Thursday, May 31, 2012

Covenantal Marks

Genesis 17:9-14

When I was a kid, every now and then some guys would make a bond and call themselves "blood brothers."  This was something that happened when two boys were best of friends and made a promise to each other that their friendship was for life.  They would then cut themselves on the hand and shake hands and let their blood mingle.  The idea was that because their blood mixed, they were now "blood brothers," which seemed even closer than best friends and they promised to never betray each other.  I think I'm dating myself because you would never hear about boys doing this anymore; the introduction of HIV and Hepatitis has put an end to such rituals.  The verses I am looking at today made me think about it because they are about a physical mark God asked all men to have to show that they were a part of the covenant family.  Please read Genesis 17:9-14.

These verses and this command God gave Abraham became a source of contention for the early church.  God had said in verse 14 that any male who did not do this would be cut out of the covenant family.  But Paul also pointed out that it wasn't the circumcision that saved a person, but it was the work God did in them as a result of faith.  Colossians 2:11-12 says, "When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead."  We are circumcised when we believe in the saving power of Christ because he performed a spiritual circumcision on our hearts.  This was a cutting away of our sinful nature which is far more powerful than any physical procedure.

That is exciting because this is the only way we rid ourselves of sin.  In fact, it is not by anything we do it is through the amazing work of Christ.  It is this spiritual circumcision that marks us as a part of the family of God.  How blessed we are to have a Savior who would cut away all the sin we have done so we can be a part of His family!

Do you believe that Christ has cut away your sinful nature?

This post is linked with Thought Provoking Thursday and Grace Cafe.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Called By God

Genesis 17:1-8

For the last few days, I have looked at God's promise to Abram about having many descendants and how Hagar, Sarai's servant gave him a son (Ishmael).  Something that gets very lost in Abraham's story is the timing of all these events.  Abram was 75 years old when God first called him to leave his home and follow Him.  Abram was 86 years old when Ishmael was born.  At some point in between those events God had promised Abram that he would have many descendants.  I just think of how I sometimes get impatient with God's timing and my dreams and then I am humbled by Abram's life.  God didn't even reveal a part of His plan for Abram's life until Abram was 75 years old.  But there is still more to Abram's story; please read Genesis 17:1-8.

Did you notice Abram's age in this part of his story?  Abram was 99 years old, which means Ishmael was 13 years old.  This is an amazing scene to read about because God appears to Abram and calls Himself "El Shaddai" - God Almighty.  I think about how overwhelming this had to be for Abram; he heard God call Himself "God Almighty."  Abram's reaction was to immediately fall face down to the ground.  God reminded Abram of His promise to give him many descendants and told him that it was a covenant between them that many nations would come from Abram.  I think that at the ripe old age of 99, this must have been overwhelming to hear.  It is also so humbling to think that we read within a matter of a few chapters some major encounters Abram had with God they all happened in a span of 24 years.

But God didn't stop with His covenant with Abram; He renamed him.  Abram means "exalted father," but God wasn't satisfied with that; God called him Abraham, which means "father of many."  But there is something I want to point out is that God called him Abraham before he became the father of many.  This is important for all of us to consider because we are also given a new name when we believe God and the hope we have in Christ.  We are called children of God because of our faith; in Matthew 3:9 (NLT) John the Baptist said, "Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones."  Galatians 3:7 (NLT) says, "The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God."  As God's children we have victory; 1 John 5:4 (NLT) says, "For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith." 

There are so many names we are called as God's children that I do not have time to explore; names like light of the world, salt of the earth, righteous, holy, heirs, and so much more!  We may not feel like we live up to our new names; however, remember that He calls us how He sees us.  We are who God says we are.  Just as God called Abraham a father of many before he had conceived his son with Sarai, God calls us who we are according to the promise we have in Christ.

Do you believe God's declaration of who He says you are?

This post is linked with iFellowship Blog Hop and Word Filled Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The God Who Sees and Hears

Genesis 16:6-16

When you pray, do you believe that God hears you?  When you are in a difficult situation, do you believe that God sees you and understands what is happening?  I do!  There were some wonderful things in my childhood, but there were some things that happened to me that should never happen to any one let alone to a child.  Even with some of those horrible things, I know that God not only saw what was happening, but He was with me and was hurting with me.  The thing that is so amazing about God is how He can take some of the worst things and most painful experiences and turn them into a piece of beauty in us.  What God has done in me through healing and teaching me to forgive is beyond my ability to even describe, but what I can say is that He allowed me to see that He heard my cry.  He drew me closer to Him through all of it.  Last week we left off with Hagar becoming pregnant with Abram's child and she began to treat Sarai with contempt.  As a result, Sarai mistreated her and Hagar ran away.  We will pick up the story from there and see how God met Hagar in a painful place; please read Genesis 16:6-16.

There are a few things in these verses that caught my attention that I want to share with you.  The first was the fact that God called Hagar by name and even mentioned that she was Sarai's servant.  When Hagar explained that she was running away, God told her to go back and submit to Sarai's authority.  There was a spiral of events that had taken Hagar here with the first being that Hagar became Abram's second wife with no choice on her part.  We are not told how Hagar felt about this turn of events; however, I can imagine that it couldn't have been easy to be told that you were going to become the wife of your master's husband for the sole reason to bear him a son.  Then she became pregnant and we are told that she treated Sarai with contempt and Sarai's reaction was to treat her "harshly."  Perhaps going back and submitting to Sarai's authority was going to help her with how Sarai was treating her.  This is so important to remember; we need to remember that the person in leadership has authority and we need to respect their authority.

God also reassured Hagar that He heard her cry and instructed her to name her son Ishmael, which means "God hears."  Oh, how important this is!  God didn't assist Hagar to run to a new land, instead He told her to go back and submit.  Just because He doesn't answer our cries in the way we expect, we can know that He hears our cries.  This is so beautiful and blesses me so much to think about because we know that He wants what is best.  God knew that it would be best for Hagar and Ishmael to go back to Abram's household and God knows what is best for us.  The other wonderful thing that Hagar came to realize was that God saw her.  She came to know Him as the God Who Sees.  Imagine what would happen if we all believed that God hears and sees us!

Do you believe that God sees and hears you?

This post is linked with On Your Heart Tuesday and Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day


Today is Memorial Day in the United States, which is a day when we remember to acknowledge those who have bravely served our country and paid the greatest sacrifice.  Instead of having my usual Bible study, I would like to spend some time praying for our soldiers and their families.

