Monday, January 23, 2017

Isaac and Rebekah: Jacob and Esau

20 Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan Aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian. 21 Now Isaac pleaded with the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If all is well, why am I like this?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.

23 And the Lord said to her:

“Two nations are in your womb,
Two peoples shall be separated from your body;
One people shall be stronger than the other,
And the older shall serve the younger.”

24 So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb. 25 And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau. 26 Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

27 So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents. 28 And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
Genesis 25:20-28, NKJV

Isaac and Rebekah: Jacob and Esau

As we continue with our series of devotions on the Bible Couple, Isaac and Rebekah, we find that 20 years has gone by since their marriage. Like his mother, Sarah, Isaac's wife Rebekah is barren. Isaac plead to God on behalf of Rebekah and God answered his prayers by sending them twins. We are told that the children struggled together within her womb. In her concern, Rebekah went to inquire of the Lord. The Lord responded that two nations were in her womb, and the older would serve the younger. 

Indeed, when the twins were born they were opposites in their personalities. Esau became a skillful hunter and a man of the field, but Isaac was a mind man, dwelling in tents. We are told that Isaac preferred his son, Esau, but Rebekah's favorite was Jacob.

As often happens in such situations, it is easy, though perhaps not too wise, to develop favorites. Doing so can often lead to contentions between the parents. However, regardless of the plans or feelings of the parents, God has specific plans for the two boys. Providentially, not only would the older, Esau, serve the younger, Jacob, but God would choose Jacob to be the head of a nation later to become known by Jacob's other name: Israel. Esau would become the head of a nation as well, but it was a nation that would serve other gods.

The most important lesson for us to learn from the story of Isaac and Rebekah, especially concerning their sons, is that we cannot supplant the will of God. Even before the twins were born, God had chosen to continue with the line of Jacob in His plan of having a nation which would love and serve Him. Both parents became involved in the struggle between their sons, but God's will was done.

Rebekah's involvement in the struggle between the boys cost her dearly. When Isaac called Esau in to give him his final blessing, Rebekah overheard their conversation. Working with Jacob to deceive Esau and therefore steal his father's blessing, Jacob had to flee for his life. Though he returned years later, it was not until after the death of Rebekah. So, though Jacob and Rebekah succeeded in their plans, they never saw one another again.

What do you think? If God had already determined before the twins were born that He would continue His nation through Jacob, was it really necessary for Rebekah and Jacob to use deceit to accomplish this very thing.

That is a very interesting question? Does God need our deceitfulness to accomplish His holy will? No! God uses men and women to accomplish His holy purposes, but He is not part of their sinful deeds. His will is always accomplished, but He is not responsible for our sin in the process.

In other words, God's holy will was accomplished, but that did not excuse the deceit practiced by Rebekah and Jacob. And, of course, they both paid dearly by their separation that resulted from their actions.

We will be leaving Isaac and Rebekah now and will continue our next devotional with the Bible Couple, Jacob and Rachel--or should I say, Jacob and Leah. HMM, now that is an interesting question is it not?

As we leave Isaac and Rebekah, let us be reminded that, by God's grace, we need to seek to be obedient to His holy will. Let us not be tempted to use our sinful natures as a means of being obedient to God. We serve a wondrous and holy God; by His grace let us find joy and peace in our service to Him.

God Bless You,

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Isaac and Rebekah: Response of Isaac

62 Now Isaac came from the way of Beer Lahai Roi, for he dwelt in the South. 63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field in the evening; and he lifted his eyes and looked, and there, the camels were coming. 64 Then Rebekah lifted her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she dismounted from her camel; 65 for she had said to the servant, “Who is this man walking in the field to meet us?”
The servant said, “It is my master.” So she took a veil and covered herself.
66 And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. 67 Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent; and he took Rebekah and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.
Genesis 24:62-67, NKJV

Isaac and Rebekah: The Response of Isaac

It has been a long and arduous journey for Rebekah. Leaving her family and the only home she has ever known, she is about to meet her future husband for the first time. Just imagine being engaged to a man you have never even met. Not only have you not met him, you have not even corresponded with him. As a matter of fact, Rebekah probably did not even know of the existence of her cousin, Isaac, until Abraham's servant came to the land of Mesopotamia.

