Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Not One Kind Worxd

Not One Kind Word
Now Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day he gave Joseph a special gift—a beautiful robe. But his brothers hated Joseph because of their father’s partiality. They couldn’t say a kind word to him. (Genesis 37:3-4 NLT)
“Not one kind word!” Can you imagine an individual who wouldn’t say even one kind word to someone? I can understand sibling rivalry, but how can you go through your daily activities and not say one kind word? How does one react when he comes in contact with the other person? Does he scowl at them? Are nasty words thrown their way? What a terrible way to live one’s life; yet that’s the feeling I get when I read of the actions of Joseph’s brothers.
   Unfortunately, they aren’t the only ones that acted in such a manner. Take for instance the actions of Cain whose sacrificial offering was rejected by God, and killed his brother in a fit of rage. Then there was Esau who lost both his birthright and blessings to his brother Jacob and said, “When my father dies I am going to kill my brother Jacob.” King Saul became jealous of David and tried on more than one occasion to kill him with a spear. He even turned against his own son Jonathan because Jonathan loved David. He certainly didn’t have any kind words to say to David. The children of Israel didn’t have any kind words to say to Moses during the wilderness wanderings, and wanted to kill him and go back to Egypt.
   A number of years ago I knew two brothers who worked together at the Shell station on Ashby road in St. Ann and they never talked to each other. What brought that on I do not know, but whatever it was it resulted in a deep bitterness between them. Their attitudes toward each other eventually affected customer relations and both of them had to quit their jobs.
   What a tragedy it would be to go through life without saying one kind word to someone! Jesus was persecuted, harassed, oppressed by religious leaders and yet he showed compassion and kindness. A ready smile will go a long ways in helping people see Jesus in you.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to display a Jesus smile to every person I meet today.  

Friday, July 17, 2015

A Time of Crisis

A Time of Crisis
At dawn the next morning the angels became insistent. “Hurry,” they said to Lot. “Take your wife and two daughters who are here. Get out of here right now, or you will be caught in the destruction of the city.” (Genesis 19:15 NLT)
People react in different ways when faced with a “time of crisis.” Take the case of Abraham and his nephew Lot. Both of these family members are declared in the Scriptures to be “righteous;” yet they both acted differently when a time of crisis came into their lives.
   God, in the person of his pre-incarnate son Jesus Christ, confided in his faithful servant Abraham that catastrophic judgment was coming upon Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham was visibly upset. He was in a desperation mode. Why? Because he had family members living in Sodom who were about to be destroyed.
   As you read through Genesis chapter 18 take notice of what he doesn’t do. We don’t see him wringing his hands. No stomping of feet! No blaming of anyone!  Instead, he turned to the Lord and boldly engaged in a plea of mercy for the innocent. Abraham’s faith was rewarded by God who agreed to spare the city of Sodom if ten innocent people could be found.
   On the other hand, we see how Lot dealt with this “Time of Crisis.” When the crisis came and the men of the city demanded that the two men be brought out for their sexual pleasure, Lot made a feeble attempt to sway them, then offered his own daughters in exchange for the men. His actions and behavior are not what you would expect from a righteous man. To top it all off when the angels insisted that they leave immediately Lot “hesitated.” (Gen. 19:16a)
   How do we react in a time of crisis? Do we rant and rail against God? Do we point the finger at God and blame him? Or do we react like Abraham and turn to the Lord and plea for mercy. Hebrews 4:16 tells us to “come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us where we need it.” (NLT)

Prayer: Dear Lord, you are merciful God and I am thankful that I belong to you. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Living in His Presence

Living His Presence
“Then I bowed my head and worshipped the Lord. I praised the God of my master, Abraham, because he had led me along the right path to find a wife from the family of my master’s relatives.” (Genesis 24:48)
Great men of faith knew what it meant to live each day in the presence of the Lord. Men such as Hudson Taylor, George Mueller, David Brainerd, Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, D. L. Moody, George Whitefield, and Billy Graham—the list is endless, spent countless hours before the throne of grace in prayer and meditation.
   While secular men and women use such words and phrases like “Get busy!” “Hurry up!” “Make it happen!” “Get up to speed!” people of faith operate on a different plane. From their lips you hear words like “Ask,” “Seek,” “Knock,” “Wait,” “Trust,” “Lead me and guide me.”
   A great example of a lifestyle that utilized words of faith was Eliezer, the servant of Abraham. He took an oath to “seek” a wife for Isaac, Abraham’s son, among the relatives living in northwestern Mesopotamia. It was a long and arduous journey over dangerous terrain. At last, Eliezer arrived at a well and bowed his head and prayed, “O Lord, God of my master, give me success and show kindness to my master, Abraham. Help me to accomplish the purpose of my journey.” (Gen. 24:12)
   He uttered a specific prayer and God answered in a specific manner. No sooner had he finished praying when a young maiden came to draw water. Eliezer had prayed that the one who offered him a drink and also gave water to his camels would be the one God had chosen. Sure enough that is exactly what happened. Eliezer offered a prayer of thanksgiving by saying, “The Lord has been so kind and faithful to Abraham, for he had led me straight to my master’s relatives.” (Gen. 24:27b)
   As you go about your daily activities slow down and live in the presence of the Lord by using words of faith like that of Eliezer and other great men of faith.