Dear Heavenly Father,

We pray for those who have sacrificed so much to serve our country.  They have put themselves willingly into harm's way in order to protect us and to protect others.  We ask you to protect them and give them peace.  Let them know your presence so they may know you are with them.  Give them an understanding that You really are the God who sees them (Genesis 16:13).  Help them to trust in Your provision and Your protection.  We pray for their families, that they may experience Your comfort and Your true peace.  Allow the children who have a parent serving overseas to learn to come to You for comfort.  We ask that they would be surrounded by people who will show them love in the void they feel from the absence of their parent.  We pray for the spouses and parents who worry every day.  Lord, please let them bring their fears and burdens to You and wrap Your loving arms around them.  We pray for the family and friends who are mourning for a loved one who has made the greatest sacrifice a person could make.  We ask that You heal their wounded and hurting hearts and bring them comfort.  Please fill the void that is left in their hearts with Your amazing and glorious love.

We praise You and thank You so much for these amazing men and women and we ask that You would bring them home safely.

We pray this in the most powerful and mighty Name of Jesus,

Amen.

This post is linked with Sharing His Beauty and Monday's Musings.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sacrifice of Praise

This morning I'm slogging through a cold and can only hear out of one ear.  It is annoying because my kids are getting impatient with me asking, "What did you say?"  I woke up around 6:00 AM and I wasn't sure if I would make it to my exercise class because my head wasn't feeling too great.  But I went anyway hoping that I would just make it through at least a half hour.  I ended up making it through the entire hour and feeling tired but better than I did when I went in to the class.  Moving around and stretching seemed to have an effect on how the cold was making me feel.

Sometimes we can feel like that with our spiritual life.  Maybe we feel too distracted to pray or read the Bible for the day; however, if we still jump in and give it a try we come out finding that we are completely blessed by our time with God.  We find that we are more ready for the day than we were before going into our time with God.  We find ourselves praising and worshiping God more because we become more aware of His greatness.  We are more able to walk through the day with God's eyes and see what He wants us to do.  When we spend time with God, we find that He empowers us to meet the needs of those around us.  Hebrews 13:14-16 says, "Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need.  These are the sacrifices that please God."  Let's make the sacrifices that please God rather than ourselves!

Here are a few of my favorite posts this week:

A beautiful post by Christina on the importance of reading the Bible at  To Show Them Jesus

A wonderful post of encouragement by Tracy at My Daily Walk In His Grace

A great reminder by Christa on trusting God's guidance at Ewe Speak

This post is linked with Spiritual Sundays.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Helping God...

Genesis 16:1-6

Sometimes when God gives us a dream, we do not see even the beginning of the dream being fulfilled for years.  This can be difficult for even the most patient person!  If we are not careful, we may find ourselves "helping" God move that dream along; however, that isn't how God works.  God knows the right time and place to start the process and we are far better off waiting for Him to get things going.  For most of this week, I have been reading through Genesis 15 when God promised Abram many descendants and that he would inherit the land.  We are told that Abram believed God and that God credited him as righteous.  But we are going to see how Abram and Sarai decided that it was time to get moving on the promise for descendants and see what the results were.  Please read Genesis 16:1-6.

We don't know how long Abram waited after receiving the promise from God, but we do know that this part of his story came 10 years after he came back to Caanan.  He could have easily told Sarai that he wasn't going to take Hagar as his wife, but he chose to listen to Sarai's advice.  I cannot imagine how difficult it had to be for Abram to wait so long for a child and have a promise from God and see how you and your wife are getting too old to have children.  At this point in life, most people would consider it unthinkable to have children.  So, why not do it in a way that seemed more logical?  The problem is that wasn't what God's plan was.  Instead it created resentment and hurt for both Sarai and Hagar.

God doesn't need our help to do what He says He will do.  He may use us as a part of His plan, but He doesn't need us to make things work.  Maybe you have a dream that God has given you and you still do not see the beginning of the dream in sight.  Don't give up hope; be encouraged!  God's timing is so much better than ours and when we start trying to make things work out before God's timing we will just cause more problems for ourselves.  It is so hard to wait when you know God gave you a dream, but it is so worth waiting!  When we wait, we have the blessing to see God move in a way that we would have never imagined.  Psalm 37:7 says,  "Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act.  Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes."  Even when things don't seem to be going in the direction toward our dreams, we can still trust God's timing.  We are told to be patient and wait for Him to act because we know that He is greater than anything.

Does God have you waiting?  Be encouraged, He always keeps His promises!

This post is linked with Faith Filled Friday.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

What About the Details?

Genesis 15:8-21

Have you ever noticed the difference with how some people want information?  For example, when a birth announcement is made some people just want to know if it is a boy or a girl and some want to know the time of birth, weight, length, and full name.  Some people are detail oriented and others are not.  I personally like to have details.  When my husband is telling about his day, I will ask him a lot of questions.  My questions annoy him at times because he really didn't pay attention to what seemed like unimportant details.  For me, details give me a bigger picture and help me to better interpret what is happening.  I think Abraham was a detail person, because today we are going to be reading about a request for details regarding the promises God gave him; please read Genesis 15:8-21.

Just before this scene, God promised Abram more descendants than he could count and we are told that Abram believed God and God credited him as righteous because of his faith.  That is incredible!  Incredible that Abram was childless and  probably in his eighties by this point and he believed that it would happen.  Then right after that God promised that Abram would inherit the land that he was on.  The next thing we read is Abram questioning God.  The way the NLT interprets verse 8 is, “O Sovereign Lord, how can I be sure that I will actually possess it?”  The NIV words it similarly and this bothered me!  This is because it didn't seem like a strong belief or faith statement.  When I looked it up in the Hebrew, I saw that the word that is used is mah which can mean how or what.  It can also mean "by what means?"  So, in a sense, Abram may have been asking, "Can I know by what means this will happen?" or, "Can I know how this will happen?"  Another reason I am leaning this direction is because that is the way God answers this question.  God tells him how it is all going to happen - over 400 hundred years into the future.

To me, this is encouraging because it reminds us that it is okay to ask.  We may not get the answer we want, but it is okay to ask God for more details.  God was not frustrated with Abram's question so we see that asking for more information is not a weakness in faith.  Have you ever felt called to something or felt God lay something on your heart?  Has God given you a dream to work toward?  Have you ever wondered how it was going to happen?  Have you ever thought about asking God how?  Be encouraged and know that it is okay to ask!  Believing God and asking for details are two different things and it is okay to ask for details.  Just remember that God will only reveal to us what He feels is best for us.

Are you comfortable asking God your questions?