All of that is about to change. Looking ahead, Rebekah saw Isaac walking toward them. The servant confirmed that this was Isaac, her future husband. The next few verses are almost a letdown. There was no great pomp and no great ceremony. The Bible just says:

And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and he took Rebekah and she became his wife, and he loved her.

Genesis 24 ends with this verse. So Isaac was comforted after his mother's death.

We are not done with the story of Isaac and Rebekah, however. There is much yet that we have to learn from them.

So much of Isaac and Rebekah's story is left out. How did Rebekah respond? What did she think of Isaac? What was their relationship like? God has not chosen to answer these questions. We do learn a little of their relationship in the succeeding chapters of Genesis, but much is never revealed.

In our next devotion, we will learn about the children God grants to Isaac and Rebekah. Their story will take us through several chapters of the book of Genesis. 

Though this may seem anti-climatic to us, God has revealed only what is important for us to understand. We know that God, from the beginning of the world, purposed their life together. Much of what we may commonly refer to as chance is not really chance at all. This is probably one of the most remarkable illustrations of that truth.

Two people who were not even aware of one another's existence are brought together by the working of God among seemingly insignificant events. When Rebekah trudged to the well that day to get water, she had no idea that her life was about to change forever. 

As we live through the common and insignificant events of each day, let us remember that God walks every step with us. He orders events that seem like only chance to us, but these events are used by the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us in the way we are to go. 

What comfort to know that we have a God who is intimately involved in our lives. 

He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own.
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known!

God Bless You,

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Isaac and Rebekah: Who is Rebekah?

55 But her brother and her mother said, “Let the young woman stay with us a few days, at least ten; after that she may go.”
56 And he said to them, “Do not hinder me, since the Lord has prospered my way; send me away so that I may go to my master.”
57 So they said, “We will call the young woman and ask her personally.” 58 Then they called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?”
And she said, “I will go.”
59 So they sent away Rebekah their sister and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant and his men. 60 And they blessed Rebekah and said to her:
“Our sister, may you become
The mother of thousands of ten thousands;
And may your descendants possess
The gates of those who hate them.”
61 Then Rebekah and her maids arose, and they rode on the camels and followed the man. So the servant took Rebekah and departed.
Genesis 24:55-61, NKJV

Isaac and Rebekah: Who is Rebekah?

Who is Rebekah? In this beautiful chapter we are introduced to Rebekah. 

We learned in our previous devotion that Abraham tasked his oldest servant with the duty of finding a wife for his son, Isaac. The servant, in obedience to his master, went to Nahor, the city of Abraham's  relatives. The servant then prayed that God would shows him the appropriate woman, by having her come to well and offer to give he and his camels drink. Before the servant had even finished praying, God brought Rebekah to the well.

Rebekah would never have been chosen as a bride by the popular movie writers of our day. She does not have the spunky and spit-fire personality of the popular movie heroines of our day. We are given a beautiful look at her character when she went down to the well to draw water. When the servant approached her and asked her to give him a drink, she responded in Genesis 24:46:

46 And she made haste and let her pitcher down from her shoulder, and said, ‘Drink, and I will give your camels a drink also.’ 

 Upon questioning her, Rebekah introduced herself as the daughter of Bethuel, Nahor's son, and his wife Milcah. Who was Nahor? We are first introduced to Nahor in Genesis 11:21.

This is the genealogy of Terah: Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran. 

So, Terah, the grandfather of Rebekah was Abram's brother. Rebekah was Abraham's great niece, making her Isaac's cousin. God had led Abraham's servant not only to the house of his relatives, but to the house of his brother.  

So, we have learned that Rebekah was a close relative of Issac. We also note that she was humble and obedient (as we saw in the illustration of her response to Abram's servant) and that she was very beautiful (verse 16: Now the young woman was very beautiful to behold).

Rebekah is certainly a relative of Abraham, as Abraham desired, and she did exactly what the servant had asked God when she was at the well. But, would she be willing to go with the servant, a total stranger to her, to a foreign land and marry a cousin she had never met?

