Monthly Archives: January 2020

I AM and Me (Exodus 6)

This year I am reading my mother’s Bible. After she went to live with Jesus in 1996, I took her Bible home with me, and it’s sat on my shelf all these years. So this year, I decided to read through God’s Word and see the things Mom marked, the verses she underlined. Today I read the first of her underlined verses.

Mom underlined the things in chapter 6 that God said about Himself: “I am the Lord,” “I’ve heard your groanings,” “I remember my promises to you,” “I will free you,” “I will take you as my own,” “I am the Lord your God.”

I wish I knew what those verses meant to Mom, what was happening in her life when she underlined them. I wish I could talk to her. I can’t. So I asked God to speak to me about what He wants me to know about these verses that were special to my mother.

God is.

People have tried to deny that fact, but the truth is  – God exists. He is exactly who He says He is. Fighting against that truth is as futile as arguing that the sun doesn’t produce light and warmth, that trees that lose their leaves in fall, don’t bud again every spring. You simply can’t argue against what is.

God is.

He tells us His name is I AM. He is what He is. Period.

When Mom read this passage in Exodus, she seems to have been touched by the personal involvement the Great I AM has with His children, the fact that He is our Lord who hears, who delivers, who calls us His own. He is not a god. He is The God. And He wants to be involved in my life, like a Father, or a Shepherd, or a Friend, and a Savior.

I am humbled at the very thought that the God of the Universe, the Creator God, the eternal, powerful, majestic, and holy God wants a relationship with me. I think I know my mom enough to believe she was blown away by the same thing.

Please take a minute to bask in the precious truth. God, who IS, was, and is to come, loves you, wants to fellowship with you, loves you more than you can imagine, and died so that a relationship can happen. The Great I AM loves me.

And loves you, too.

Go! (Genesis 42)

Do you get upset when you watch the news? How about when you scroll through FaceBook and see all the pettiness and hate? Are you fed up with all the blatant sin on TV, and the weakening of the Church in America? Many people pray, “Come back, Lord! There is no hope for us.”

But then I hear what Jacob said to his sons who were wringing their hands over the severity of the famine in the land, and I know God is saying the same to us today:

Why do you just keep looking at each other?… GO… (42:1)

God has not left us without hope. Are you just going to stand there? Or are you going to answer His call to go make disciples, to let your light shine in the darkness, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with people for whom He died?

Sure, things are bad. Sin is rampant. Satan is on a roll. But standing around and moaning about it isn’t going to change a thing.

Go!

It’s A Miracle! (Genesis 30)

Have you ever wondered why God didn’t set Jacob straight when he thought putting strips of poplar and almond branches in the water trough would cause perfectly white mating sheep to produce striped and spotted lambs? Does it surprise you that God increased Jacob’s flock in spite of this ridiculous practice?

I remember a well-meaning Sunday School teacher saying the branches in the water frightened the sheep, and the trauma from that shock caused the offspring to be spotted and striped. Interesting.

But does the Bible actually teach folklore or hocus-pocus? Of course not!

I went to Google and found several different theories about this. But most of the articles I read agreed to some degree. Here’s what I found:

First, let me ask you this: How many of you take herbal supplements? Have you ever eaten a handful of almonds for their health benefits? I think Jacob, through God’s leading, might be the first recorded herbalist. (If you want to know more about it let me direct you to answersingenesis.org; Jacob’s Odd “Breeding Program” of Genesis 30. I found that article very interesting).

However, setting all the science aside, the best explanation of Jacob’s breeding program  is found in 31:6-12 when he describes his vision. The bottom line is…

it’s a miracle.

It was God who caused the increase. It was God who strengthened the sheep and produced striped and spotted offspring. God did that, with or without the medicinal benefits of the branches.

God has given us doctors, medicines, even herbs to aid in healing. But do not be misled, healing is a miracle. It is of God, not science, not medicine, not hocus-pocus. If God uses the science He created to bring about healing – it’s a miracle! If God heals apart from any scientific explanation – it’s a miracle!

We can spend all day trying to figure out the “why and how” of Genesis 30. I’ve spent too much time on it today, myself, when I firmly believe God just wants us to see Him in this passage. Period. God could take two perfectly white animals whose genetics would naturally produce perfectly white offspring, and create a spotted lamb in order to bless Jacob. That’s the bottom line.

It’s a miracle!

 

Just Move On (Genesis 20)

Sometimes I read about Isaac and the feud with the Philistines over the wells, and think, “Why didn’t he fight for his rights? Why didn’t he stand up to the bullies and tell them he’d dug those wells, so they should just go and dig their own? Why should Isaac lose what he’d worked for?”

Instead, Isaac gave in, packed up and moved on to another location, dug another well. Then, when the Philistines came and claimed that well, too, Isaac reacted the way he’d reacted before. He packed up and moved on to yet another location, and dug yet another well. The Philistines took the second well right from under Isaac, and Isaac appears to not even have objected. He simply moved on.

That just isn’t done in 21st Century America. I mean, people have gotten into fist fights, even pulled guns on one another over parking spaces at the grocery. You don’t step on the  perceived rights of an American these days.

Was Isaac so weak, did he have so little faith that God would fight for him over the wells? What gives?

This is what I hear God say to me this morning: It wasn’t that Isaac didn’t trust God. It’s that Isaac trusted God a great deal. After digging the third well, and without any objection from the Philistines this time, Isaac said:

Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land. (26:22)

The truth is, sometimes battles present themselves that God does not want us fighting. Sometime we don’t need to respond if someone baits us with a political position, or a moral dilemma. Sometimes God wants us to back away, move on instead of taking up our battle position.

Yes, there are times God wants us to go to war. But sometimes war is not His will, even though Satan would love for us to jump into the fray. God may want us to move on instead.