Prayer: Dear Lord, may I put into practice the prayer of faith, “ask and you shall receive that your joy may be full.”

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Lord Will Provide

The Lord Will Provide
Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a bush. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering on the altar in place of his son. Abraham named the place “The Lord will provide”—Jehovah Jireh.                (Gen. 22:13-14NLT)
Abraham and his son, Isaac, along with two servants and all their supplies left early one morning for a distant mountain to offer a sacrifice in worship of the LORD. As the two of them went on together, Isaac said, “Father?” “Yes, my son,” Abraham replied. “We have the wood and the fire,” said the boy, “but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?” “God will provide a lamb my son,” Abraham answered. And they both went on together. (Gen. 22:6b-8 NLT)
   I remember my first mission trip to Peru with Wycliffe Associates. We formed a team and took all the supplies we would need to minister to the children of Bible translators for a week while they participated in their annual conference. Like Abraham and his son, Isaac, it was a venture of faith.
   Abraham’s experience was such an example of faith that it recorded for all to see by the writer of the book of Hebrews, “It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promise, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, though God had promised him, ‘Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.’” (Heb. 11:17-18 NLT)
   God often uses trials to test our faith. Not as a means of discovering if have faith, but rather to strengthen it. We are told in James 1:2-3, “Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” Faith that is not tested is not real faith.
   Like Abraham, when our faith is tested we are assured that “The Lord will provide.”

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me be like your servant Abraham and trust you in the midst of testing and trial.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

No Rivals

No Rivals
Later on God tested Abraham’s faith and obedience. “Abraham!” God called. “Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.” “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will point out to you.”(Gen. 22:1-2 NLT)
What a shocker! God, you can’t be serious! Am I hearing you correctly? You must be making a mistake. Let me get this straight. You’re asking me to give back to you the son that I have longed for all my life. What about the promise? The covenant?  The descendants?  Do you realize what this means?
   These could have been the thoughts of Abraham. If we had been in the same situation, they might have been ours. Did Abraham balk at this command? Did he shy away from his duty? Did he try to rationalize a way out of the situation? NO! What did he do?
   The Scripture tells us that he began to prepare for the journey. Early the next morning, he saddled his donkey, gathered some wood for the fire, took his son Isaac, and two of his servants and off they went to Mount Moriah.
   Has God ever given you a task that seemed to go against everything you believed? Perhaps it was something that made no sense to you and human wisdom said it was impossible to achieve. It may be that God was testing your faith as he was with Abraham. How did you respond?
   The scene of Abraham and his son walking toward Mt. Moriah is a blunt and sobering truth. It teaches us that God will have “no rivals.” He must possess our heart, soul, and mind (will). (Matt. 22:37) If we do not treasure or love God in all three areas, then God will demonstrate like he did with Abraham that he is all we need by making sure that he is all we have.
   Ironically, it is when we are faced with a seemingly impossible task that we discover that God is what we hunger for most, and our relationship with him is the only thing that will satisfy.

Prayer: Dear Lord, you are all that I need, and I want no rivals to come between us.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Friendly Negotiations

Friendly Negotiations
Abraham approached him and said, “Will you destroy both innocent and guilty alike?” “Surely you wouldn’t do such a thing, destroying the innocent with the guilty. Why, you would be treating the innocent and the guilty exactly the same! Surely you wouldn’t do that! Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?” (Genesis 18:23 and 25 NLT)
Abraham is one of the most courageous persons that I am acquainted with in the Bible. To engage in face to face negotiations with the Creator of the universe and come away with what we humans might consider the “winning edge” is in itself a remarkable feat. God was determined to destroy everyone in Sodom and Gomorrah because of their wickedness. Abraham started at fifty righteous even though he knew in his heart that there weren’t that many righteous in Sodom. The negotiations got down to ten. Apparently Abraham was confident that ten righteous could be found.
   Why was God willing to negotiate with Abraham? Why did he even decide to tell Abraham what his plans were for Sodom and Gomorrah? To put it simply—Abraham was the “friend of God.” They talked face to face on more than one occasion. I’m also sure that God had a deep and abiding compassion for Abraham’s nephew Lot who the Bible describes as a righteous man. (2 Peter l 2:7)
   Abraham recognized that the person he was speaking with was the LORD. In his negotiations Abraham exhibited deep respect and reverence. He took the position of a humble servant, but at the same time spoke boldly. He called upon the LORD to exercise compassion, mercy, justice, and righteousness. Only a personal friend with deep roots of faith could freely speak as Abraham did.
   Abraham’s entire conversation revealed his concern for his nephew Lot and his family. He knew there were severe consequences for sin, but didn’t want to see the righteous suffer with the unrighteous.
   How do we respond to the Lord when we see evil unfolding all around us? Do we plead for their salvation? Are we really burdened for the lost and dying?

Prayer: Dear Lord, give me a love for those who are lost in sin.