This post is linked with Thought Provoking Thursday and the Grace Cafe.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Chasing Vultures

Genesis 15:6-11

I have fond memories of the church my husband and I attended while we were in college.  Part of the reason is because we were married there the week after we graduated and spent the first three months of our marriage there before we moved away.  But another reason is because of how much the church drew us in and loved on us as very young adults.  During my sophomore year, the church was burned down by an arsonist and I witnessed how the church bonded together for the next two years to overcome many hurdles while building a new structure for the church.  We were told by the city that the lot we were on would no longer meet the new building codes for the size structure we needed because we would need more parking space.  The senior pastor felt God had shown him the property we were to build on but when he approached the owner he was not interested in selling.  In fact, when the pastor told him how much the church could pay for the property, the land owner laughed at him.  But our pastor didn't give up because he knew that was the property that God wanted for our church.  To make a long story short, the land owner eventually sold the property to the church for the original price the pastor offered him and he came to Christ in the process.  Often God gives us a dream and things don't seem to move in the direction we thought would take us to the fulfillment of the dream but we need to chase the fears away and keep trusting in God's promises.  Please read Genesis 15:6-11.

In these verses we read about God reminding Abram about His original promise of the land Abram was going to inherit.  Keep in mind that this was years after Abram originally heard the first call to leave his family and go to the land God would show him.  None of the promises God had given Abram about the land had been fulfilled yet and Abram even dealt with some obstacles toward that promise.  Not only that, the land was already claimed by many other kings.  But Abram obeyed God and did the next step that God had given him toward the promise - he sacrificed the animals that God wanted.  But notice verse 11; vultures came down to feed on the sacrifice.  Don't you find it interesting that God made sure that detail was put in the Bible?  It made me think because it seemed like a random detail to throw into the story when we were not given an incredibly detailed account of the process it took for Abram to get the animals.

Our dreams can be like that as well.  We can do what we feel is the next step that God wants us to take toward a dream He planted in our heart and still seem like we are facing obstacles.  We may have even made some sacrifices as an act of obedience to God and see some vultures swooping down to feed on the sacrifices.  Those vultures can be things like judgement and misunderstanding of others, or anything/anyone that can take away the joy of sacrificing to God.  But notice Abram's response to the vultures; he chased them away.  He didn't let them stay to feed on the sacrifice that was meant only for God.  That should be our response as well.  When we know that we are being obedient to what God asked of us we can just chase away the vultures that are trying to destroy our joy in giving to God.  Vultures are a fact of life; however, we don't have to accept their results in our lives and our dreams.  We have the power in the Name of Jesus to take hold of the vision God placed on our hearts and to tell the vultures to leave.  Jesus has authority over all things including doubt, fear, and insecurity.  Let's chase the vultures away from our sacrifice and dreams!

What vultures are trying to feed on your sacrifices?  Do you believe that Christ has authority over those vultures?

This post is linked with Word Filled Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Trust In Between

Genesis 15:1-6

There have been moments in my life that have propelled my faith because of the way God moved in my circumstances.  There have been times when I have seen immediate and direct answers to my prayers.  There are other times when I don't see immediate results and my faith is grown because I learn to trust God's judgment and what He knows is best for me.  There have been times when I have plateaued in my faith because I wasn't spending time in prayer and in the Bible.  And there have been times when I experienced a steady growth as a result of spending more time in prayer and in the Bible.  There is no specific formula to how our faith is grown and how fast it will grow; however, I can say with all confidence that the more we spend time with God and choosing to believe Him over the world the more our faith will grow.  As I have been reading through Genesis, I have touched at the beginning of Abraham's story in the Bible and I have already been amazed at the belief he had in God.  Today, I am looking at a pivotal moment in Abraham's walk with God; please read Genesis 15:1-6.

The first couple of words in this verse is "Some time later..."  Just to set the scene, the last thing we read was Abram's victory over Kedolaomer and his rescue of Lot.  He was blessed by Melchizedek and was told that his victory happened because God was working on his behalf.  This was a high point in Abraham's faith walk; I'm sure this moment was powerful in growing his already great faith.  We are not told about the time in between or how much time there was; we are just told that it was some time later.  Have you ever felt that in your faith walk?  Maybe you experienced a catharsis or a victory and then it is some time later before you have another amazing moment with God.  In fact, some times we find ourselves feeling stuck in our walk and begin to question if our victory was as amazing as it seemed at the time.  We begin to think that maybe what we experienced was more feeling than reality.  But it is important to remember that our understanding of God and His ways is very limited and that He does not do what we expect; God's ways are not our ways.  We can trust that God knows what is best for us and will give us what we need when we need it.

We read that even though it was some time later, God spoke to Abraham in a vision.  The thing we sometimes forget as we read through the Bible is the amount of time that happens in between the moments that we read about.  Abraham lived a long and full life, but we don't even begin to read about his life until he was in his seventies.  We humans get impatient, don't we?  We like to see instant results when God wants to see growth.  In this moment God promised protection, and Abraham asked God for a son to inherit the blessings God had promised.  Instead, God promised Abraham more descendants than he could count.  Think about that for a minute...Abraham asked for one son and God promised enough descendants to make a nation.  But the pivotal moment was the fact that Abraham believed God.  Abraham didn't just believe in God - he believed God.  This trust in God was huge because we are told in verse 6 that God counted him as righteous because of his faith.  As we continue to read Abraham's story, we will see that it will be a long time before we see the results of this promise.

Just because we don't see instant results doesn't mean that God abandoned us.  He knows the right time to roll out His plan and He also knows when we need encouragement.  We can trust that God will do what He says He will do even if it doesn't happen right away.  But our faith needs to be exactly this: not just belief in God, but a trust in God.

Do you need a little encouragement right now?  Do you need to trust God in His plans for you?

This post is linked with On Your Heart Tuesday and Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, May 21, 2012

To Give But Not Receive

Genesis 14:17-24

We live in a world that sometimes speaks the message of "take what you can."  This weekend, my church finished up a period in our church calendar that we call "Heart Check."  This is a time when we are challenged to check our hearts both as individuals and as a congregation to see if what is important to our hearts is what is important to God's heart.  This is a time for us to look at how love and justice is important to God and how we as a church could be used by God to help others.  We consider how we could give back to God what already belongs to Him to give above and beyond our tithe to help others in our immediate community, the City of Buffalo, and in the world.  It is an opportunity for all of us to see that God wants us to give out to others what we have been blessed with.  Today, we will read about an opportunity that Abram had to honor God in the way he gave; please read Genesis 14:17-24.

This is a moment that happened after Abram took 318 men into battle to rescue his nephew, Lot.  He attacked at night which confused and scared the enemy and he won.  He won back all the spoils the enemy had taken away after they defeated Sodom and Gomorrah.  When he returned, the King of Sodom came to thank him but the king of Salem also came.  We are told in these verses that he was a priest of the Most High God; the God of Abram.  The interesting thing is that Salem means peace in Hebrew, so he was the King of Peace.  Many Jewish scholars believe that Salem was Jerusalem.

