God’s Word is True and Trustworthy

After 25 years of waiting; the promised son, Isaac, was born to Abraham and Sarah. Along the way, bouts of unbelief and possible despair did plague them, but now there was laughter, joy and bliss. It seemed everything would go great, but jealously quickly arose when Abraham’s son by Hagar, Ishmael, began mocking Isaac. Momma didn’t take this well and ordered Abraham to send them away. Of course, this greatly saddened Abraham, but God encouraged him to do this since Isaac was the promised seed.

Abraham was obedient and sent Hagar and Ishmael off out of the land after giving them provisions for the journey. Before long, their water supply depleted and Hagar stopped the journey and sat down out of exhaustion dreading the foreseen future without water. Hagar cries out to God, “Do not let me see the boy die.” (Gen 21:16)

God heard the cries and the angel of God comforted Hagar promising that Ishmael was going to be a great nation. For him to be a great nation; he must live. This brought comfort to her and then God supplied water for them to drink and continued to care for the boy.

Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water; and she went and filled the skin with water and gave the lad a drink. God was with the lad, and he grew…. Genesis 21:19-20a

Throughout chapter 21 of Genesis, it is seen how God’s word is true and trustworthy. The promised son, Isaac, was born to Abraham and Sarah in God’s perfect timing. Instead of trusting God’s word, Abraham and Sarah decided to take this matter in their own hands by having a child through Hagar, Sarah’s maid. It seemed like a good idea, but now that the promised child has come; Hagar and Ishmael are sent off because they are not needed.

Hagar is on her own and now at the point of despair, Hagar cries out and God hears and answers and even promises that they were going to make it through this set back by promising that Ishmael will turn into a great nation. Ishmael can’t be a great nation if he is dead and have no kids. So, this was the assurance that Hagar needed to know that God was watching over them and that His word is true and trustworthy.

Immediately God shows Hagar a well to drink from. She now knows that they will live. The real question at hand is, “Was the well always there? Or did God just create it? We don’t know. We do know that she was totally consumed by her situation and was looking down cast. Even if the well was there already; she was blinded and too overwhelmed to even see it.

Once she acknowledged that she was helpless in caring for her son; God stepped in and encouraged and gave her promises to look towards.

In our lives, God is always aware of our unpleasant situations. Sometimes, He will step in and help without us asking, but usually, He waits until we ask. God wants a relationship. He already knows what you are going through and He knows what you are thinking. Spend some time in communication with your Heavenly Father telling him your troubles, worries, what you’re thankful for and even ask Him to show you what you are to blinded to see.

As you spend time with God; you will also see how God’s word is true and trustworthy.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. “Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? “Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! Matthew 7:7-11

You are So Unlike Your Christ

Mahatma Gandhi was a major leader and a non-violent civil rights activist in India’s independence movement in the 1930’s.  He sought out a non-violent change against the oppressing British government. Gandhi was a strong presence in a racially difficult time for Indians.

Though Gandhi was a devote Hindu; his peaceful beliefs mirrored some of the teachings of Jesus. It is quoted that this prompted E. Stanley Jones, a Christian missionary, to reach out to Gandhi and ask him, “Mr. Gandhi, though you quote the words of Christ often, why is that you appear to so adamantly reject becoming his follower? Gandhi replied, “Oh, I don’t reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ. “

There was never any evidence that Gandhi truly believed the words of Jesus, but it is interesting to see his life pondering Jesus’ words and showing the world peace and love. Gandhi accepted his own fabrication of who Jesus was. He seen Jesus as a great prophet that taught wise sayings and showed love to those around him. The part that Gandhi missed was that Jesus’ words had life in them and it was Jesus that did the work necessary for salvation.

Like the missionary asked; the question at hand is, “Why did Gandhi so adamantly reject becoming Jesus’ follower?” Did he truly not fully accept the words of Christ? Did he reject Jesus because of the Christian’s witness that he had experienced? Did Christians not show love to him or his people? Was unnecessary pain brought upon him because of a Christian’s negligence?

On this earth, we will never know, but we do know that each one is responsible for their own choices in life. We can blame others and use them as our excuse, but ultimately, the decision and consequences fall on each individual.

There is a chance that Gandhi was interested in the words of Jesus and several, so called, Christians came along with a poor witness and turned him off to the words of Jesus. It’s possible!

It’s even possible that your poor witness has turned someone away from Christ or caused others harm.

Genesis chapter twenty should not even be in the bible. This chapter is a repeat of chapter twelve, where out of fear, Abraham lies about Sarah being his wife. Since he lied, King Abimelech took Sarah to be his wife. Before Abimelech had relations with her, God appeared to him in a dream and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because the woman whom you have taken, for she is married.” (Gen 20:3).

