Thursday, July 27, 2017

Abram Prays to God

And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?
And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.
Genesis 15:2-3, KJV

Abram Prays to God

In the book of Genesis, as we read the story of Abram/Abraham, we read many directives from God to Abram. However, the first actual prayer by Abram which is recorded in the Word of God is shown above from Genesis 15.

Abram's life is rich with blessing as we see this extraordinary man follow God. This is not the God of his fathers--this was a God previously unknown to Abram. Yet, when God begins to appear to Abram and speak to him, we find that Abram was amazingly obedient. God was not asking small things of Abram, but rather, God was commanding him to leave everything he had formerly known--family, friends, and even his gods--to follow Him.

By the mercies and grace of God, Abram did not lack for riches, but there was one thing that Abram did lack. Abram had no children; his wife, Sarah, was barren. 

Abram fell before God and asked that God would give him an heir for at this time his only heir was his personal steward--a man who served him faithfully but was not his descendant.

How did God answer this prayer of Abram? 

And, behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.
And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
Genesis 15:4-5, KJV

God's intention was not for Eliezer to be Abram's heir. Instead, God promised that Abram would have an heir. Not only did God not stop there, but he brought Abram out to look at the stars of the sky. He asked Abram if he could count the stars. As Abram gazed up to the starry heavens, God said, "So shall thy seed be."

What a powerful illustration of God's grace to his servant, Abram.

How did Abram respond?

And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
Genesis 15:6, KJV

How has God answered that prayer? How many believers have there been in this world since the days of Abram? How many believers live in all the countries of the world today? As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we worship this same God. As such, we are the children of Abram; we are part of that starry heaven that Abram gazed upon!

Does God answer prayer? Oh yes! The difficulty, however, does not lie with God, but it lies with us. Do we believe that God answers prayer? Do we believe that God answers our prayer?

Are we guilty of limiting God because we do not believe He will answer our prayers like He answered those of Abram? Do we limit God and instead trust in the works of men (ourselves included) to answer our prayers?

Man has achieved so much, especially in the last century, that I fear we are far too ready to trust in men and women to take care of our needs. The world offers so much, does it not?

However, there is one very important thing you will not find in this world. You will not find the true way to heaven and an eternity with God. Only in Christ can we find true salvation. Only in Christ and in our Father, God, will we find the One who can truly care for us and take care of all of our needs.

It took Abram a lifetime to discover this. Have we, in the years we have lived on this earth, made that same discovery? Is it God in whom we place all of our trust? Go to Christ, He is the only way, the only truth, and the only life. 

Yes, God answers the prayers of His children!

God Bless You,
Linda
 

 

 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Beginning of Prayer

And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
Genesis 2:23, KJV

The Beginning of Prayer

The words recorded above were the first words of Adam as recorded in the book of Genesis--the book of beginnings. Is this a prayer? In essence, yes! Who was Adam speaking to? He was speaking to God. What is prayer? Prayer is a conversation with God, or as Robert Burns stated, "A correspondence fixed in heaven."

Adam, created perfectly, had a relationship with his Creator that we will not have until we reach the courts of heaven. We can not possibly relate to this experience of Adam. He walked in the Garden of Eden and talked with God. 

Unfortunately, his relationship with God (and thus our relationship with God as well) changed when Adam and Eve sinned against God. Being thrust out of God's beautiful garden, Adam and Eve faced the stark reality of their new life. Never again, while living on this earth, would they have that comfortable presence with God.

Knowing God as they did, we would assume, however, that they continued to pray to their Father God and would teach their children to do the same.

Is this too simple or easy for us? Are we being too familiar with this awesome and holy God we serve to think of just conversing with Him as we converse with one another? Are we guilty of not praying to God because we believe that we do not know how to pray to Him? Do we feel too unworthy to approach His throne of grace?

These are valid questions and should not be too easily dismissed. Getting back to our subject of prayers in the Bible, one would think that the book of Genesis would be filled with prayers and supplications to God. Is that what we find. In actuality, that is not really the case. 

In most instances, in this study, we will be looking at actual prayers as we think of them, and not just the conversations that Adam, and later Cain, had with God in Genesis 3 and 4. Genesis continues with a history of the development of civilization. After Cain killed his brother, Abel, we are told that Cain went out from the presence of the Lord (Genesis 4:16).

Was all lost? Was there none who would follow after God?

25 And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.
26 And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.
Genesis 4:25-26, KJV

No, all was not lost. God raised up a godly seed through Seth. 

