Monthly Archives: December 2012

Lessons To Learn

The story of Abraham is written about in several sections of the New Testament.  Abraham’s life encourages us. Speaking of Abraham, God says about Abraham’s righteousness in Romans 4:

Romans 4:23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

Abraham was called by God in Genesis as an important aspect of the Christ line.  In Genesis 3:15, the seed of this line was first prophesied about.  The word ‘seed’ is used quite often in the book of Genesis  and is a theme throughout Genesis.  God watched over the line of the promised seed.

Romans 4:16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,

Abraham is a father figure to all (both Judean and Gentile) who believe. God said in Genesis 3:15 that there would be an enmity; a battle between good and evil. Abraham had to deal with this enmity throughout his life. He was constantly faced with challenges to God’s promises. He dealt with famine, perils, pressures, and adversity of all sorts.  He made mistakes and tried to accomplish God’s promises on his own. The battle of good and evil continues throughout the Bible in the tension between senses faith versus spiritual faith, works versus grace. (See Galatians 4:22-31)

 Patriarchs
Bullinger’s Appendixes Link

God’s promises encouraged him and he stayed the course. Abraham’s life is full of lessons. The greatest lessons we can learn are not from judging Abraham as there is a lot that we may not understand. However, if we read in the New Testament as to what God wants us to learn from his life, it will encourage us to believe God’s promises in this amazing grace administration.

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A Shur Wilderness: The Mall

Last night I had to run out to mall to change a gift I was giving to someone. So on December 23rd at 4:30 in the afternoon, I ventured out to one of the busiest malls in the country. There was a sea of cars everywhere. The streets that led into the perimeter of the shopping center were extremely backed up.

If Abraham could get across the desert, I could certainly do this! It did turn out to be an amazing journey! I drove up to the store, headed right into an empty parking space waiting for me, got in and out of the store and home in about a half hour! I also met and talked with a very nice salesperson. When I walked out of the store, I saw someone just sitting in the middle of the road of the parking lot, unable to decide where to go for a spot. It was so hectic. The car driver had a frazzled look so I yelled out to him, “Follow me!” Then I waited until he turned in the right direction and led him to my spot. It was actually a fun experience!

My husband was shocked that I was home. He had decided to make dinner thinking I would be be suffering from sojourn fatigue. He had it prepared up to the cooking part and was just putting it in the fridge thinking he would be cooking it later when I walked in! We both marveled. What looked like the Wilderness of Shur going forward into the errand at the beginning, turned out to be a promised land celebration at the end.

christart.com

This time of the year is so wild. I’m not sure Christ wants to be associated with this holiday, so I am not getting too upset about the ‘war on Christmas’. It is one less thing to worry about. God’s love is year round and He is the ultimate giver. The story of Christ is about wholeness (salvation) in our hearts; it transcends holiday trees, mistletoe, holly wreathes, and Santa Claus.

What a privilege it must have been for the magi to meet the child Jesus. They were from Persia and and traveled far to honor Jesus as a king.

Matthew 2:1-2 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Judeans? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

The magi were probably followers of Zorastrian teachings of the east. They were not Judeans and yet when they got to Jerusalem looking for the child, the people who should have been in the know about the birth of Christ were not aware of it. Actually, only two groups of people actually knew of the birth of Jesus: the shepherds from the fields and the magi who trekked over desert and mountains to pay respect to a King.

There were people around the Roman Empire at that time who celebrated ‘Saturnalia’. It was a winter solstice pagan festival. It was from this culture that holiday trees, raucous celebrating and gift giving as a ritual came from when Christians reached out to the culture in the first century. Hence the evolution of the holiday season.

If you are traveling this season somewhere to be with loved ones or simply staying at home, we can truly rejoice that our path is lit up and plain with a light that not seasonal.  It is the light held up by Jesus Christ because he is the way, the truth and the star by which we can look to handle any desert or mountain in life and even a trip to the mall!  Romans 10:9 and 10 is a good place to park.

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Sojourning In Grace

As I read through my last blog post, I began to think of how evil tries to put a damper on good. Throughout Abraham’s journeys, many blockades were thrown up to Abraham7get in the way of God’s promises. At times he was surrounded by idolaters. He could have been influenced by them.

Joshua 24:2 And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood (the river Euphrates) in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.

These gods could have become his gods just as the influences and images around us today can pull us into their snare. We are surrounded by attitudes, popular objects and fads as well as people, causes, world opinions and many other distracting addicting diversions.  We can be effected in two ways.

First we can be drawn in by them as they take up more and more of our time. If an ideological spin is repeated often enough, it starts to take on authenticity. Lines drawn around truth start to blur and lose importance and suddenly everything dims and becomes mundane.

On the other hand, we can be repulsed by them in an irritating way. This also takes away valuable time in our lives. We can get caught up with indignation and lofty judgements that do us anything but good. Sometimes we just need to pray and walk away and leave it at that.

Genesis12:1 Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

Life involves a series of steps. Sometimes we have to deal with hard stuff. Not every step is surefooted and sometimes we lose our balance, but if our trending is toward the right direction we end up in the right place. In Romans 4 we can see that Abraham ended in the right place in his life despite some frustrations, passage of time, missteps, impatience and misjudgments.

Romans 4:19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb: 20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; 21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. 22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;

The story of Abraham is more about what God did for Abraham than what Abraham did for God. His life is an example for us, that is why Abraham’s life is recorded. The lesson learned from  his life will always be that God is  our hero.

*note God changed Abrams name to Abraham by adding the 5th letter of the Hebrew alphabet to be the 5th letter of his name. Sarai’s name was changed to Sarah in the same way.  The number 5 in the Bible represents grace!

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Habakkuk in a Crazy World

Sometimes things going on in the world really throw us for a loop. If you haven’t experienced this Hindlately; turn on the news for one second. Things are insane.   In an effort to understand the current state of affairs, it is great to rely on God for answers.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly (Link) unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Thayer (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament) defines boldy as: freedom in speaking, unreservedness in speech openly, frankly, i.e without concealment,without ambiguity or circumlocution, without the use of figures and comparisons, free and fearless confidence, cheerful courage, boldness, assurance.

A friend of mine is a personal study on the book of Habakkuk (It’s a small sliver of a book in the old testament that hardly anybody reads or talks about). He shared with me some of it’s greatness and its application to life. I decided to take a look at it.

A lot of scholars don’t even really know anything about this guy because not much is written about him elsewhere, but he is the one who wrote ‘the just shall live by believing’ first. (Later on this phrase appears in Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:38) His honest, open and respectful heart to God in the first 4 verses is such a great example of Hebrews 4:16:

Habakkuk 1:1The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see. O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out (complaint- not just for himself but all who have to put up with the evil going on around them) unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!Why dost thou shew me iniquity (ugh!), and cause me to behold grievance? (injustice) for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention.Therefore the law is slacked (numbed), and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.

Habakkuk is a great read if you have questions about the crazy world! God listens and answers and at the end of the book Habakkuk says:

3:18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord (Yahweh God in relationship with man), I will joy in the God (Elohim- mighty God) of my salvation. 19 The Lord God (Yahweh, Adonai- God as overlord) is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. 

God is our sure-footedness in these strange and mind-numbing times. His Word elevates us to the high places of wholeness and we can certainly rejoice and benefit from our mountaintop view!

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