Unnecessary trouble was headed Abimelech’s way because of Abraham’s poor witness. Since Abimelech was obedient and quickly returned Sarah to Abraham; God didn’t destroy him and God healed them of their inability to bear children (vs. 17). It did cost him financially because he paid Abraham 1000 pieces of silver and gave him some land, sheep, oxen and servants (vss. 14-16). This encounter might have either turned King Abimelech away from knowing God or it strengthened his belief in God. We don’t know, but it did cause harm and a financial loss to him because of Abrahams poor witness.

The Bible shows all of the saints of the past without filters. Sometimes they did great things that helped people and sometimes they did dumb things that hurt others. These things are clearly shown for our example (1 Cor 10:11).

Make sure your life is not represented as Gandhi unfortunately seen Christians, “You Christians are so unlike your Christ.” If you are claiming to be a Christian, do not have a poor witness that turns someone away from Christ or causes unnecessary pain to others.

When people see your life; let them see Jesus through you.

Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ. 1 Cor 11:1

A Righteous Man

There are times that we look at a person’s life and all of the evidence points to them that they are an unbeliever. It’s not our place to judge another man’s servant (Rom 14:4), but for some reason, we feel that it is our job. A person can be a son or daughter and be living in the ‘pig pen’ (Luke 15:15-17). While an individual is in the pig pen; they are miserable and they have lost their joy because of their decision. Maybe they feel stuck or out of control or maybe just consumed by their surroundings.

In Genesis chapter eighteen, Abraham pleads to God to spare the city of Sodom if there is at least ten righteous men and/or women in it. God agrees not to destroy the city if there are ten righteous in it. Sadly though, there were not ten righteous in that city, so God sends angels there to destroy the city.

One man in that city, by the name of Lot, was found to be righteous, though he was consumed by his surroundings. Even though outwardly, Lot didn’t act holy; he did exercise belief in the coming Messiah and this placed him as righteous in God’s eyes.

and if God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; and if He rescued RIGHTEOUS Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds),  then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment,… 2 Peter 2:6-9

God remembered Abraham’s pleading for the righteous and showed grace and compassion to Lot (19:16, 29) by sending two angels to get Lot and his family out of the city. Lot is indulging in the ‘pig pen’ and has engulfed himself into this culture. He was heavily involved in the city and even a judge for them (19:1,19). Maybe his thought process was to get involved and to try to shine his light to this dark and dismal city. Instead of influencing the city; the city impressed their values on him and his family. He received severe oppression and mistreatment from this group, but he stayed involved in the city and his testimony was ineffective and eventually it was tarnished.

Lot made a slight effort on gathering his sons-in-law to come with him, but they ignored him. Lot was dragging his feet on leaving this city that he loved. By morning, the angels urged him to get out because judgment was coming, but Lot hesitated, so the angels grabbed the hands of Lot, his wife and two daughters and brought them outside of the city.

Though Lot made it out alive; he lost his wife when she gazed back to Sodom, the land and possessions that she loved (vs. 26). His daughters were so conformed to the wicked ways of Sodom that they quickly thought it a good idea to get their father drunk and have relations with him (vs. 31ff).

Lot was a righteous man but he lost many things living in this city that he shouldn’t have even lived in the first place.  He lost his family to the culture. By blending in with the culture; he lost any influence and testimony he did have.  Ultimately, living in this ‘pig pen’ he lost his peace and joy knowing that he should not have lived there and the regret that came after losing his family from his poor decisions.

This is a rough passage of Scripture, but the Bible shows every side of the saints of the past. The battles, victories, troubles, mistakes, sins, failures, good works and regrets are shown for our example and instruction. The whole truth of each biblical character is shown so we can learn from them.

Instead of judging others, be quicker to pray and encourage those who are struggling. Each of them could use an ‘Abraham’ praying for them. Be quick to learn from the poor examples of others so you do not make the same painful mistakes like Lot did. Be careful to not to fall in the ‘pig pen’ and become conformed to your surroundings and losing your testimony and joy.

Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. 1 Corinthians 10:11-12

God Almighty

In Genesis chapter seventeen; God appears to Abram (later Abraham) the fifth time and reveals himself as “el shadday”–God almighty. This newly revealed name will serve as a reminder to Abram that this God can do anything. The reason for God’s appearance again was to make a covenant and to reaffirm the promised son that is still to come.

God gives Abram a name change maybe to affirm the divine plan that is now going to take place. Abram’s name means “father” but God changes it to Abraham which means “father of a multitude”. God changes his name to father of a multitude without counting Ishmael and before he had the promised son, Isaac.

Without having the promised son; it took a lot of faith to believe that God was going to do this. Though Abraham struggled in his journey; he now knows that this God is the el shadday–God Almighty. Abraham knows that God can surely take Sarai’s womb which was like a tomb without life and give it life.

