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,

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,

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,,

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,

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,