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