In our next devotion we will actually look at the first recorded prayer in the Bible by Abraham. We know that Enoch and Noah were men who were recorded as walking with God, yet, the Bible does not record any actual prayers they made to God.

It is not until after the flood that God continues the narrative of a godly line of people who followed after Him, the One and True Living God, by giving us the account of His servant, Abraham.

Let us, today, think of our own relationship with God. God--the God of all the Universe, has reached down, loved a people unworthy of His love, and called them to be His children. Let us respond to His great and wondrous love for us. Let us seek a regular and personal relationship with Him in prayer and Bible study. He loves us, He guides us, and He will carry us through all of the difficulties of this life and then take us home to live with Him forever!

What an amazing God we serve. Nothing in this life is more important than Him!

God Bless You,
Linda





Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Prayer

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel.
Ephesians 6:17-19, NKJV

Prayer

I have been a believer for a long time and yet one thing in my spiritual walk seems to concern me. I would like to have a stronger prayer life. Oh yes, I talk to God constantly throughout the day, and yet I think there is so much more to prayer that I am missing.

I would love to say that is because I am so busy. While that may have been true for many years, it really is not a valid excuse for me anymore. I think that, even though I passionately love the Lord and desire His leading an guidance in my life, I do not spend very much time just meditating and praying to God.

Think of it--God, the Creator of the universe, loves us. That love is so great that He desires communication with us. And, He is available 24/7. Prayer is more than just coming to God with all of our needs, wants, and desires. Prayer is conversation with God Himself. 

When I thought of this topic, I remembered the phrase from Ephesian 6:18: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit. What does that really mean? Let's take this a phrase at a time:

Praying always - yes, it is good for us to be in conversation with God all day long. We literally are to live in an attitude of prayer as we understand that God walks with us through every experience of the day, He hears every conversation we have with others, and He knows our most intimate thoughts and desires. Why not, then, acknowledge His active presence in our lives and converse with Him throughout the day.

With all prayer and supplication - prayer is more than just asking. Yes, we do ask God to help and intercede in all of the events of our lives. We recognize that, as believers, we are totally dependant upon God to live and guide us through each day. That is the supplication part of the phrase. However, with the supplication is the phrase, with prayer. Prayer equals conversation with God. We pray to Him and we ponder His response. As we consider who God is, we realize the great Helper we have!

In the Spirit - Christ promised to the disciples that when He left this earth, He would send His Spirit to help and empower them. We need to get to know the Spirit. He lives within our very hearts and guides our thoughts and actions. When reading God's Word, He helps us to understand what it means and helps us to apply it to our lives. He is our Helper, Our Guide, and Our Constant Companion!.

In this study, I will be using a book entitled, "All the Prayers of the Bible," by Herbert Lockyer. My own personal goal in this study is to go to the Word of God and actually study Bible prayers and God's response to those prayers. In doing so I hope that all of us will not only understand this powerful subject much better, but that we each will become strong and powerful prayer warriors. 

In the end, may Christ be glorified. Without Him we have nothing, but with Him we have everything!

God Bless You,
Linda
  

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Judah and Tamar

1 It came to pass at that time that Judah departed from his brothers, and visited a certain Adullamite whose name was Hirah. And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua, and he married her and went in to her. So she conceived and bore a son, and he called his name Er. She conceived again and bore a son, and she called his name Onan. And she conceived yet again and bore a son, and called his name Shelah. He was at Chezib when she bore him.
Then Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord killed him. And Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife and marry her, and raise up an heir to your brother.” But Onan knew that the heir would not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in to his brother’s wife, that he emitted on the ground, lest he should give an heir to his brother. 10 And the thing which he did displeased the Lord; therefore He killed him also.
11 Then Judah said to Tamar his daughter-in-law, “Remain a widow in your father’s house till my son Shelah is grown.” For he said, “Lest he also die like his brothers.” And Tamar went and dwelt in her father’s house.
Genesis 38:1-11, NKJV

Judah and Tamar

Life in the Bible times of Judah and Tamar were difficult times for a woman. A woman rarely lived alone or had any way to provide for herself. 

We know very little about Tamar. We are told that Judah took Tamar to be a wife for his oldest son, Er.  Note that Tamar had nothing to say about this transaction which was probably made between Judah and Tamar's father. Yes, I know. It is not very romantic, is it? However, we will find that Tamar's name appears in the genealogy of Christ, so the story becomes much more compelling.