An unusual thing happened.  Abram gave a tithe of ten percent to Melchizedek (King of Salem) but when the king of Sodom offered to let him keep all the spoils, Abram refused.  He wisely understood that if he had kept all the spoils, there would be animosity because others would claim that he became rich because of them.  He knew that it was so much better to give to God and trust God's provision than to "owe" anything to a human.  Instead, he chose to continue keeping peace by asking that some of the share would be given to his allies.  He understood that it truly was so much better to give than to receive.  Acts 20:35 says, "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"  It is so much better to give back to others than to receive wealth from others.

How does God want you to trust His provision?  How does God want you to give back?

This post is linked with Sharing His Beauty and Monday Musings.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Peacemakers

“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.”  James 3:17-18 (NLT).

James 3:17 tells us that godly wisdom loves peace.  The rest of the sentence actually sounds peaceful as well: gentle at all times and willing to yield to others.  I have heard peace to be criticized as weak; however, if you have truly worked to keep peace you know it is very hard work.  It is easier to fly off the handle or blow up at someone than it is to keep quiet, isn't it?  Being gentle when you are not being treated gently takes an ability beyond ourselves - it is evidence of God's work in our lives.  And being willing to yield to others is not being a push over, it is knowing how to pick your priorities and deciding if it is really worth having a war of words over the issue.  Chances are, it really isn't worth it and we are all far better off being willing to let go of the pride and yield to someone else.  Peace is a fruit everyone who loves Christ should produce, because it demonstrates the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives.  Look at the wonderful promise we are given for being a peacemaker: we will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.  

Are you a peacemaker?


One of the things I am looking forward to doing on some Saturdays is sharing links to some great posts I've read written by other bloggers.

Favorite Posts of the Week:

For great tips on cleaning (really...this has some GREAT ideas) read Angell's post:  Tips for those who hate cleaning and/or routines.

This post is linked with Spiritual Sundays.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Consider the Consequences

Genesis 14:1-16

War has serious consequences when you consider the loss of life of so many soldiers; however, there are often victims who were not involved in the battles.  Today, we are going to look at the first war that is mentioned in the Bible.  It is obvious by the way it is worded in the Bible that this is not the first time battles have been raged, it is just the first time that it has been mentioned.  All this week, I have explored how it is so important to seek God as we make decisions and yesterday I looked at Lot's decision to live among the cities of the Jordan River.  On the surface it looked like a good place because it was an area that would support his livestock and household; however, we are also told that the people in this area were very wicked.  Today we are going to look at the first major consequence that happened as a result of his choice to live there.  Please read Genesis 14:1-6.

In these verses we see that there were some kings in the region who were rebelling against King Kedorlaomer who they had been subject to.  Lot had chosen to live near Sodom and Gomorrah which were cities that were a part of this rebellion.  It is obvious reading in these verses the strength of King Kedorlaomer's army along with his allies because it seems that he conquered every city he encountered.  When it came for Sodom and Gomorrah's battle, they fled and many of them fell into tar pits.  As a result the cities were plundered and Lot and his household was taken captive.  When Abram found out, he began to mobilize his household to rescue Lot.

I don't know about you, but when I read that Abram had 318 trained men who were born into his household I was overwhelmed.  This gives us an idea of how vast his wealth was!  But even more amazing was the fact that with 318 men, he was able to overcome a combined army and get Lot back.  Lot's capture was a consequence of his decision to live there that would not have necessarily been predicted; however, if a rebellion was brewing there were probably some signs of a future battle.  There was probably talk among the people of combining forces agains King Kedorlaomer.  Notice the difference with Abram's choice to stay where he was at; he had peace with the people in the area.  There were no major rebellions, just some neighbors who wanted to live in peace with one another.

When we are making choices, we can look around and see the signs of wisdom of foolishness.  There are outcomes that we can never predict; however, we can save ourselves from a lot of problems if we just look at some of the circumstances surrounding our decisions.  For example, when looking for a job are we looking just at the pay and benefits or are we also looking at the overall work environment?  When we seek God and ask Him for wisdom, He can open our eyes about what to look for.  Setting our first priority on God will also cause us to learn and seek out what pleases Him which will also help us make better choices.  This will help us to consider the potential consequences.

Are you praying for wisdom when making decisions?  Are you seeking to live a life that has God's direction as your direction?

This post is linked with Faith Filled Friday.

You are invited to visit my post at Seeds of Faith Women.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Cities of the Plain

Genesis 13:10-18

There so many things in this life that can entice us as we are making choices.  So many of the choices we make involve a moral pull because this life is full of things that we shouldn't do.  We find ourselves in a position where we have to choose between living in a way that pleases God or in a way that pleases our desires.  Each and every day is full of little choices and every now and then a much larger choice comes our way that can have a huge effect on us in the future.  All this week I have been looking at the decisions and choices we make by studying the life of Abraham.  Yesterday, I looked at Abram's wisdom in choosing to trust God and allowing Lot to choose where he wanted to live.  Today, I want to look at Lot's decision.  Please read Genesis 13:10-18.

As Lot and Abram looked at the land around them and realized there was tension building between their herdsmen, Abram suggested that in order to preserve their relationship they should part ways peacefully.  As part of this truce, Abram let Lot have first choice of where he wanted to live to show that Abram cared more about their relationship than land.  As Lot looked around, he saw that the land near the Jordan River was beautiful and fertile.  It seemed to make perfect sense to go to the land that was well watered and thriving, so Lot chose to live in the land by the river near the city of Sodom.  There were some problems with that choice; notice what we are told in verse 13, "But the people of this area were extremely wicked and constantly sinned against the Lord." 

When we choose to go toward what entices us, there will be other sacrifices that we make.  Every choice has a sacrifice: we either sacrifice our relationship with God or we sacrifice our human desires.  This is why it is so important to prioritize the things in our life.  What sets your priorities?  Is growing your relationship with God the priority that sets all other priorities?  If we do not have God as our number one priority, we will always be struggling with making choices that do not please God but pleases ourselves.  When we do not have pleasing God as our first priority, we will find that we are sacrificing our relationship with Him in order to please our other desires.  Lot was not concerned with the lifestyle of where he was choosing to live and did not consider how that choice might affect him.  As we continue through the book of Genesis, we will see that this choice had some serious consequences with some being tragic.

What are the priorities in your life?  Does God determine all your other priorities?

