Monday, February 27, 2006

Genesis Study

Genesis 15 - God's Covenant w/ Abram

v 15.1
So, after Abram's victory over the four kings and his generosity to Melchizedek, the word of the Lord came to him. "Do not be afraid, Abram." The Lord is assuring Abram that after such a defeat he would not have to be afraid of the retaliation of his enemies. The Lord would protect him, "I am your shield," He says. God comforts Abram, declaring Himself to be personally responsible to defend Abram. *However, a shield is only effective if it is clung to tightly. So, Abram has held tightly to the Lord. And just in case Abram thought that what he had received as a reward from this battle was great - not only the spoils, but the great name- the Lord reminds him that He is his "very great reward." Not only is the Lord the giver of the reward, but He is the reward itself. And how great a reward!

v 15.2-6
Abram is still worried about not having an heir. He tells God that his only option is to give his estate to Eliezar of Damascus, one of his household. Abram accounts his childlessness to God saying "You have given me no children;" and decides that he will take the matter into his own hands. He we see again that Abram believes the Lord and desires to follow Him, but he feels he must help God out. How often do we hear from the Lord and then make our own assumptions about how to go about the task which God desires of us? I know I am guilty. But the Lord is gracious with us. He does not rebuke Abram, but corrects his thinking. He takes him to look at the stars, "count them" if you can. Look at what great things I have done, Abram. Do you not think I have greater plans that you can come up with? The same way you can not fathom the possible number of stars in the heavens, so you can not fathom the ways I will work in your life. How often do we forget the great works of the Lord? He sends a reminder every morning and every evening as the sun rises and sets, and somehow in between we forget. "So shall your offspring be." Can you imagine how wide-eyed Abram must have become at such a declaration? If the Lord made a sky like that, surely he can do anything. "Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness." Abram put his faith in God, and God counted it as righteousness. It wasn't by his deeds, but by his faith. If not even Abram's deeds can save him, how much less our own offering of deeds. The Lord wants our faith.

v 15.7-11
Next God gives Abram the promise of land. Since his faith has been strengthened, Abram does not question this promise. It only makes sense that if we have the promise of the seed, we have the promise of the land. When we have Christ, we naturally believe the promise of Heaven. The Lord explains His earlier actions, they did have purpose. "I… brought you out of Ur … to give you this land…" There are many times that we won't see the purpose of God's plan until the purpose is at hand. We must use past acknowledgements of God's plans as assurance of purpose for current situations. Abram then asks God for a sign. He is starting to realize his own faults - doing things his way when he becomes fearful - and asks God to provide reassurance for the time when his faith might waver. Have you ever asked God for a sign? Use this example as a test next time you ask for a sign. We are not to ask for signs as 'proof' of God's truth. Abram didn't say, "I don't believe you unless you show me a sign." Abram believed the Lord, and asked Him for a sign to reassure his faith. Signs follow those who believe. God was not disappointed in Abram for asking such a request. "With prayer and petition make your requests known unto God." (Phil. 4.6) When we ask of our Father earnestly, we will receive.
So the Lord answers Abram's request. He asks Abram to prepare a sacrifice. The cattle were at least 3 years old so they would be at their strongest. God only wants the best. We have no recorded specific instructions, most likely because Abram was knowledgeable as to the proper preparations. Cutting the animals in half was customary of sacrifices that were to confirm covenants (Jer. 34:18,19). It seems much time had passed, for birds tried to eat the sacrifices. Abram was sure to shoo them away. Are we as careful as Abram when it comes to our spiritual sacrifices? Do we keep close watch so that nothing disturbs them until the Lord has approved of them?

v 15.12-16
Abram had to wait all day for God to answer him. We know that it was early morning when he first asked about the sign because God had just shown him the stars. And now, we have the setting sun. Many times God will keep us waiting to strengthen our faith, for we don't know how long we will have to wait, but we do know the answer will come. Suddenly Abram was in a deep sleep. One much like that of Adam. We must keep in mind that God put him in this sleep so that the natural world would not be a distraction. A horrible darkness came upon him. Many times God's people, though we are children of light, walk in dark places. God puts us through the bad, so we might understand the greatness of the good. God tells Abram that his seed will suffer before finally settling in the promised land, and God will judge those who cause the suffering of His people. However, Abram would be peacefully buried. He would die still a stranger in the land. But this also spares him the pain of enduring the suffering along with the rest. Many times God takes away from suffering those who are highly favored.