Er, we are told, was very wicked in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord killed him. When a woman became a widow without children, she was given in marriage to the next son so that this son might raise up a son in his brother's name. The next son, Onan, refused to give an heir to his brother, so "he emitted on the ground." This so displeased the Lord that He slew Onan also.

Judah, Tamar's father-in-law told her to remain a widow in her father's house until Judah's youngest son, Shelah, was grown. Note what Judah said in verse 11: "Lest he also die like his brothers."

What does that mean? Judah had no intention of giving his youngest son to Tamar. He believed the death of his first two sons was her fault. He feared that if he gave Tamar to his youngest son, Shelah, that his youngest son would die as well.

What lesson do we have to learn from the story of Judah and Tamar as given in Genesis 38:1-11?

The most important lesson of all for us to understand is that no matter how we may try to deceive others or to hide our sins, God sees everything. It really does not matter what others may think of us--the only thing that matters is what God thinks of us. 

While none of us are perfect, we must know that every sin, no matter how small, is enough of a sin to keep us from a perfect and holy God. However, due to His great love for us, God has provided his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as the perfect, righteous, and holy sacrifice for our sins. If we turn to the Lord Jesus Christ, cry out to Him for forgiveness, and turn to Him as the only Guide and Lord of our lives, He gives us admittance into the very throne room of God. When God looks upon us, He sees the righteousness and holiness of His own dear Son.

Er and Onan, however, refused to live and serve God. They each chose to go their own way and died because of their foolish choice.

Let us, then, go back to Tamar. Judah, her father-in-law, blamed her for the deaths of his sons. In disgrace she was sent back to her father's house to live as a widow. She was trapped in circumstances over which she had no control.

Do we find ourselves trapped in our circumstances? Is there no hope for us? Let us remember that our steps are ordered by the Lord. If our circumstances seem to trap and stifle us, we need only to turn to the Lord God. To His own dear children, He is available 24/7. No circumstances are too difficult for Him.

Is this what Tamar did? Well, that is a story for our next devotion. Tamar's actions were actually very unwise, and yet God used her foolish choices to bless her and include her in the line of Christ.

Let us, as we consider this story of Judah and Tamar, look to Christ for all of our needs, He is the only Savior and in Him are we truly blessed forever. 

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Jacob, Leah, and Rachel: Unity at Last!

So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field, to his flock, and said to them, “I see your father’s countenance, that it is not favorable toward me as before; but the God of my father has been with me. And you know that with all my might I have served your father. Yet your father has deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me.

14 Then Rachel and Leah answered and said to him, “Is there still any portion or inheritance for us in our father’s house? 15 Are we not considered strangers by him? For he has sold us, and also completely consumed our money. 16 For all these riches which God has taken from our father are really ours and our children’s; now then, whatever God has said to you, do it.”
Genesis 31:4-7 and 14-16, NKJV

Jacob, Leah, and Rachel: Unity at Last!

In our Bible passage from Genesis 31, we are given a different view of Rachel and Leah. Life was not always a life of conflict.  When Jacob called the two sisters together and reviewed his reasons for needing to leave, they had no argument. As a matter of fact, one has to feel a little sorry for the girls. Their father, Laban, seemed to just use them as chattel, and then, after more than 20 years, he was ready to let them leave with nothing.

The girls agreed with Jacob, "For all these riches which God has taken from our father are really ours and our children's; now then, whatever God has said to you, do it."

The two women, Rachel and Leah, are now both in their mid-lives--probably in their 40's. One certainly gains a different view of life as one gets older. While the girls agreed with Jacob that their father was in the wrong, they did understand that the things that Jacob now possessed were not stolen from their father, but rather, were gifts from God.

What mature insight they showed. How do we view our past? Are we angry and bitter over what has gone before--blaming all of our troubles on others? Do we actually believe we would be much happier if things had gone differently for us?

As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, let us not fall into the thought patterns of those of this world. It is easy to blame others for all of the difficulties we face--and we all will face difficulties! What is the proper response for Christians? As believers, we understand that all of our days are ordered by the Lord. 

A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.

Proverbs 16:9, NKJV

If it is truly God who directs our steps, then our anger and our bitterness are really directed at Him! Why does God send or allow troubles to come into the lives of His children? 

We worship a kind and loving God who orders our life in such a way that our difficulties and troubles will draw us closer to Him. He is gradually helping us to let go of the things of this world and cling more solidly to Him. In His kindness and love, He knows that true peace, joy, and happiness are only found in Him.