This post is linked with Thought Provoking Thursday and the Grace Cafe.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Follow Humbly

Genesis 13

When we live in close proximity with someone, small and simple things can cause a big conflict.  I think of what I witnessed many times over when I was living in the dorms at college.  Two people would arrive to college their freshman year and sign up to be roommates.  Now, the dorms in college tend to be small - especially the rooms assigned to underclassmen.  At first as they configure how the space will look and how it will be shared and everything seems to go well; however, as the year goes on and the stress of classes build so does the tension between the roommates.  If the friendship is strong and stable, usually they can work out compromises and make it work.  But I have seen friendships almost come to an end from the close proximity.  Something that I also witnessed was how the friendship could be mended once they separated as roommates and had a little space between them.  The story I am looking at today is about Abram and Lot and how they kept the peace between themselves.  Please read Genesis 13 - it is a short chapter!

The first thing that is pointed out to us in this chapter is how wealthy both Abram and Lot are and how it was beginning to cause tension between their herdsmen.  Abram was very wise in how he handled this situation because he loved Lot and wanted to keep peace between them; however, he also saw that if they continued traveling together it was going to cause problems.  The Bible tells us that there was no way the land where they were was able to support both of them and all that they owned.  But Abram handled this problem in a way that allowed Lot to feel like he was gaining rather than losing.

Abram gave Lot the first choice of where he was going to go.  Abram probably knew that this meant that he may not get the choicest of land; however, it was worth keeping peace between him and Lot.  Lot chose the land that seemed to be the best because it was fertile and by the Jordan River.  I will not go into Lot's choice today - I plan on looking at that a little more tomorrow.  This meant that Abram could choose anywhere else to live.  I find Abram's decision in this difficult situation so amazing and humbling because God had already told Abram that he was going to inherit the land that he was at.  Notice that they had come back to the place that God had originally made that promise to Abram.  So, here is Abram at the very place he had built an altar to God when God gave gave him the promise of his inheritance.  I think it would have been really easy for Abram to put his foot down and tell Lot that God had promised all this land to him and that Lot would just have to find his own way.  Instead, Abram trusted that whatever God promised was in God's hands and God would fulfill the promise when the time was right.

Abram could have pushed and fought his way to his promise and done things on his own time, but instead he chose to allow humility to take over and trust God's timing.  Perhaps God has given you a vision or a dream but you see things moving in the opposite direction.  Take heart because when God is ready to fulfill His promises, nothing in this world can stop Him!  When we try to step in and take over the promises He said that He would do, we get ourselves into a big mess.  But when we allow God to unravel events for us, we find that we do so much better.  Proverbs 16:9 (NLT) says, "We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps."  It is so much better to allow the Lord to show us the next step than to plow through and try to figure things out our own way.

Do you trust the direction God gives to you?

This post is linked with iFellowship Blog Hop and Word-Filled Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Decisions, Decisions

Genesis 12:10-20

Do you ever hear a story and wonder what would have happened if people had done something different?  I have to admit there are times in my own life where I wonder what would have happened if I would have made a different choice.  That is because there were times when I made a critical decision that I hadn't really prayed about.  I look back at those times and wonder if I would have made the same choice had I prayed about it and asked for wisdom.  With certain situations, I have no doubt that I would have made a different decision and the outcome would have been better.  The story I am looking at today is one that makes me wonder what would have happened if Abraham responded to his situation differently.  Please read Genesis 12:10-20.

Due to a famine in Canaan, Abraham was forced to move to Egypt where they still had plenty of food and water.  As they approached Egypt, notice what Abraham asked Sarah to do - lie about who she was.  He asked her to tell the Egyptians that she was his sister rather than be honest and tell them she was his wife.  This was because he was afraid that the Egyptians would kill him so they could have Sarah who was very beautiful.  I want to stop here because there are a few things that stick out at me that convicts me.  First, God doesn't want us to lie.  Second, God wants us to trust in Him and His protection.

I want to be careful with what I am saying next because we need to remember that just because something isn't written in the Bible doesn't mean it didn't happen.  But, based on Abraham's decision I wonder if he prayed to God for wisdom on how to best handle his concerns about the Egyptians.  These verses do not indicate whether or not he prayed.  I just think that knowing how important truth is to God, I don't think that God would have directed Abraham to lie about who Sarah was.  It appears that Abraham wanted to fix the situation he was in on his own.  Instead, he ended up offending the Egyptians and got himself kicked out of the country.

I am convicted as I read this because I look at my own life and wonder how many times I have done the same. How many times have I looked at my situation with my human eyes and "fixed" it on my own before even allowing God to step into my problems.  Now I look at some of those "fixes" and I am still paying for them!  What would have happened if I would have prayed and asked God to help?  What would have happened if I would have asked for wisdom?  What would have happened if I would have trusted the truth that God knows what is best?  No matter how big or little the issue is, we can seek God for help.  The wonderful thing is that we also have God's grace.  Even though I am still facing consequences for decisions made years ago I know that as I seek God for wisdom and help now, He shows me what the next step should be.

Do you seek God as you make decisions?  Do you trust that He will help you no matter how impossible as situation make look?

This post is linked with On Your Heart Tuesday and Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Whatever It Takes

Genesis 12:1-9

Have you ever had to move away from your family or friends?  If you have, you understand how that can be hard because you are moving away from the people who you are comfortable with.  My husband and I have had our fair share of moving, and I can say that it is a process that brings mixed emotions.  It is exciting because it is full of new opportunities and experiences; however, it is heartbreaking to leave the people you love.  The last time we moved, I was also dreading knowing that those first few months would be a little lonely.  God had called my husband to a new church which meant that we would be instantly becoming part of another Christian community.  We wouldn't have to find a church home because that was the whole reason we were moving, but even with the instant infusion into a new community you still don't instantly make close friendships.  That always takes time.  Over the next several days, we will be looking at Abraham's life, where we will see how he chose to believe God's promises even though they may have seemed unimaginable and how he chose to follow God's direction.  Please read Genesis 12:1-9.

On Friday last week, I looked briefly at Abraham's family and how he was a direct descendant of Noah.  In fact, by the time Abraham was born there were probably enough people living from Seth's line to make a small city.  There are many more people who were born that were not mentioned in the Bible.  Consider the fact that when God called Abraham to leave his family, He was calling Abraham to leave his identity.  His community was his family and God was telling him to leave it and to go to an unknown land that God would show him.  But the story doesn't end there because Abraham chose to believe God's promises and follow Him.  When you consider how hard it would be for you to leave your family or the friends you love, this seems extreme doesn't it?

But Jesus told us something very similar when He encountered a rich man who wanted know how to inherit eternal life.  Last week, I explored the truth that when we believe and choose to follow Christ, we become a part of God's family.  We have the promise and hope of eternal life.  Jesus answered the rich man with a radical idea of letting go of everything and follow Him.  Then Jesus told His disciples in Luke 18:29-30, "'Yes,' Jesus replied, 'and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come.'"  I am not saying that God is going to tell everyone that they have to move, but how willing are we to let go of things we hold dear in order to follow Him completely?  Are we willing to do whatever it takes to follow Jesus?