The servant lodged with Nahor that night, but when the morning came he was ready to take Rebekah and return to the land of Canaan. Rebekah's mother and father immediately objected.  “Let the young woman stay with us a few days, at least ten; after that she may go.”

The servant plead with them to not hinder his journey, seeing that the Lord had so quickly answered his prayer.  How did Nahor and Milcah respond? The answer is given in verses 57 and 58.

57 So they said, “We will call the young woman and ask her personally.” 58 Then they called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?”
And she said, “I will go.”

And she said, "I will go." What an amazing woman. In one day, her life was changed forever. 

Of course, there is more to this story of Isaac and Rebekah. In our next devotion we will discover the reaction of Isaac when he met the woman, Rebekah.

Who is Rebekah? Rebekah was a beautiful young woman who was not afraid to follow God into a new country and marry a man of God's choosing whom she had never met.  

What does God require of us this day? When we look at the kind and submissive character of Rebekah we should ask ourselves, "Do I show the same kind and submissive character to God today?" 

We have the completed Word of God. Unlike Rebekah, we can read and understand who this God is that we serve. We also know that Christ has come to this earth and has given His perfect, righteous, life to save a people for God. Are we numbered in that people? Do we know this Lord Jesus Christ who humbled Himself and left heaven's glory to walk on this earth among a people who largely rejected Him? We, too, have the choice, by the grace of God, of accepting Him as our own personal Lord and Savior.

What an amazing God we serve. Just as we see Him as He worked in the lives of Isaac and Rebekah, so He lives and guides us, His people, this day. Nothing that God has ordained will fail to come to pass. Just as He has ordained, Christ will return again. All people will then fall before Him and praise and honor Him. Though it will be too late for some, they will recognize Him and bow before Him as the King of Kings, and Lords of Lords.

Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!

God Bless You,

Friday, January 20, 2017

Isaac and Rebekah: A Bride for Isaac

1 Now Abraham was old, well advanced in age; and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. So Abraham said to the oldest servant of his house, who ruled over all that he had, “Please, put your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell; but you shall go to my country and to my family, and take a wife for my son Isaac.”
Genesis 24:1-4, NKJV

Isaac and Rebekah: A Bride for Isaac

As we return to the subject of Bible Couples, we are going to spend a few devotions discussing Isaac and Rebekah. In the previous chapter of Genesis, we are given the details of Sarah's death and burial. We are told that she lived to be 127 years old. Isaac was born when Sarah was 90, so that would make Isaac about 37. Though his brother Ishmael had already married, Isaac had not.

Abraham, tasked with the duty of finding a wife for his son, gave the charge shown above to his oldest servant who ruled over all that Abraham had. Most of us do not live in a land or time of arranged marriages, but this custom was quite common in Isaac's day. We find in Abraham's charge to his servant that Isaac was not involved in the selection process.

Being a Godly man, Abraham desired a bride for Isaac from among his relatives in Mesopotamia. Genesis 24 is a beautiful story of how God answered Abraham's prayer for a son for Isaac. 

The servant of Abraham went to the city of Nahor in Mesopotamia. He, too, worshiped the Lord God. Verses 12 through 14 give us the account of his prayer to God:

12 Then he said, “O Lord God of my master Abraham, please give me success this day, and show kindness to my master Abraham. 13 Behold, here I stand by the well of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. 14 Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, ‘Please let down your pitcher that I may drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink’—let her be the one You have appointed for Your servant Isaac. And by this I will know that You have shown kindness to my master.”

Notice that the servant was not afraid to pray specifically to God. Not only did He ask God to show him the right woman, he even gave the details to God as to how he wished God to answer him. Was the servant being too presumptuous? Is it appropriate for us to be so bold before the Lord God?

In answer to the servant's prayer, we find that God followed every single detail given by the servant to show Him the wife He had for Isaac. As a matter of fact, we are told that before the servant even finished speaking to God, Rebekah appeared.

Who was Rebekah? Look at how she is described in verses 15 and 16.

Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, came out with her pitcher on her shoulder. 16 Now the young woman was very beautiful to behold, a virgin; no man had known her.

Don't you love how the Bible notes, "Now the young woman was very beautiful to behold." God not only answered the servant's prayer, he brought a very beautiful young woman to the well. Does God care about such things as beauty?

