desert is the same God who sees you in yours. What has taken you to the desert may not be the same thing that drove Hagar there. For her it had been the pregnancy, lack of love, and mistreatment. You may be in the desert because of those things or maybe it is something else. You might feel alone out there because of problems at work, marital conflicts, struggles with your family, no sense of belonging . . . anything. Either way, you are alone. Or are you? Hagar thought she was, but she thought wrong. God saw her, spoke to her, and saved her. Be mindful of the Living One Who Sees. He sees you in your desert (just think about it), he’s speaking to you (just listen to him), and he's saved you (just remember that).

When it all seems to be coming down around you, take a trip. Take a trip to a well named Beer Lahai Roi. The place of refuge is still there (vs 14) even if the well itself isn’t.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Unbelievable Promises - Genesis 15

The old man could not believe it. Abram was closing in on being a century old, and God made him a promise – an unbelievable promise. God told childless Abram to find his old ball glove because he would need it to teach his boy to play third base. God directed the husband of a barren wife to clear out the study and make room for a baby crib. “This is unbelievable,” Abram said. “Believe it because it's true,” God replied with a smile.

Once all of the details were laid out, God said it was time to make a covenant. He wanted it written in blood so that Abram would know that he meant business. So, Abram followed God’s commands and the agreement was made.

God has made another unbelievable promise. He's promised time-worn sinners like us life with him! Unbelievable! The imperfect in the same dwelling as the Perfect. It is unbelievable because it just does not add up. It is a promise because God said it.

How can we, like Abram, believe something so staggering? Because of a bloody covenant. No animals this time, but a son. No animal was good enough to be a part of this agreement. Only God himself could provide the necessary element. And so it was done on a hill called Golgotha. Jesus followed God's commands and the agreement was made.

Take a look again at the first four words in verse 6. Do you?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Let’s Fight! - Genesis 14

The last time Abram saw Lot was when Lot turned to take his part of the land. Abram had done a lot for his nephew, but quite frankly, he hadn’t gotten any letters from him lately. Then word came: “Lot’s . . . (panting) been . . . taken . . . (sweating) prisoner, mister!,” the man struggled to say. “I’ve just come . . . from Sodom and . . . they almost . . . had me, too,” his voice trails off.

So Abram thanks him, turns the mute off of the TV and continues watching “The Ten Commandments.” Is that what we read? No way! Abram, make that four-star General Abram, calls 318 guys to attention and lays out the battle plan. Under the cover of darkness these Green Berets not only win, the text says they “routed” their opponents. Yes! And all of that just to get his nephew and his nephew’s stuff back. Go Abram!

But, then I lower my raised fist of triumph because I am humbled. I am humbled because I ask myself if I would do what Abram did. Would I go to war to save a family member who had been captured? Would I fight to get back my nephew, my aunt, or my mother-in-law? You bet I would. That is not what humbled me. Would I, would you, go to war to save a spiritual family member who has been captured? How about when a spiritual brother or sister quits writing like Lot did? In other words, they just do not attend and communicate with the church family anymore. How about when somebody runs in and says a brother or sister has been captured? They have been captured by their job, tied up by complacency, or put in a prison by hurtful words. Do we fight? Let’s examine the battle plan and the rewards.

The battle plan Abram used makes sense: do it in numbers. Let’s ALL make sure that our captured family knows we need them. One or two may get the job done, but they, too, may get captured. If we all take part, though, we can rout the enemy. Let’s be called to attention and start making visits, praying, sending notes of encouragement . . . anything to save the prisoners. The rewards? We will all be together (vs 16), we’ll be blessed by God (vs 18), and God will be praised (vs 20). Let’s fight!

Monday, November 3, 2014

2 People, 2 Tents, & You - Genesis 13

To people in the Genesis era, their tent was home. It may have been said, “A tent is where my heart is” and “There’s no place like my tent.” In the eighteen verses of Genesis 13, we read of two people and their tents.

The first one is Abram and his tent. Where his tent was, God was. Abram made sure of that. Right there in Hebron, he built an altar to the Lord. His home was a place God could be found. Is your home a place where God can be found? Is he there as permanently as the altar in Abram's front yard? Or, is God only there when the right guests are in the house? Maybe he's only there on Sunday morning.

Then, there’s Lot's tent. Right up next to Sodom. And we know about Sodom. What does it matter that he staked his home there? Notice verse 11: he chose the whole plain of the Jordan. This guy had the whole county. He could be anywhere he wanted in that expanse, and he chose to set camp by Sodom! Again, what about your house? Are you setting up house on the edge? No, not location-wise. Is your home a place that fosters “wickedness and great sinning”? Does your home tolerate, even invite, this type of living?

Is your tent pitched with Abram at Hebron or with Lot at Sodom? Does your home offer up praise to God or is it about Sodom-living? Maybe the following chart will help you decide and, if necessary, help you move your tent:

Sodom or Hebron?

· Conversations and language (Gossip or praise?)

· T.V. shows (Is that content-warning just for kids?)

· Bibles (Dusty or worn?)

· Praying (Seldom or continuous?)

· Books and magazines (Would God read it?)