v 15.17-21
And now, a departing word from John Wesley. "When the sun was gone down the sign was given - The smoaking furnace signified the affliction of his seed in Egypt: they were there in the furnace of affliction, and labouring in the very fire. They were there in the smoke, their eyes darkened that they could not see to the end of their troubles. 2. The burning lamp speaks comfort in this affliction; and this God shewed Abram at the same time with the smoaking furnace. The lamp notes direction in the smoke; God's word was their lamp, a light shining in a dark place. Perhaps too this burning lamp prefigured the pillar of a cloud and fire which led them out of Egypt. 3. The passing of these between the pieces was the confirming of the covenant God now made with him. It is probable this furnace and lamp, which passed between the pieces, burned and consumed them, and so compleated the sacrifice, and testified God's acceptance of it, as of Gideon's, Jdg_6:21, Manoah's, Jdg_13:19-20, and Solomon's, 2Ch_7:1. So it intimates, That God's covenants with man are made by sacrifice, Psa_50:5, by Christ, the great sacrifice. God's acceptance of our spiritual sacrifices is a token for good, and an earnest of farther favours. " [John Wesley]

Sunday, February 26, 2006

A word from my man Charlie.

Behold, if the leprosy have covered all his flesh, he shall pronounce him clean that hath the plague. - Lev. 13:13

Strange enough this regulation appears, yet there was wisdom in it, for the throwing out of the disease proved that the constitution was sound. This evening it may be well for us to see the typical teaching of so singular a rule. We, too, are lepers, and may read the law of the leper as applicable to ourselves. When a man sees himself to be altogether lost and ruined, covered all over with the defilement of sin, and in no part free from pollution; when he disclaims all righteousness of his own, and pleads guilty before the Lord, then he is clean through the blood of Jesus, and the grace of God. Hidden, unfelt, unconfessed iniquity is the true leprosy; but when sin is seen and felt, it has received its deathblow, and the Lord looks with eyes of mercy upon the soul afflicted with it. Nothing is more deadly than self-righteousness, or more hopeful than contrition. We must confess that we are nothing else but sin, for no confession short of this will be the whole truth; and if the Holy Spirit be at work with us, convincing us of sin, there will be no difficulty about making such an acknowledgment -it will spring spontaneously from our lips. What comfort does the text afford to truly awakened sinners: the very circumstance which so grievously discouraged them is here turned into a sign and symptom of a hopeful state! Stripping comes before clothing; digging out the foundation is the first thing in building-and a thorough sense of sin is one of the earliest works of grace in the heart. O thou poor leprous sinner, utterly destitute of a sound spot, take heart from the text, and come as thou art to Jesus

-For let our debts be what they may, however great or small,
As soon as we have nought to pay, our Lord forgives us all.
Tis perfect poverty alone that sets the soul at large:
While we can call one mite our own, we have no full discharge.

[Charles Spurgeon]

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Love's confusing but it never gets dull.

Over the last few months I've been discovering a whole new Love. I've loved God since I first discovered my need for Him when I was much younger. It was a love that was a response to His first loving me when He died for me. It is a beautiful love, don't get me wrong. What I've discovered recently is a passionate love. A love that goes beyond any understanding. Especially my own. With that thought, I'll do my best to explain.

My walk with God used to be very one sided. I sought to please Him, I sang songs to Him, I found ways to love Him, and I searched for His heart. It turns out, He also seeks to please me, He sings about me, He finds ways to love me, and He has searched for my heart! Wow. God knows my name. And He pronounces it correctly! He sings over me and He dances 'round about me! I am His favorite! His thoughts of me are more numerous than the sand. (Ps 139:17-18) God is pursuing my heart. He desires me more than I desire Him. Why have I only now discovered this? I have only just begun to let God woo me. Over these last few months He has become the Lover of my soul. And I am satisfied in Him.

Everything little thing reminds me of Him. Every love song I hear is either from me to Him, or from Him to me. With the same passion that a man loves a woman, God loves me. He created eros love, so He knows best how to give it! He aches for me, and I ache for Him. It's crazy and it doesn't make sense to my mind, but my heart sure feels God's love! I am now able to let that same kind of love to others. Moral of the story? Don't be afriad to let God love you passionately!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

A note to God.

Dear Yaweh, it's me, Katie. I'm having a hard time understanding your ways. Do you always have to be so mysterious? My heart is breaking for people very close to me. I want so desprately to make things well for them. It's not in my control. It's all up to you. I know how much you love me, so your heart must break to see my heart break. I'm sorry to make you sad. I don't want to do anything that would break your heart. I'm so confused. Please comfort them in ways I can't. Send your Holy Spirit. Help us to recognized evil spirits when they attack and to boldly stand against them. Thank you for all your good gifts and your undeserved love. Please come quickly! Amen.

Saturday, February 4, 2006

"Gardener" by Ann North

Some of the seeds of hope
Planted tentatively in the fall
Have not come up
They lie stillborn and unrealized
Somewhere in the spring soil

The strongest and best ones
Pushed up through leaves
And layers of cold, hard resistance
Right into clear blue air
And stand there nakedly green

It's always that way with growing things
Never knowing at the start
Which will make it and which will fail
But the thing to hold fast to
Never to lose faith in
Is simply