Do you think that the Rachel and Leah are beginning to understand this principle as well?

As we read the story of Rachel and Leah, let us remember that they have now been in the presence of the Lord for literally thousands of years. Our life on this earth is so very, very short. Let us, then, set our hearts and minds on the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is Christ who has saved us, Who keeps us, and Who will bring us to live with Him forever!

Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!

God Bless You,
Linda


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Jacob, Leah, and Rachel: Conflict in the Camp

14 And Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them unto his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, Give me, I pray thee, of thy son's mandrakes.
15 And she said unto her, Is it a small matter that thou hast taken my husband? and wouldest thou take away my son's mandrakes also? And Rachel said, Therefore he shall lie with thee to night for thy son's mandrakes.
16 And Jacob came out of the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, Thou must come in unto me; for surely I have hired thee with my son's mandrakes. And he lay with her that night.
17 And God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived, and bare Jacob the fifth son.
Genesis 30:14-17, KJV

Jacob, Leah, and Rachel: Conflict in the Camp

We will remember from our last few devotions that Jacob, fleeing to the land of his mother's birth, found more than just safety. He found a beautiful woman! Yes, it was love at first sight. He loved Rachel so much that serving his uncle for seven years to secure her as his wife seemed as if no time had gone by at all. His uncle, however, tricked him and gave him his oldest daughter, Leah, as his wife. In return for another seven years of labor, he could receive Rachel as his second wife.

Agreeing to his uncle's terms, Jacob now found himself with two wives. As sisters, one would expect it to be one happy family. However, that was not the case. 

Seeing that Leah was the unloved wife, God blessed her with children, but Rachel was barren. Years of conflict became the normal life for this "love triangle," as the sisters competed with each other for children and for Jacob's love. In our passage shown above from Genesis 30, we see an example of this continuing conflict. 

Reuban, Leah's firstborn, found mandrakes (which were believed to make a woman fertile), in the field. Rachel demanded the mandrakes for herself. How did Leah respond?

15 And she said unto her, Is it a small matter that thou hast taken my husband? and wouldest thou take away my son's mandrakes also? And Rachel said, Therefore he shall lie with thee to night for thy son's mandrakes.

In other words, Leah "bought" a night with Jacob in exchange for the mandrakes. Was it worth the trade? Yes, indeed! God blessed Leah with a fifth son.

Looking at the bigger picture, what do we find? In the end, God blessed both women with sons as well as giving them sons through their handmaidens. These twelve sons of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel became the twelve tribes of Israel.

Which sister won? Neither actually won, as both were blessed with sons. Rachel always remained the love of Jacob's life. Though Leah had the firstborn son and had more sons than Rachel, she never earned Jacob's love. How, then, did God compensate for that lack of love? Leah's son, Judah, became the head of the tribe of Israel from which the Lord Jesus Christ would be born.

We do not live long in this life before we face many kinds of conflict. How do we view that conflict? Does God work through conflict in our lives? Yes! Though God is never the author of sin, He uses our sin and the resulting conflicts which arise to order our lives and to accomplish His perfect will.

Let us always remember that God is God and we are not. Let us not try to bring God down to our level as though He is just a glorified man. Let us, instead, fall down and worship Him as our only God and King. May we walk in His perfect peace and love knowing that He brings all things to pass for His own glory. Nothing we do can circumvent His will.

How amazing that such a God as we have sent His only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, through the tribe of Judah, to this earth for one purpose. Christ came to purchase a people for Himself. Reach out to Him today; cry out to Him for salvation. Fall at His feet and accept Him as your only Lord and Savior.

What an amazing God we serve. This reminds me of a song: "Sitting at the Feet of Jesus" by Joseph L. Hall, published in 1868.


1 Sitting at the feet of Jesus,
Oh, what words I hear Him say!
Happy place! so near, so precious!
May it find me there each day;
Sitting at the feet of Jesus,
I would look upon the past;
For His love has been so gracious,
It has won my heart at last. 



2 Sitting at the feet of Jesus,
Where can mortal be more blest?
There I lay my sins and sorrows,
And, when weary, find sweet rest;
Sitting at the feet of Jesus,
There I love to weep and pray;
While I from His fullness gather

Grace and comfort every day.
 
3 Bless me, O my Savior, bless me,
As *I sit low at Thy feet; [*I’m waiting]
Oh, look down in love upon me,
Let me see Thy face so sweet;
Give me, Lord, the mind of Jesus,
Keep me holy as He is;
May I prove I’ve been with Jesus,
Who is all my righteousness.



