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Showing posts from January 4, 2015

God's Love

It probably comes as no surprise to you when I say that men have a harder time saying, "I love you," than do women. It seems in our nature to be harder, resistant to opening ourselves up to express with words our "love." I recently sat in a worship service where the pastor was reflecting on 1 John 4:12-16. I have preached from this book and taught it in India as well as America but my thoughts were captivated by one phrase there. Here it is, "We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us." The love of God is declared in the written Word but that is not enough, as it is not enough to just say, "I love you." So, God took the second step and sent His Son to demonstrate the extent to which He…

Life Direction

Hagar was obedient to God and returned to Sarah from running away as God had told her to do. So, life went on and God brought Isaac, Sarah's own son, into the picture. Fourteen to sixteen years later, still Sarah's servant, Hagar and Ismael become a perceived threat. Isaac is finally weaned from his mother and Abraham celebrates but at that celebration Ismael "mocks" the event or Isaac, and Sarah determines to rid herself, once and for all, of Hagar and Ismael. Once her joy and promise of a heritage, Sarah now sees them as a threat to her promised son, Isaac. Abraham agrees and "early the next morning, Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went her way and wandered in the desert of Beersheba." (Genesis 21:14) So, Hagar is given to Abraham as a wife by his wife, Sarah. She mistreats her and Hagar escapes. Then, comes back, has her baby and stays for about 15 ye…

Running?

In the midst of the story of Abraham and Sarah's attempts to make the will of God happen for them is another powerful story of Hagar running away. Hagar was despised and mistreated by Sarah and ignored by Abraham which led her to make a rash decision and bolt, but she was sought after and cared for by God. She was found by the Angel of the Lord by a spring in the desert. And the angel said to her, "Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?" (Genesis 16:7-8) We see that the angel still addressed her as what she presently was, a servant, but then, asked her two powerful questions to get her thinking. "Where have you come from?" Hagar had run away because of the problem she was having with Sarah but the question by the angel suggests that she take a broader look at her previous situation. She was now in the desert, a hot, dry, and formidable place for a woman with no resources. She had come from a place where there was food, wate…

Making God's Will

When you last desired the will of God for your life and thought you knew what it was, how did you try to make it happen? That is, if you felt that you had found the will of God for you in a mate, job, or profession, how did you try to manipulate it to come true? Abraham had been told by God that he would have a son and that his progeny would be like the stars in the sky. So, Abraham went about trying to resource the will of God for God. He first took Lot under his wing. Since he was his brother's son and his brother had died, maybe this was the way God would fulfill the promise. So, he adopted Lot and gave him all the privileges of a son, but that didn't work out as Lot walked away from Abraham's influence and destroyed his own family through his association with Sodom and Gomorrah. Then later, Abraham assumed that it would be Eliezer, his servant that would become his heir. He said, "the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?" (Genesis 15:2) But…

Pledged to Truth

Do you remember those times when your parent came to you and asked you a question concerning your actions? Did you answer them with a "yes" or "no" or did you immediately move to an excuse or swear that you didn't do it? All parents want is the truth but getting to that with a child seems to be as hard as getting to the truth with an adult. Jesus suggests a solution for this dilemma. He said, "Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes' and your 'No' 'No;' anything beyond this comes from the evil one." (Matthew 5:37) So, what does this really mean about your words and answers to questions by family, friends and work associates or bosses? If your heart is true to God, then every statement you make is made as if you were making it in the very presence of God before whom all thoughts and actions are revealed. The heart of a believer must be pledged to truth without an oath, for an oath just gets in the way. It assumes you are not capa…

Meeting God

For the last ten years I have been spending time early in the morning reading God's Word and thinking about what it means to me. At first it was a struggle to get up and remain faithful to the commitment I had made to do this but I forced myself and the more I did it, the more consistent I became. Some have said it is not necessary to read through the Bible but I have found it helpful to get to know it as a whole and to be on a treasure hunt within each chapter. I chose a method of reading through the Bible using the One Year Bible New International Version. This version which had been given to me in March of 1990 in Dallas, Texas, sat on my shelf until I began in 2005. It was readable and had space enough in the margins that I could jot notes as I read. It also had daily readings for the whole year in Old and New Testament and Psalms and Proverbs. It was easy to know where I was every day. I could have chosen to do this in the afternoon or in the evening but here is why I do it …

Joy Not Happiness

Farmers could attest to the satisfaction or happiness they feel when they have completed the cycle of plant, grow, and harvest for any grain. I'm sure those who grow wine could attest to how long the process is in planting, growing, pruning, final harvest of grapes and their ultimate processing into wine and the satisfaction that comes over them when it is completed. These are circumstantial satisfactions; happiness as a result of accomplishment. In our world today, the farmer and the vineyard owner are somewhat in the background. There are many other jobs that we do that seem to have a cycle like that of those who work the ground. Construction of any building, commercial or residential, can produce the same kind of happiness or satisfaction. Developing new products also can do the same as well as many others. David says this about all accomplishment in work that brings satisfaction to the soul, "You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine ab…