Think of all of the harassment that both received. Sarah for not being able to have a child and Abraham having the name “exalted Father” and then later “Father of multitudes” In spite of the harassment and difficulties; though it was hard at times, Abraham was believing God by faith for this to happen. He now knew that God can bring life out of a barren womb because God is the God Almighty.

The God Almighty gives the covenant that was designed for God to remain faithful too even though Abraham and his descendants will be unfaithful. But in spite of what Abraham and his descendants do; God will keep His end of the bargain so ultimately the promised Seed, Jesus Christ will come to save people from their sins.

God tells Abraham that his wife’s, name will change from Sarai to Sarah. Sarah will be a princess who will be the mother of nations. Though her womb was like a lifeless tomb; the God Almighty was about to give her the promised son. Upon hearing this, Abraham laughed thinking that both their ages were well past child bearing years.

God shows his sense of humor back to Abraham’s laughter; reaffirming that Sarah was going to have a son and his name will be called Isaac–which means “he laughs”.

Abraham and Sarah both struggled throughout their journey with trusting God’s promises to be true. God gave them a name change and He revealed himself as the El Shadday–God Almighty that can do anything. Since God Almighty is the covenant keeping God; Abraham realized that He is trustworthy.

Even in our lives; God reveals himself as the el-shadday–God Almighty. Nothing is too difficult for Him. In you journey, you may struggle to believe God’s word to be true, like Abraham did, but that doesn’t change the fact that He is God Almighty, the covenant keeping faithful God.

 

God Sees and Hears

There are some who think that God wants you healthy, wealthy and to have a problem free life and if this isn’t your experience; then you are doing something wrong. In the extreme, some even think that God doesn’t love you or He’s mad at you if life isn’t going smooth. This is an interesting thought, but obviously not Scripture, because the sun rises and the rain falls on the righteous and unrighteous (Matt 5:4). So, both good and bad things can enter a person’s life whether righteous or not.

Now, there are times that God blesses the diligent with riches whether righteous or not. Generally, the ones who exercises and eats properly will have good health, but this isn’t always true. There are times that it seems that life is going your way and smooth sailing is on the horizon; like driving up “that one road” loaded with stop lights and hitting all green lights; unlike most days where you hit every red light.  There are times that everything is going great but usually though, smooth sailing, green lights, good health and riches are not an everyday occurrence for most people. Recognizing that God sees and hears you through the good and bad times in life will help you endure and focus on what God is doing in your life for His Glory.

Abram and Sarai (later called Abraham and Sarah) was promised a child in Genesis chapter fifteen. Since Sarai was barren; they felt that it was necessary to help God keep His promise by having her maid, Hagar, and Abram conceive a child together. Since Hagar is Sarai’s possession; any child from Hagar is technically Sarai’s.

The plan to help God seemed brilliant until the deed was done and Hagar became pregnant with Abram’s child. Immediately, Sarai despised Hagar and treated her harshly. Because of the severe treatment; Hagar escaped Sarai’s presence.

Hagar was now a runaway slave and she could be killed if caught, but fleeing from such harsh treatment seemed worth the risk. Once out in the wilderness a distance from home; the Angel of the Lord appeared to Hagar and the Lord instructed her return to Sarai’s presence and submit to her.

Submit to Sarai? Did God know or hear correctly the trouble that Sarai caused Hagar? Or how awkward it was going to be now since she is having a child for Abram and Sarai is still unable to become pregnant?

God did know, see and hear her troubles and because of it; Hagar was going to get a multitude of descendants through the child that was within her and to be a continual reminder of God’s promise; she is to name her son Ishmael which means “God hears.”

Being an Egyptian, Hagar was familiar with acknowledging deities for her provisions. Nothing is told before this if Hagar recognized God as being the one true God before this encounter but afterwards she sees that this God of Abram is not like the Egyptian gods.

Abram’s God is the “God who sees.”

Then Hagar called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees”; for she said, “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?” Genesis 16:13

Hagar recognized that this God of Abram loved her and He was the God that sees and hears everything. She was ready to return to Sarai without any promise if the harsh treatment was going to stop, continue or even intensify. She willingly accepted her lot knowing that possible pain could be in her future, but she knew God loved her and He was watching and listening. Hagar was confident that if even life was not easy; God was with her and all of this was going to be used for the glory of God.

Like Hagar; whether in good times or bad; you can go about your life knowing that God sees and hears you. God is watching and listening. He loves you with an everlasting love and He wants to use you for His Glory.

…O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all… How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Psalm 139:1-4, 17

Believing God

With all of the city lights around; the majesty and beauty of the night time sky is usually missed. On a clear night; the sky sparkles with beauty from the distant stars. This is usually only seen if you are away from the city lights. I live out in the country, but even so, there are lights around that detract from the beauty of the sky in certain portions of my property. If you get away from the lights and look up; they blaze in all of their brightness.