Truthfully, God does care about beauty--a beautiful and submissive inner spirit. In other words, God desires that we are beautiful before Him in the depths of our heart of hearts. 

How do we know that Rebekah also had this inner beauty? That is a story for our next devotion. It is enough for us to know at this point that God answered the servant's prayer in a most wonderful way. What was the servant's response to God?

26 Then the man bowed down his head and worshiped the Lord. 27 And he said, “Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His mercy and His truth toward my master. As for me, being on the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master’s brethren.”

What lessons can we take away from this story today? We worship the same God. While it is true that we have the completed Word of God to guide and direct us in the way we should go, let us not be afraid to ask God for specifics. It is God who has saved us through the blood of His dear Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is this same God who will guide and direct us all of the days of our lives on this earth through the power of His Holy Spirit who dwells within us.

Let us, like the servant of Abraham, praise and worship this wondrous God who did not forsake Abraham and who shows the same mercy and truth to us, His servants, this day.

Go, then, in the strength and power of God this day!

God Bless You,



Thursday, January 19, 2017

Parable of the Dragnet

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, 48 which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, 50 and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
51 Jesus said to them, “Have you understood all these things?”
They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.”
52 Then He said to them, “Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”
Matthew 13:47-52, NKJV

Parable of the Dragnet

As Jesus continued speaking with the disciples, he again used a very common illustration in this parable to teach them a profound and sobering Biblical truth.  Several of the disciples were fishermen so they certainly understood the concept of casting out a net into the sea and dragging in fish. Were fish the only thing caught in their nets? No, often other debris or unwanted fish were also caught in the net. The contents of the net were spilled into the boat where the fishermen quickly separated the good fish from the unwanted fish and other debris.

Jesus told the disciples that the angels, like the fishermen, would have the job of separating the wicked from among the just at the end of the age.

Three things come to mind to me as I think of this parable. First, we are reminded that God does not separate the wicked from the just right now--that will not happen until the end of the age. Second, the job of separating the wicked from the just has not been given to us. Thirdly, the time will come when God will separate the wicked and the just. Only the true believers will be ushered into heaven to live with Christ forever.

As believers, God has given to us the task of living among the people of this world. Even in the church, though all may profess to believe, often there are those who are worshiping with the true believers who do not actually have faith in Christ. Why does God allow this? God commands that we separate from the world in our thinking and in the goals we have for this life. No longer should we, as believers, be consumed by the things of this world, but rather, we should be seeking to learn more and more about Christ. By God's grace, we should be seeking the things above--the things of heaven--rather than the things of this earth. But, we are left to live among the people of this world that we might be a testimony to them of God's working in our hearts and lives.

Second, as we consider our task while on this earth, it is not our job to separate the wicked from the just. Because we do not know the heart of man, that would be an impossible task for us. Only God knows our hearts, and therefore, only God, through His angels, can correctly separate the righteous from the wicked. Let us, then, pray for our friends, neighbors, and relatives that Christ would be known to them, but let us not be overly consumed with the goal of trying to identify God's true people from those who truly do not love Him. 

May we remember the third teaching from this parable. Christ will return, time will end, and the righteous and wicked will be separated forever. God, who alone can look on the true heart of man, will righteously separate the wicked for punishment, and the righteous will live with Him forever. Let us not take the long-suffering of Christ as an excuse to believe that Christ will not actually return. He will, indeed, return, and when He does, time will cease forever.

These are sobering thoughts. What profound truths Jesus taught to His disciples by using such simple illustrations as in the parable of the dragnet. May we, in this the 21st century, take these same parables to heart and apply their truths to our hearts and lives today.

We may pretend that we are true believers and deceive our fellow man, but Christ knows our heart of hearts. May our hearts be pure before Him. Only Christ can take a heart of stone and turn it into a heart of flesh. Let us turn to Him today so that at the end of the age He will say to us, "Welcome, my good and faithful servant."

God Bless You,

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Pearl of Great Price

45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
Matthew 13:45-46, NKJV

Pearl of Great Price

Jesus told parables or stories to help the disciples understand some great spiritual truths. Such is the case in this story of a merchant who sought beautiful pearls. One day, he found it--the most beautiful pearl he had ever seen. He sold everything he had just so he might buy this beautiful pearl which was actually priceless to him.