What do you cling to that God is asking to you to give to Him so you can follow Him completely?

This post is linked with Sharing His Beauty and Monday Musings.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

For all you mothers who are out there in cyber-land, happy Mother's Day.  For those of you who are reading from other countries, today is a day where we take time to recognize our mothers and all that they have done for us.  This is a day where we let our mothers choose what the plans are for the day which could be relaxing (my choice) or working on a hobby, or even doing something active with the whole family.  Either way, it is an opportunity to tell our moms how much we appreciate all that they do for us.

Proverbs 31:30-31 (NLT) says, "Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise."  We are actually told in this proverb that we should offer praise for all the works our mothers have done.  I am blessed to have a mother that found it important that we were raised to believe in God.  Not just believe in God, but believe in the beautiful gift of salvation that was offered to us through Jesus.  For that, I am deeply grateful.  I am grateful that at a young age, I grew to know my Creator as my loving Father.  I am grateful that truth has shaped who I am today.  There is no greater gift a mother could give to her children than to lovingly teach them the truths found in the Bible.

If you have a mother, have you thanked her lately for the love she has given you?  Do you have a mother who raised you to know Jesus?

This post is linked with Spiritual Sundays.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Our Genealogy

Genesis 11:10-32

What is the story of your family?  Do you know anything about where your family is from?  I know that my great-grandfather was a farmer in Iowa, which is where my grandpa grew up.  He decided to move to the city and settled there.  He got married and had three children, with his youngest being my mom.  When someone in my grandpa's family paid someone to do a genealogy of his family, he found out that he was a distant (very distant) cousin of Henry Ford.  My grandma's (my mother's mom) side of the family had an expert trace our genealogy and traced us all the way back to Pocahontas.  I have no idea if that is correct, but it sure is interesting.  Each and every one of us could probably find someone famous in their family if we traced back far enough; some people don't have to go back very far.  Today, we are going to look at the family line that Abraham came from; please read Genesis 11:10-32.

I have to admit that I did the math and was amazed to find out that Shem was still alive when Abram (Abraham) was born!  I know that it doesn't seem all that interesting to most of you to look at the family line of Shem; however, I want you to consider how important this was to the Jews.  This was how they understood who they were and where they came from.  This was how they traced their story back to the beginning.  This also showed how they were part of the inheritance of God's promises.  That was very important.

But that makes me think about who we are and the family to which we belong.  We have our physical family that tells the world where we came from; however, when we are in Christ we learn that we are a part of a spiritual family that supersedes where we were born and who our physical family is.  We learn that it doesn't matter what we grew up to believe, it is what we learn to believe about who we are in the family of God.  Please read Galatians 3:23 - 4:7 to see how we are heirs to all the promises that God gave to Abraham's family.  I want to highlight a few verses found in this passage.  Galatians 3:26 says, "For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus."  When we believe that our salvation comes through Jesus, we become children of God.  Galatians 4:5 says, "God sent Him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that He could adopt us as his very own children."  Reading through these verses we see how we become heirs to the promises that were given to Abraham, which is amazing!  We need to always remember who we are in Christ rather than focus on who the world wants to tell us who we are.

Do you believe who you are in Christ?

This post is linked with Faith Filled Friday and State of the Heart.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

God's Plans

Genesis 11:1-9

I can appreciate people making plans.  In certain situations I think planning is essential; however, I have also learned that I can plan something and watch it fall apart.  I have also made plans and watched them be fulfilled.  I also have made plans and had God change my heart and make new plans.  When I was in high school, I knew I wanted to be a music therapist and made plans on how I could reach that goal.  I graduated from college with a Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy and began my career.  My original plan was to be a music therapist as a life-long career; however, God had a different plan.  When I was pregnant with my third child, my husband was called into ministry and we moved.  I quit working since I had three children three years old and under and had no idea that would change my career as I knew it.  I now am a pastor's wife who works as a ministry assistant at our church and I know that I am right where God wants me for now.  I think the key with making plans is asking God to reveal what His plans are so we can walk in step with Him.  Please read Genesis 11:1-9.

As I was reading these verses this morning, I noticed how a theme in this story was the fact that the people of the city of Babel were focused on making a name for themselves.  They did end up making it into the most popular book in the world, but not for the reasons they had set out and planned.  I can really relate to this because it seems that I am often fighting the human tendency to make a name for myself rather than focusing on what God wants me to do.  I don't need to worry about what accomplishments the world thinks is great because I have a Creator whom I should be pleasing.  But, every now and then I find myself slipping back into the trap of pleasing the desire for attention.

Proverbs 16:9 (NIV) says,  "We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps."  As we see in this story, our plans will never over-step God's plans.  Proverbs 16:1-3 (NLT) tells us what God is looking at, "We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives. Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed."  We can plan all we want and the end isn't what God is looking at; He is looking at our motives.  Why are we making the plans?  But we are also told in these verses that when we commit our plans to God, we will find success in those plans.  This is because we are giving our plans over to God and letting Him make the plans for us.  When our plans are God's plans they will succeed.

What is motivating you in life?  Do your plans match God's plans?

This post is linked with Thought Provoking Thursday and The Grace Cafe.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dignity and Respect

Genesis 9:18-29

We live in a culture where we enjoy making fun of people when they do something foolish.  Instead of ignoring the behavior, we post it on some type of media service so everyone can see it.  The age of media has grown and expanded so rapidly and we haven't quite figured out how to use it respectfully.  So many things are said on the internet through YouTube, vlogs, or blogs that we wouldn't necessarily say to someone directly; however, we just put it out there for the entire world to view.  That is an interesting thought, isn't it?  The idea of someone's dignity isn't considered when we put something out on the internet, but even though we are still grappling with new territory we need to remember that God wants us to love each other not ridicule each other.  Please read Genesis 9:18-29.

I know that this story may not seem all that big of a deal because Ham went and told his brothers that his father was lying in the tent naked; however, consider that there were bigger implications in this story.  It may seem mild compared to the fact that we hear stories on the news of people videoing someone in a similar situation and putting it on the internet.  But consider the deeper issue...respect.  Ham's reaction was one of immaturity and disrespect because it seems that he didn't go and tell his brothers so he could get help in restoring their father's dignity.  He was telling them just to tell them.  Shem and Japheth chose to cover their father so he maintain some dignity.  They chose to turn away so they were not looking at him and could not see him naked.