Isaac was sensitive to God’s leading, and God led him to greener pastures where Isaac could flourish. I know you’ve heard it said, “Pick your battles,” and I think that is sound advice. Here might be the better advice, though:

Pick God’s battles.

Notice in the verse I quoted above Isaac said, “… the Lord has given…”

It wasn’t about winning a fight, it was about waiting for God’s best. And God always gives His best when we are in a position to receive it. Sometimes we just have to keep moving on until we are in that position where God can and will bless us.

Let’s determine to be in God’s Word every day, to pray without ceasing, and to be sensitive to God’s leading in every situation. Then let’s let God move in our hearts as to whether we fight or just move on. May He find us obedient however He leads.

 

Surprised By Scripture (Genesis 16, 21)

Ishmael was fourteen years old when Isaac was born. Does that surprise you? How many of us remember that picture on our childhood Sunday School classroom walls of a weeping Hagar, with a baby in diapers under a bush behind her? The Bible does not paint that picture.

Abraham was 86 when Ishmael was born (16:16) He was 100 years old when Sarah gave birth to Isaac (21:5). Fourteen years separated the brothers. When Abraham banished Hagar and Ishmael, Ishmael was a teenager, according to God’s Word..

I am reminded today how important that God’s children read and re-read His Word, put down the commentaries, block out the voice of teachers (and bloggers), and let God speak. Sometimes when we read the Bible, instead of reading God’s Word, we end up reading Charles Stanley’s word, or Kay Arthur’s word, or the word of that dear Sunday School teacher, or the word of the writers of our church denomination’s theology. We read the words on the pages of the Bible, but we hear what others have said instead of hearing the voice of God.

I know God will not give any of us a new revelation, a “truth” not already in Scripture. But I think God would have us read what He wrote and let Him point out what He Himself would say to each of us every time we do.

Last month our Ladies’ Bible Study discovered that Mary Magdalene was NOT an immoral woman. Scripture does NOT identify her as the woman at the well or the woman caught in adultery. Does that surprise you? Read the Gospels and see if you can find Mary Magdalene’s name associated with sexual sin anywhere.

I will tell you it was hard for some of us to let go of the picture of Mary Magdalene as a reformed prostitute. We’d been taught that from childhood. Yet we had to rethink the voices from our past, and accept only what God said about Mary in His Word. It surprised all of us.

God has so much to say to you today. Read His Word and let Him tell you what that is. Don’t assume that the words you are skimming over mean what you’ve always heard they mean. Read with the intention of understanding, and let God reveal Himself to you in a personal, life changing way, according to the Bible.

You may be surprised by Scripture, too!

Knowing God (Job 40-42)

“Well, when you put it like that, Lord…”

After months, maybe years of heartache and loss, with questions unanswered, God finally speaks to Job. But God doesn’t answer one of Job’s questions. Instead He asked questions of Job (and us) which we should not ignore. In those questions is exactly what God wants us to know about Him.

I hope you’ll read Job 40-42 today. And instead of wondering what a behemoth was, or if a leviathan was a fire-breathing dragon, hear what God wants you to know about Himself. Don’t just see bronze-like bones, or lightning-producing sneezes. See God! See the God who is more powerful than anything He created.

Then, I hope you will respond like Job responded. Don’t miss 42:5-6.

My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.

Job had thought he knew God. But his knowledge about God wasn’t enough. When Job finally was faced with WHO GOD IS, he could only fall on his face before Him, despise himself for things done and thoughts thoughts, and repent of it all.

My prayer is that all of us will do the same.

 

The Audacity! (Job 32-37)

It’s one thing to speak God’s Words. It’s another thing to speak for God. A young Elihu had the audacity to claim he spoke for God. He had all the answers, and was determined to “enlighten” the others with his superior wisdom. In the end, he was as much a fool as the rest of them.

There are way too many people who have the audacity to speak for God: TV preachers who claim to have a special message from God telling us we should be healthy and wealthy; The young woman involved in the Bethel Movement who claims she got a special word from God through a giant angel, and therefore can speak for God; Joseph Smith, who claimed he received special glasses from an angel so he could read magical scrolls, and therefore speak for God.

The audacity! Sadly, millions of people fall for the lies.

Yet the Apostle Paul said this:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unreachable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)

Paul knew we need to let God speak for Himself – because He alone is able. None of can come close to having the mind and knowledge of God. We are NOT His equals.

I always cringe when, at the casket of a person who has met their eternal fate, someone says, “It was God’s will,” or “God needed another angel,” or “Now you have someone looking down and watching over you.”

The audacity! How dare anyone speak for God, especially at such a vulnerable and critical time in someone’s life.

Do you really want to claim you know God’s will for anyone’s life and death? Where in God’s Word do you read about Him not having enough angels, or that a human ever looks down from heaven onto this sinful world? Or are you claiming God has visited you with an extra-Biblical message? Be careful.

Doesn’t the Bible tell us that in heaven, God wipes away our tears. (Revelation 21:4) I’ll tell you right now, if my mother was still watching over her children these past 24 years, God would have needed to dry bucketsful of tears as her heart repeatedly broke over the sins her five daughters have committed since she was here. Does that sound like heaven to you? It certainly is NOT the heaven Scripture describes.

Warren Wiersbe says this:

“No matter how smart you think you are, you never know enough to ‘play God’ in somebody’s life.” (With The Word; Thomas Nelson Press; 1991; p 300)

God has spoken for Himself in the pages of Scripture. Let’s not assume we can speak for Him beyond what He revealed in the Bible. Let’s determine to only speak God’s Words as recorded there.

God. doesn’t need any of us to speak for Him. In fact, we can’t.