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Thursday, June 21, 2018

# 242 Stopping Up Your Well

The Book of Genesis

Day 242

Ge 26:13 The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous; 14 for he had possessions of flocks and possessions of herds and a great number of servants. So the Philistines envied him. 15 Now the Philistines had stopped up all the wells which his father's servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father, and they had filled them with earth. 16 And Abimelech said to Isaac, "Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we." 17 Then Isaac departed from there and pitched his tent in the Valley of Gerar, and dwelt there. 18 And Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham. He called them by the names which his father had called them. 19 Also Isaac's servants dug in the valley, and found a well of running water there. 20 But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac's herdsmen, saying, "The water is ours." So he called the name of the well Esek, because they quarreled with him. 21 Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that one also. So he called its name Sitnah.

The Lord blessed Isaac and he was doing very well in the land of the Philistines. And the Philistines were very jealous of him. So jealous that they wanted him out of their territory, and the way they sought to move him out was to keep filling the wells that Isaac needed for his family and his livestock.

It’s interesting that we read of no act of retaliation on Isaac’s part. I mean, I think I might be more than a little miffed about this tampering with my water, how about you?

Even as Isaac began to withdraw, he finds that the Philistines have filled up the wells that his father had dug. The message is clear, “You are not welcome here.”This is the message followers of Christ will run into in varying degrees of intensity as they seek to live Spirit filled (read that water-filled) lives. The Holy Spirit referred to “living water” in God’s Word. Joh 7:38 "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

The mere presence of a believer in the midst of unbelievers can create this kind of animosity. I remember my days working at a secular radio station. After my conversion to Christ, I would end my radio show every day by simply saying. “God bless you.” This irritated a listener who wrote the station and complained about my “constant preaching” on the air waves.  (She was in a sense trying to stop up my well.)

R. C. Sproul writing in his Christian classic, (The Holiness of God)  tells about a leading professional golfer years ago who was invited to play in a foursome with Gerald Ford, Jack Nicklaus, and Billy Graham. He had played with Nicklaus before, but he was in awe of playing with President Ford and Billy Graham.

After the round was finished, one of the other pros came up and asked, “Hey, what was it like playing with the President and with Billy Graham?” The pro unleashed a torrent of cursing, and said in a disgusting manner, “I don’t need Billy Graham stuffing religion down my throat.” With that he turned and stormed off, heading for the practice tee.
Funny thing, the pro later admitted that Billy had not said one single thing about “religion” when they played.
Face it! Be prepared for it! Not everyone will be thrilled with the fact that you are a Spirit filled follower of Christ. The unregenerated man is revulsed by the light of Christ because they love their sin! Joh 3:19 says, "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
Take heart when someone attempts to stop up your well, for it is a testimony that you are a follower of Christ, and a citizen of heaven!  . Mt 5:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

# 241 Pressing On In Spite Of Our Mistakes

The Book of Genesis

Day 241

Ge 26:7 And the men of the place asked about his wife. And he said, "She is my sister"; for he was afraid to say, "She is my wife," because he thought, "lest the men of the place kill me for Rebekah, because she is beautiful to behold." 8 Now it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked through a window, and saw, and there was Isaac, showing endearment to Rebekah his wife. 9 Then Abimelech called Isaac and said, "Quite obviously she is your wife; so how could you say, 'She is my sister'?" And Isaac said to him, "Because I said, 'Lest I die on account of her.'" 10 And Abimelech said, "What is this you have done to us? One of the people might soon have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt on us." 11 So Abimelech charged all his people, saying, "He who touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death."
 12 Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the LORD blessed him.

It’s déjà vu all over again! Like father, like son. Isaac has obeyed God’s simple command to “dwell in the land.” However, like his father Abraham, he falters when it comes to trusting God for his physical protection. This fear of being killed for the sake of their wives evidently was very real to them. So real, that they put their wives at risk of being sexually assaulted.

But once again God bails out his chosen one by allowing Abimelech to witness Isaac showing affection toward Rebekah in a manner that obviously indicated she was much more than his sister!
One of the amazing aspects of this account is found in verse 8 which says “when they had been there a LONG time,” somehow God had managed to place a hands off aura around Rebekah and she was spared any sexual violation.

Well, once discovered, Abimelech was furious with Isaac, just as the Abimelech of Abraham’s days was furious with Abraham!. No doubt, this account of the incident with Abraham had been passed down from generation to generation and the warning given in Abraham’s day was probably still ringing in the ears of this Abimelech! “You are a dead man because of the woman you have taken, restore the man’s wife and you shall live. If you don’t, you and all who are yours shall surely die.” (Gen 20:3) It’s the sort of thing that’s hard to forget!

This Abimelech wanted no part of this and so he orders his people not to touch Isaac or his bride, anyone touching them would be put to death!. With that kind of protection, Isaac went on to sow in the land and reap a great harvest, and the Lord blessed him, and prospered him, just as he said he would if Isaac would obey the simple command to dwell in the land!

When you and I respond affirmatively to God’s commands, we, like Isaac and Abraham are likely to make mistakes along the way. (Usually due to unnecessary fears that rise up in our hearts) Let’s not allow our mistakes to keep us from the blessing. Let’s not lose sight of the command. Let’s confess our shortcomings, and receive God’s forgiveness and get back to the simple task that God has laid before us. God’s not looking for a perfect heart to carry out His tasks……just a willing one.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

# 240 Two Men and A Famine (How God Moves His People)

The Book of Genesis

Day 240

Ge 26:1 There was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines, in Gerar.

The story moves from the troublesome twins (Esau and Jacob) to Isaac’s encounter with Abimelech of the Philistines.  First off, this is not the same “Abimelech” as the one that Abraham had dealt with falsely  97 years earlier, when he tried to pawn off Sarah as his sister. “Abimelech “is more likely a title or an office, like the term “Pharaoh.”