This can be convicting when you think about dignity and respect.  It makes me ask myself how often have I told someone something just for the sake of telling.  How many times have I pushed aside the consideration of someone else's dignity just so I could say something?  Our response should be more like Shem's and Japheth's and protect the dignity of others to show that we respect them.  This isn't about whether or not we are given the same respect in return; this is about how we are to respond to one another with love.  In John 15, Christ tells us that love is what He wants to see from us - love for Him and love for others.  In fact, the word love is mentioned ten times in this chapter!  This is the heart of Christ.

Do you love the people around you and protect their dignity?

This post is linked with iFellowship Blog Hop, Winsome Wednesday, and Word Filled Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Promises

Genesis 9:1-16

I love rainbows!  In fact, when it is raining I like to look out the window to see if there is any sunlight peeking through the clouds so I can find a rainbow.  I am willing to stand out in the rain if that means that I will get a glimpse of a rainbow.  One of the reason I enjoy them so much is because they are such a spontaneous show of creation.  We can be near the end of a storm and then we get blessed by such simple beauty.  Another reason why I enjoy rainbows so much is because of what they represent.  Please read Genesis 9:1-16 to see what God promised and how the rainbow represents that promise.

Noah and his family had finally gotten off the ark after the ground dried up.  Yesterday, I looked at how Noah's sacrifice was pleasing to God and that God had resolved that He would never again will kill all life with a flood. In these verses, we see that God spoke this promise to Noah and his family.  But He didn't just speak the promise, He told Noah that He was putting the rainbow in the sky to act as a sign of this promise or covenant with all living things.  When I think about that, it makes me wonder what it was like for Noah and his sons whenever they saw the rainbow.  I can't help but think that it caused them to be thankful for that promise.  I know whenever I see a rainbow, it reminds me how God always keeps His promises.

Not only does God always keep His promises, but we know that we are heirs to His promises through Christ.  Please look at what 2 Corinthians 1:19-22 (NLT) says about God's promises:
For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” He always does what he says. For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for His glory. It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and He has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything He has promised us.
How amazing it is to know that Jesus doesn't waver - He is God's ultimate "yes."  Isn't wonderful to know that He does everything He says He will do?  But there is more in these verses that brings me back to the rainbow.  God placed the rainbow in the sky as a sign of His covenant with all living things, but according to these verses He has something that is a sign of His promises we have in Christ.  We see that He put the Holy Spirit in our hearts that is a guarantee of His promise to us.  I love thinking about that!  Not only are those in Christ blessed to have the power of the Holy Spirit working in them, but He is also a sign of God's promise to us!  When we believe and accept the gift of forgiveness through Christ, we are given the Holy Spirit; it is like God placed a rainbow in our hearts.

Do you believe that through Christ, you have the Holy Spirit in you as a sign of God's promise?

This post is linked with On Your Heart Tuesday and Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Wonderful Results

Genesis 8:15-22

Last week, I spent a few days looking at the account of the flood and Noah's obedient response.  I looked at how Noah's obedience close walk with God is why he was considered righteous and it was also why God spared his life along with his family.  I also looked at the fact that the flood wasn't the end; God continued to think about Noah and dried up the earth for Noah and his family.  Today, I want to look at the response Noah had after the flood was dried up; please read Genesis 8:15-22.

God dried up the ground and allowed Noah and his family along with all of the animals to come out.  What was the first thing that Noah did?  He built an altar and offered a sacrifice to the Lord.  Notice the powerful response that God had to Noah's sacrifice.  He told Himself that He would never again destroy all living things.  That is a huge resolve given that He recognized that humans would continue to have every thought inclined toward evil from childhood.  How could Noah's sacrifice pleased God so much that such an incredible statement could be made?

I think James 5:16 gives us the answer:  "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results."  We are told that Noah was righteous in Genesis 6:9 and that he walked closely with God.  So, we can know that when he offered a sacrifice and prayed to God, there were powerful and wonderful results.  In Genesis 8, we can see that Noah's sacrifice pleased God greatly and I'm sure that was because of his righteousness.  We too, can have powerful prayers with wonderful results.  Romans 1:16-17 says, "For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, 'It is through faith that a righteous person has life.'"  When we have faith and believe that we forgiven through Christ's sacrifice on the cross and His victory over death in His resurrection we are also made right with God.  We too, can pray an earnest prayer with wonderful results because we have been made right with God.

Are you praying earnestly?

This post is linked with Sharing His Beauty and Monday Musings.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Peace Through Christ

Philippians 4:6-7

"Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."

I used to worry a lot. I pretty much worried about everything. If things were busy, I'd worry about whether or not I could handle it all.  If I had a test, I'd worry about getting a good grade - even if I knew all the material. When I had to play flute for a judge, I'd worry about dropping my flute in the middle of the piece even though I have never dropped my flute while playing it.  I worried about things even if things were going great.  I worried if I said the wrong thing.  You name it, I worried about it.  I'm sure there is someone out there that can relate to what I'm writing about!

But as I have grown closer to God, I have learned to let go of my worries.  I still have my moments of worry; however, it is not a constant flow and when the worry comes I have learned to pray.  For the last month at work, I have been consumed with planning a service event where we mobilize hundreds of volunteers into our community.  It all happens on one day, which was today.  As I began to find myself in the full onslaught of planning, I felt worry creeping up on me because I don't feel like it is really one of my strengths to plan events.  But then God reminded me that His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses and I am doing it for Him and with Him.  I began to pray differently each morning; I prayed that God would help me plan not with my strength, but with His.  I prayed that I would be able to be productive and focused with not my energy but His.  And as I prayed, I felt the worry slip away and given a peace that was beyond me.  That is only through Christ!

This post is linked with Spiritual Sundays.

Friday, May 4, 2012

God Remembers

Genesis 8:1-17

In the spring and summer of 1993, the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers had some of the worst flooding the region had ever seen.  I remember watching images on the news of houses almost entirely submerged in the flood and hearing of so many people in the vast region displaced from their homes.  It was devastating for so many people because many of them did not have flood insurance.  My mother and father in-law lived near a region that was part of the flood but not hit nearly as bad as other areas.  When we visited them, we saw the line the water left on the trees that had been partially covered by the water.  Just seeing how damaging that was for the residents in that area makes me think of how awful it must have been to witness the flooding of the entire earth.  Please read Genesis 8:1-17.

We can face situations in our life that can make us feel like we are in the middle of a flood.  Circumstances spiral out of our control regardless of what we try to do, yet the flood waters continue to rise.  The pressures of life can cause us to feel overwhelmed and in over our head; however, there is hope.  There is nothing that can separate us from God's love (Romans 8:37-39).  Genesis 8:1 says that God remembered Noah.  Think about that for a moment...God didn't just stick Noah and his family in the ark and forget about them.  God didn't forget about Noah.  Can you let that truth sink in?  The word translated as remembered is the Hebrew word, zakar.  This word is pretty basic in its definition - to remember; however, one of the definitions made me smile because it also means to be thought of (see footnote 1).