What truth was Jesus trying to teach to His disciples? The disciples were not scholars--they were common people with common occupations. Just as we are often consumed in our day with discovering that one thing that will set us apart from every other person--that one thing that will bring to us unlimited riches, so were the people of Jesus' day.

We joke about winning the lottery, but how many of us in our heart of hearts really believe that winning the lottery will bring us untold happiness and joy? Imagine that--no debts and more money than we can possibly earn in a lifetime.

Jesus knew the hearts of the people. Was He really saying to them that their happiness as well would be untold if they found that great pearl that was priceless? No! Jesus was saying this, "Imagine that merchant who buys and sells pearls. One day, the merchant found the most beautiful pearl--priceless. He was so overcome with surprise and joy that he sold everything he had to obtain it. That man," Christ continued, "Is like the one who finds the kingdom of heaven."

Now Jesus had their attention. How could that be? How could the kingdom of heaven be like that priceless pearl? Jesus was using a simple illustration to teach to them the true value of heaven. 

How many of us are like those people--spending our lives searching for that great thing that will make us rich and famous? Is that really the true secret of happiness and joy? No! Jesus was showing that nothing on this earth can compare to the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, let us not, as the people of this world, set our affections on the things of this world. 

True joy only comes from Christ and is not dependent upon our circumstances. In Christ, we have more than anything this world can offer, for in Him our sins are forgiven and we have an eternal life with God. In Christ, we have the kingdom of heaven.

May we, as believers, reach out to Christ to provide everything we need for joy and peace. And, when we reach the end of our days on this earth, may we find our coffers to be filled with heavenly treasure. Nothing else will matter!

May you, this day find the pearl of great price: the kingdom of heaven.

God Bless You,

Tiime to Begin Again!

After a period of over 3 months, I think it is time to being again. I apologize for the lengthy period of no new devotions, but it has been a difficult time of seemingly one illness after another. I would like to continue with the series I began on the Parables of Jesus. After that, I would like to renew my series on Bible Couples. With that in mind, please let me know if there are specific Bible couples you would like to read about.

Thanks for your continued support.

God Bless You,

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Parable of the Hidden Treasure

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Matthew 13:44, NKJV

Parable of the Hidden Treasure

Jesus continues His exhortation in Matthew 13 with two very similar parables which express the value of the kingdom of heaven.

Money! We all understand the value of money, do we not? Our world is consumed with the gathering of riches. Could there be, however, something of more value than money? That was exactly the point that Jesus was making in this parable.

Again, Jesus is telling a story that would be familiar to the common people. Don't we all like to hear stories of buried treasure? The very nature of buried treasure is that it is a surprise. This is not something for which we worked for years and years, but rather it is something we found quite unexpectedly. 

If a person finds buried treasure in a field, what does he do? First, he does not tell anyone. Second, he takes all of the money that he has and goes and buys that field, for now, he is the owner of that treasure. Now that is a great story with a perfect ending!

Jesus is telling the common people that that is what the kingdom of heaven is like. Rather than spend all of our lives seeking things of this earth, we need to spend all of our life seeking the things of eternity. The kingdom of heaven, according to Jesus, is greater than all of the riches found on this earth.

Do we, as believers, believe that? Are we spending our lives in service of the King of Kings, no matter what our particular occupation may be, or are we spending our lives trying to amass a great fortune? Unfortunately, even as believers, it is easy for us to get caught up in the wine of this world. We are often much more concerned about how others view us, keeping up with our neighbors, and planning for a great and plentiful retirement. We are less concerned about growing in our knowledge of the Lord, reading our Bibles, fellowshipping with God in prayer, and telling others about Christ.

Is the kingdom of God like a buried treasure to us? If not, let us find ourselves on our knees seeking the Lord Jesus Christ. These fleeting years will soon be past, and then all of us will stand before God Himself. What will He say to us? Will He say, "Welcome my good and faithful servant," or will He say, "Depart from Me for I never knew you."

It is a sobering thought!

Go, now, and by the grace of God, find that buried treasure!

God Bless You,