When I look off into the night time sky, especially when it is clear, I sometimes think about Abraham (Abram at this point) in Genesis 15.  God told him to look towards the heaven and count the stars.

Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.” Then behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”  Genesis 15:2-5

God tells Abram to look towards the heavens to count the stars. It could have been a cloudy night with only one star shining. One offspring would still have taken great faith to believe God for since his wife was barren. I am reading between the lines, but I am assuming that it was a clear night with the stars blazing at their most intensity, since God said, “…if you are able to count them.” (vs. 5).

Abram was out in the wilderness with clear skies and no man-made lights like today to weaken the intensity. Thousands and thousands of stars were seen. This was a strong confirmation for Abram of knowing that he will have many descendants, including the promised Seed. Abram knew to have many; it had to start with one. Abram believed and trusted in God’s word that God is reliable and trustworthy.

Then Abram believed in the LORD; and God reckoned it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:6

This simple act of believing God’s word to be true placed Abram in a right relationship with God. Abram believed that God would bring at least one offspring which will in turn bring the promised Messiah. Since Abram believed, God thought about it or reckoned it and decided that Abram’s belief in God’s promise was enough to make him righteous. With Abram’s simple belief in God’s promised off spring, God accredited or placed into his account righteousness.

Later in this chapter (vss. 12-19), God makes a one-sided covenant with Abram showing that it doesn’t matter what Abram does; God was going to keep His Word. Abram is already righteous in God’s eyes by believing in Him that he was going to give him a son and ultimately the promised Seed; the Messiah. God did this legal act showing that He is trustworthy and will keep His Word about Abram’s righteousness and the promised Seed and Land in spite of what Abram or his kin will do.

 

The Gospel has always been a simple belief in Jesus Christ finished work on the cross. Those in the Old Testament looked forward to Jesus’ coming and we look back to what has already been done on the cross by Jesus Christ.  It not about what you have done, what you are doing and what you are going to do. It’s about believing God’s Word to be true. Knowing God is through belief in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross. God has already done what needs to be done. He has provided a way for us to know God. We just need to trust God’s word and do it His way.

 

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 14:6

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.  “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:16-18

Leave the Familiar

In Genesis chapter twelve, Abram (latter called Abraham) is told to leave his country, his relatives, and everything that is familiar to him. To leave everything familiar and embark unto the unknown would scare even the bravest soul.  For some reason, change scares some people. Oddly, people will continue in a poor direction that they are familiar with instead of stepping out into the unknown.

I heard of a story where a tribal village started having many deaths. A scientist went to the tribe and realized that there was a bug living in their wooden huts that were causing these deaths. The scientist gave them three options.

  1. Let us spray chemicals on the huts to kill the bugs. There are some minimal risks spraying chemicals around a home.
  2. Relocate and build a new village elsewhere away from this pest.
  3. Do nothing. Stay where you are and continue to have the high death rate.

Which option did they choose? Sadly, they chose option three. They did nothing. They were familiar with their surroundings and sufferings and feared change more than the unfamiliar.

God tells Abram to go and he willing steps off unto the unfamiliar.

Traveling in those days are not like traveling today. Today we can map out our course looking for the smoothest route. Before we climb in our comfortable car; we can check the weather and even Google map the streets to get an idea of what the area looks like. As we map out our course; we can adjust our route so there is a five-star hotel on the way and specific restaurants.

In Abram’s day, it was dangerous to travel. Chances are that Abram took a whole entourage of people and animals with him, so there was some safety in numbers and a nice supply of food. But to go in uncharted areas could be trouble. He could run into a dangerous group that outnumbered him. Abram probably worried if there will be enough fresh water? Will the terrain be too rough for some? What if we push through an extremely tough area only to run into something that is impossible to cross?

Abram laid down his fears and simply believed that God had something great for him. His journey wasn’t trouble free. He quickly finds out that there is a famine going on which pushed him down to Egypt. While in Egypt. The Pharaoh was attracted to Abram’s wife, Sarai, and Abram ends up lying about Sarai being his wife and says that she is his sister, so the Pharaoh takes her away. God had to induce plagues upon Pharaoh’s house so he would release Sarai.

So, Abram was escorted from Egypt and began his journey again without knowing where he was going. Abram was willing to step off unto the unfamiliar.

This is usually how God works. He shows the first step and once the first step is done, he shows the next step and so on.

Your word is a lamp to my fee, and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

When Abram showed his faith in action by leaving the familiar it showed that he believed that God would be true to His Word by directing and providing for him in his journey, and ultimately fulfilling the promises that God said would come about (Gen 12:1-3).

There are times that God asks you to step out of your familiar surroundings and embark on a journey that would cast fear in the hearts of many. Like Abram, lay down your fears and boldly move forward knowing that God has something great for you and He will direct your path as you cling close to Him. By doing this, your relationship with God grows and God ultimately gets the glory for the outcome.