Go, today, and sit at the feet of Jesus!

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, January 27, 2017

Jacob, Leah, and Rachel: A Wife for Jacob

14 And Laban said to him, Surely thou art my bone and my flesh. And he abode with him the space of a month.

15 And Laban said unto Jacob, Because thou art my brother, shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? tell me, what shall thy wages be?

16 And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.

17 Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured.

18 And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter.

19 And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man: abide with me.

20 And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.

21 And Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her.

22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast.

23 And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in unto her.

24 And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for an handmaid.

25 And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?

26 And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn.

27 Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years.

28 And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also.
Genesis 29:14-28, KJV

Jacob, Leah, and Rachel: A Wife for Jacob

Our Scripture for today is perhaps one of the most interesting passages. Though it is a rather lengthy portion of Scripture, I have included it all for your convenience. Jacob has arrived in Haran and providentially goes to the same well that Abraham's servant went to years before. Just as in the case of his mother, Rebekah, who was bringing sheep to the well to be watered, who should appear but Rachel? One look at his beautiful cousin, and Jacob was smitten.

After meeting his Uncle Laban, Jacob determined that this is where he wanted to stay. Laban, however, would not hear of Jacob working for him without earning wages. Imagine Laban's surprise when Jacob responded, "I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter."

Jacob, the deceiver had certainly met his match in his uncle, for Laban had a secret that he did not bother to disclose to Jacob until it was too late.

We are told that Jacob served Laban seven years for Rachel, and his love was such for her that it seemed as though it had only been a few days. After the seven years were fulfilled, Jacob demanded that Laban give him Rachel as his wife.

What did Laban do? Secretly (for the bride was veiled) Laban gave him his daughter, Leah, instead. It was not until the next morning that Jacob discovered that he was married to Leah instead of Rachel. How did Laban respond? He said that in his country he could not marry the younger daughter before the elder. However, he said, "If you fulfill her week I will also give you Rachel if you agree to serve me another seven years."

Fourteen years of service! However, Jacob so loved Rachel that he agreed to Laban's terms.

Let's take a step back for a moment and think about this. Where was God in all of this? God had plans to build the nation of Israel through Jacob. He allowed the scheming of Laban, who was not a believer in God, to fulfill His own plans.

This certainly created an interesting life for Jacob. He now had two wives--one whom he loved and the other whom he did not love. Can you see problems in this between the two sisters? Of course! Yet God worked His will through them.

Let us remember that God uses the ordinary events of life to fulfill His will. Nothing we do is too little for God. If we are His children, then He is advancing His perfect will though us. However, if we are not a believer, He is still working His will through us! God is God, and He rules over all of heaven and earth. Nothing we can say or do will prevent His perfect will from happening.

Of course, for us, the end of our life will be determined by our serving God or not. If we love and serve Him, accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as our only Lord and Savior, we will be ushered into His glorious kingdom forever. If we are not believers, the end of our life will bring eternal punishment. Rejecting Christ has eternal consequences.

Now is the day of salvation! Come to Him now while you still can!

It is a sobering, but necessary choice!

God Bless You,
Linda 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Jacob, Leah and Rachel: Deja Vu

1 Then Jacob went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east.

2 And he looked, and behold a well in the field, and, lo, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks: and a great stone was upon the well's mouth.

3 And thither were all the flocks gathered: and they rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again upon the well's mouth in his place.

4 And Jacob said unto them, My brethren, whence be ye? And they said, Of Haran are we.

5 And he said unto them, Know ye Laban the son of Nahor? And they said, We know him.


10 And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother's brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother's brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother's brother.

11 And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept.

12 And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's brother, and that he was Rebekah's son: and she ran and told her father.
Genesis 29:1-5 and 10-12, KJV

Jacob, Leah, and Rachel: Deja Vu

As we read through the verses shown above from Genesis 29, we cannot but help to feel a sense of deja vu. This brings to mind the occasion of Abraham's servant looking for a wife for Isaac. He stopped at the well in Haran and who should happen to come to the well at the same time? Rebekah was just coming to water the sheep.

Now we return to the same well several years later. Jacob has just arrived from a long journey from the land of Canaan and who should just happen to be coming with her sheep? Rachel! Jacob quickly discovered that this is his cousin, Rachel. It was practically love at first sight, but we will leave that for the next devotional.