Noah isn't the only person that God remembers or thinks about.  God thinks of you; He remembers you.  Even when the flood waters are rising in a way and you cannot seem to find God in the situation, He remembers you.  The flood will not last forever because we are promised that we have victory in Christ.  Romans 8:35, 37 says, "Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?...No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us."  No matter what is happening to you, God always remembers you and thinks about you.  He cares for you.  Read through Psalm 139 to know how God feels about you.

Do you believe that you are in God's thoughts?

This post is linked with Faith Filled Friday.

1. Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for zakar (Strong's 2142)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2012. 4 May 2012. < http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H2142&t=NLT >

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Don't Be A Fossil

Genesis 7

A few years ago, my mom treated my family to a two week vacation in Arizona.  In two weeks, we put 3,000 miles on the rental mini-van just in the state of Arizona!  My step-dad has lived in Arizona all his life and he wanted us to see as much as we could of the state he loves.  One place we went to visit was the Petrified Forest National Park, where we saw fossilized trees in the middle of the Painted Desert.  The guides at the park couldn't give an exact reason for the trees to become petrified except that there had to be some kind of catastrophic flood where the waters came through the area with incredible force.  Ever since then, I always think of that place in the middle of nowhere when I read through the account of the flood.  Please read through Genesis 7.

As I wrote yesterday about the importance of obedience, I was struck again this morning by the sentence found in verse 5, "So Noah did everything as the LORD commanded him."  That is quite a statement!  But then as I continued to read I noticed that verse 6 tells us that Noah was 600 years old when the flood came.  Six hundred years old!  That is very humbling, isn't it?  I know that God shortened our life so we age differently than Noah aged; however, at 600 years, he had to be feeling his age!  But when God told him to build this massive ark (with no help from technology) he didn't say "I'm getting too old for this kind of work."  When God told him to get in the ark after gathering all the animals, Noah didn't say, "That is too much work for me and my family."  We are told that at the age of 600 years old that he did everything that God commanded of him.

Have you ever noticed that we humans like to use age as a reason for protest to do what is asked of us?  We are either to young to accomplish something or we are getting to old to have the energy to do it.  There seems to be a small window of a few years in our human existence where we can be wise enough and have enough energy to do the work that God has given us.  But God doesn't care about age.  God also doesn't care about years of experience.  If God has told us what we are to do, we have to trust that God has given us everything we need to do it.  2 Peter 1:3 says, "By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the One who called us to Himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence."  Yesterday, I wrote how we learn how to obey in our hearts as we get closer to God and this verse tells us that we received everything we need to obey God by getting closer to Him.  We can live this life the way God wants us to live no matter how old we are or what stage in life we are at because it is not by our power, it is by God's divine power!

Are you willing to tap into the power God has in store for you to live out this life His way?

This post is linked with Thought Provoking Thursday.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Live It Out

Genesis 6:9-22

What does the word obedience mean to you?  For those of you who are parents or teachers, what does obedience mean to your children or students?  When you obey, do you obey because you fear the consequences of disobedience or do you obey because you respect the person giving the instruction?  Yesterday, I wrote about the first part of Genesis 6 looking at how the world was so full of evil that God decided that He was going to destroy all living things on the earth.  But then Noah found favor with God.  Today, I want to look at why Noah found favor with God.  Please read Genesis 6:9-22.

Verse 9 tells us, "Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God."  The first part of Genesis 6 tells us that every other person on the earth had thoughts and desires that were constantly evil.  Noah was the only one who was blameless and walked closely with God.  How difficult do you think it was to live a life that was blameless when everyone around you was fulfilling their evil desires?  How much pressure do you think Noah faced when he was constantly making decisions that would honor God rather than the desires of the world?  How did he do that?

I think it was because of his close relationship he had with God.  When you are walking closely with God, you are focused more on God's desires and the matters close to His heart than the desires of the world.  I know that the more time I have spent in the Bible and prayer, the more I crave time in the Bible and prayer.  I can also testify that the more time I spend praying and studying the Bible, the more I understand what is important to God.  I understand more of how He wants me to live.  I believe the more we strive to grow close to God, the more we will be able to obey God because we want to please Him.

There was one more thing that I noticed while reading through these verses:  "So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him."  We see why God viewed Noah as righteous; he did everything God told him to do.  James 2 talks about the importance of living out our faith through obedience.  James wrote that faith in God isn't enough if we are not obeying God because we show our faith by the way we live.  James 2:24 says, "So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone."  When we believe that God is who He says He is, it will change the way we live no matter what the world around is telling us.

How is your faith being lived out?

This post is linked with iFellowship Blog Hop, Winsome Wednesday, and Word Filled Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"But the Church..."

Genesis 6:1-8

There are so many hurts in this world, it is hard to imagine that it could have been worse at one time.  When we take a good look at our culture and see so much pain and so much evil, it is actually scary to think that it can be worse.  I remember growing up hearing my parents say that they didn't have so much pressure bombarding them and now I watch my kids go to school with more things to worry about than I had to deal with.  It is so sad to see the oppression that some people live in around the world, and to see gangs and drugs assault our children.  But there was a time when it was even worse; please read Genesis 6:1-8.

Verse 5 tells us how bad things were at the time of Noah, "The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and He saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil."  As bad as things look here, we can look around and know that not every thought was consistently and totally evil.  We certainly see some evil and despicable things in this world such as human trafficking, but we still see many people who care about others and make personal sacrifices to help meet the needs of the vulnerable.  There are many people who have given up their comfort to bring comfort to those who are suffering from AIDS in Africa or for the lepers in India.  So, even though we have more means to spread evil, our world today does not match the world of Noah.

I want you to notice verse 8, because we see that not every single person on the earth was evil.  "But Noah found favor with the Lord."  That is a big statement when we see in the verses preceding this verse that God was sorry He ever created all of this and His heart was broken.  That is how the church can be today.  While God can look down at the earth now and see so much evil, He can also see the church.  I think of how verse 8 says, "But Noah..."  What if the church worked in such a way that God would say, "But the church..."  In many ways the church is working and doing great deeds around the world and the church is providing relief to those who are most vulnerable, but there is so much more that needs to be done.  What if the church was willing to give up its comfort to give to those who have nothing to give?  What if the church rallied with one another and spoke against the injustices of the world?  What if the church fell to its knees around the world and prayed for our leaders?  We are the body of Christ, the light of the world.

In what ways can we make the statement, "But the church...?"

This post is linked with On Your Heart Tuesday.