· Calendar (How are Sundays filled in?)

· Devotional time (“What’s that?” or “Amen!”)

· Hobbies (Self-building or self-consuming?)

· Other family members (Ignored or exalted?)

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Change of Address – Genesis 12

You may have an idea how Abram felt. You had to pack up your stuff, load the family, and leave home for good. For Abram, it was Haran that he left behind. For you, it’s been Texas, California, Kentucky, or other places that have been left behind. Places that, like Abram, you called “home.”

My question for you is, “Does God asks us to leave home today?” No, I'm not referring to a job transfer, although it could be that. And no, I don’t mean moving back to where you and your husband grew up. I'm talking about when God asks you to leave the familiar and journey to the unknown. I believe God does ask us to leave home today. Leaving the known for the unknown at God's command means different things to all of us. It may mean an actual move, a career change, teaching a new class, talking to a person, or anything that moves us to the uncomfortable and unfamiliar.

What happens when we get up and go? Look at what God promised Abram in verses 2-3. Did God keep those promises? To the letter. And he'll do the same for you. His promises to you are found throughout 66 different pieces of writing – the Bible. He offers you hope, courage, strength, endurance, rest and that’s before you even get past Genesis chapter 12! Above all, if you will get up and set out, God will get you there (vs 5).

We must all listen for God and see where he wants us to go. It may be next door, it may be across town, or it may be a trip to look inside yourself. You may hear God in your quiet time, at communion time, or he may ask you through someone else. But once you hear him say, “Leave and go to the land I’ll show you,” will you go?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

High or Low? - Genesis 11

In this chapter, the author lays out for us some of the early events in the area of Babylon. In doing this he leaves us with a record of two opposing lifestyles. Let’s look at them and then look in the mirror. Mentioned first are the people on the Shinar Plain. You want to see an industrious group, just look at them! While everyone else in construction was using stones and cement, they had upgraded to bricks and tar. Not only was their city well built, it looked pretty sharp as well. Nice, smooth walls and subtle, earthy hues. So unlike their neighbors who still built with rocks, yuck! But they wanted more. They wanted to make a real name for themselves. They wanted Shinar on the map. And you read exactly what they did: they put up a brick version of the Empire State Building.

Second, we read about Terah. Who? You got it. If you aren’t careful you just cruise right on by him. But his story is worth noting. Terah had some sons, grandkids, and daughters-in-law. We don't know why, maybe it was that local skyscraper, but he decided to leave his hometown. He decided to literally pull up his tent stakes and get on the road. Did he sneak out quietly at night, so he wouldn’t be missed until morning? Did he hightail it alone, so as not to be burdened? No, look who went with him: his grandson, his son and his daughter-in-law. Terah took these three under his wing. The record doesn’t say he drug them out of town and forced them live somewhere else. It says they went together to Haran and they settled there.

In Genesis 11 we read of two different ways to live. There are two different ways to direct our attention. We can live like the people on the plain where everything we do is to bring the focus back to us. We want the glory, honor, and praise all for ourselves. We want our name on the map and we'll set our sights high to get it there too. Me, my, I, and myself are our favorite words.

Or, we can choose to live like Terah. Like him, we focus our attention on others. We choose to sacrifice so that others will be all right. We allow ourselves to leave the familiar and comfortable to make sure someone else is taken care of. We realize we are not a one-man- or one-woman-show and that life is not a stage. We work together and we settle down together. The choice is ours. But it is worth mentioning the outcome of our two examples. Those who tried to be their own hero fell from the heights. From the family of the one who took the lowly position would later come the Hero.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Small Beginnings - Genesis 10

It’s been several years back now, but I do remember it was a Wednesday night before Bible class. A friend of ours asked if my wife and I wanted any hen-'n-chickens. “Sure,” my wife replied, “just a couple.” A week later, we were the adoptive parents of a grocery bag full of the succulents. We emptied the bag, planted the big fellows and left them to do what they do best – reproduce. It wasn’t long before we had fourteen “babies” on just one plant. The others were seemingly jealous and quickly tried to outdo the leader.

Genesis 9 records God emptying, not a bag of plants, but a boat of people. More specifically, chapter 10 tells of three of those guys (and obviously their wives). God told them right off to do what they do best – reproduce. The rest of the chapter tells of the beginning of the repopulating of the earth. From six people, we are left with a list of over fifty people! And at last count, there are now over seven billion people on the earth!

Let’s allow Genesis chapter 10 to be a reminder for us. This list of names can establish a great truth in our hearts. That truth? God can do big things with small things. Simple isn't it? Jesus told the same truth using a mustard seed. How can you use this truth? Remember it when:

· You feel like your act of kindness will go unnoticed.

· You think about the Great Commission, but don't know how to take it all on.

· You take a stand against something wrong at work.

· You can only give three dollars to that cause.

· Your nasty neighbor asks to borrow your ladder.

· You send a short note of encouragement to that person who needs it.

· You pray for that far-away missionary.

You can be assured that God can do big things with small things. So start doing the small things now, and who knows? Maybe some Wednesday night you will have a bag full of blessings.