We, as believers, live a rather interesting life. Life seems to go on day after day with not much of a change in our circumstances. Yet, just as in the case of Jacob, one trip, one new job, one new circumstance and everything in our life suddenly changes. At least it seems as though it is a sudden change, but is it really? Who orders and controls our lives? Who brings about these circumstances that result in a sudden change in our life. God!

What a great comfort we have in knowing this wondrous God we serve. We do not have to be afraid of our outward circumstances, for we know that God controls all things. Did Jacob realize this? He certainly had a miraculous encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself. Often the Lord Jesus appeared during Old Testament times as a Theophany or, in the case of Jacob, in a dream. 

Yet, what did Jacob understand about God? Did he have the comfort of knowing that God was leading and guiding his life? How often do we take our Bibles for granted? God so wondrously reveals Himself to us in the pages of His Word, and yet we are too busy with the things of this world to take time to spend with God. Imagine that--when we pray to God, we are ushered right into the very throne room of God. 

We have the wonderful opportunity, when reading God's Word, to have a sort of bird's-eye-view of the lives of the Old Testament saints. In other words, we get to see the bigger picture. Let us take that same view and apply it to our lives today. Let us not get caught up in the day-to-day humdrum of life, but let us, rather, look to God and understand that He is guiding and directing even our seemingly ordinary lives.

Truly, nothing about the life of the believer is ordinary! It took the death of God's own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to provide His people with a perfection before God that is not their own. The blood of Christ has covered the debt of their sins before a holy and righteous God. They are bought with a price and precious in the eyes of God.

Go, today, as a precious child of God and live your life to the honor and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

God Bless You,,
Linda

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Jacob, Leah, and Rachel: Jacob at Bethel

10 Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11 So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. 12 Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. 14 Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. 15 Behold, I amwith you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”
16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”
Genesis 28:10-17, NKJV

 Jacob, Leah, and Rachel: Jacob at Bethel

I realize that this series of devotions is on Bible couples, but we do come to a complex situation with Jacob, because, in the end, he finds himself (literally) with two wives instead of one. You can imagine the difficulties that could arise in such a situation, and indeed that 
was certainly the case with Jacob. So how did Jacob end up in such a situation? In order to answer that question, we must regress.

As a review, you will remember that Jacob has a twin brother, Esau, who was born first, and thus had the birthright of the first born son. God, however, had prophesied that the older would serve the younger. Through the deception of Jacob and his mother, Rebekah, Jacob did receive the blessing of the oldest son. 

When Esau learned of this deception, he determined that when his father died, he would kill his brother Jacob. On learning this, Rebekah urged Jacob to leave. Using the excuse that he needed to find a wife, she and Isaac urged him to go to the land of Mesopotamia and look for a wife among his relatives.

That is where we find Jacob in the passage shown above from Genesis 28. It was certainly a turning point for Jacob. While on the way, he stopped for the night. Using some rocks as a pillow for his head, he lay down and slept. During the night, he dreamed a dream. A ladder was stretched to heaven and on it angels were ascending and descending. God stood above the ladder and spoke to Jacob, saying,

"I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. 14 Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”

In other words, God was reaffirming his covenant that He had made with Abraham and Isaac, with Jacob. Jacob, upon awakening, realized that this was, indeed, and ephiphany for him. Jacob poured oil on the ston, built an altar there, and called the name of the place, Bethel, which means literally, house of God.



What a time Jacob had, but we will leave that for future devotions. Do we have epiphanies  our day? Yes, we do. Most of the time, we really do not comprehend these special times until later. In looking back on our lives, we see specific points where our lives took a drastic change.



Does God control these special times? Yes! What a comfort for us, as believers, to understand that God leads and guides us in all of the events of our lives. As Christians, we each have a specific work or duty for the Lord. Many times we do not come to the point of doing that work until much of our life has already passed. Yet, in looking back, we can see how God has prepared us for that time throughout all of the days of our lives.



What an amazing God we serve. Jacob was correct to name the place where he was at, Bethel. Indeed, he had come to the very house of God and now understood that God was leading and guiding in all of the events of his life. 



Little did he know that God would use he, Leah, and Rachel to build the nation that would become known as the nation of Israel. 


Let us, this day, bow down before the Lord our God and thank Him for the many ways He guides and directs in our lives each day. By His grace, may we be used mightily to advance His kingdom here on earth.

God Bless You,
Linda

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,
Linda

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,
Linda

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,
Linda