Most of this chapter mirrors the Abraham experience with Abimelech and helps explain how Isaac spent so much time in Philistine territory, and perhaps how Esau found himself a bride among the Hittites, when he was 40 years old! (v34)  You see the Hittites and Philistines rubbed elbows with each other, and this would explain the mention of Esau finding his bride in verse 34.

I think it’s always instructive to pause and consider famines when they show up in Scripture.  Who’s in charge of famines? God is! He determines when and where rain and snow will fall! Job 37:6 For He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth'; Likewise to the gentle rain and the heavy rain of His strength.

Famines are one of the ways that God moves people. Here he moves Isaac to Philistine country for some faith lessons, as he did Isaac’s father Abraham.Later He would use famine to bring Jacob and his sons to Egypt to be reunited with Joseph. He used famine to move Naomi to Moab and we were given the story of Ruth,. In the New Testament the account of the Prodigal son, involved a famine that was designed to move the prodigal back home, and around the years 40 to 50 A.D. a famine moved the New Testament churches to open their wallets in support of the saints in Jerusalem!. God uses famines, (physical or spiritual) to move His people!

Famines are a tool that God uses to get our attention or to set His plans in motion, or to get His people moving!

Famines don’t have to be restricted to a bad weather pattern. God can use financial famines, Hag 1:6 "You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, Earns wages to put into a bag with holes."

Or famines of good health (epidemics and diseases) Hab 3:5 Before Him went pestilence, And fever followed at His feet.

Or spiritual famines, Am 8:11 "Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord GOD, "That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, But of hearing the words of the LORD. 12 They shall wander from sea to sea, And from north to east; They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, But shall not find it.

So what are we to do when famine strikes in our own lives? We are to move! Not geographically, but spiritually….seek to move closer to God! Solomon gave us the cure in 1Ki 8:35 – 40, "When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, when they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin because You afflict them,  36 "then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of Your servants, Your people Israel, that You may teach them the good way in which they should walk; and send rain on Your land which You have given to Your people as an inheritance.  37 "When there is famine in the land, pestilence or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers; when their enemy besieges them in the land of their cities; whatever plague or whatever sickness there is;  38 "whatever prayer, whatever supplication is made by anyone, or by all Your people Israel, when each one knows the plague of his own heart, and spreads out his hands toward this temple:  39 "then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and act, and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men),  40 "that they may fear You all the days that they live in the land which You gave to our fathers.

Spread out your hands toward the temple of Solomon, which was meant to be a picture of Jesus! Confess His name! Confess your sins and turn from them and God’s rain (the Holy Spirit) will come and deal with the famine and plague in your heart! He will hear, forgive, and act, that we may once again, rightly fear (revere) the Lord!

Monday, June 18, 2018

# 239 His Problem? He Walked Away As If Nothing Happened

The Book of Genesis

Day 239

Ge 25:28 And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.  29 Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary.  30 And Esau said to Jacob, "Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary." Therefore his name was called Edom.  31 But Jacob said, "Sell me your birthright as of this day."  32 And Esau said, "Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?" 33 Then Jacob said, "Swear to me as of this day." So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob.  34 And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

I’m beginning to think that Esau had a real problem with food! Isaac favored him because of Esau’s love of his father’s style of food. And here we see more of his love for food as he begs Jacob for some of the lentil slop that Jacob had thrown together in the kitchen. I don’t mean to imply that Jacob was a lousy cook, but when it came time to fool  his father and trick him into getting the blessing that belonged to Esau, it was Rebekah who did the cooking, not Jacob!

At any rate, Esau comes in from the field, so hungry that he could eat a horse, and Jacob seizes the opportunity to try and supplant Esau as the heir. He wants Esau to sell his birthright for what’s cooking on the stove!

This birthright would guarantee Jacob, a double portion of inheritance, leadership over the family, and the blessing to carry on the covenant of promise given to Abraham, Noah, and Adam.

Esau, who is a man governed by his fleshly appetite gives these blessings away for goulash. This is an age old problem for God’s people and we are warned about it in  Heb 12:16, “lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.”

Let’s not sugar coat this, a profane person is a godless person, and a fornicator is anyone engaged in sexual immorality, specifically shacking up outside of wedlock! Do you not know that fornicators are specifically listed among those who will not inherit the kingdom of God! Yes, that’s right, unless they repent, they like Esau, have sold their birthright! Let that sink in, and tremble! You can read about it in (1 Cor 6:9-11, but read all of it, because you don’t have to finish that way! ("But such WERE some of you!")

The Holy Spirit speaking through the Apostle Paul and warning about those who reject Jesus and the cross, in Phil 3:19 says, “whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their mind on earthly things.”

These are warnings for us today! We must resist the sin of Esau! With the help of the Holy Spirit, we must subdue the desires of our flesh, lest we too forfeit our birthright! 

Esau, “ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.” He indulged his flesh and walked away as if nothing happened, and that’s how he lost his birthright! Father God, should we choose to indulge our flesh, let us not walk away as if nothing happened, but rather run to the cross, with godly sorrow over our sin, that we might receive forgiveness and keep our birthright that You have gracefully granted to us!

Friday, June 15, 2018

# 238 Performance Based Parenting

The Book of Genesis

Day 238

Ge 25:28 And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

With this one verse, you can feel the dysfunctional family disaster building. The father, Isaac, favoring his eldest son Esau because of his ability to perform for him. It was Esau who could sit down with his father, and enjoy the venison that dad had brought home from the hunt, while they talked about the big football game! Isaac and Esau probably liked their venison chili hot….Jacob probably preferred it mild, therefore Isaac preferred his son Esau.

On the other hand, Rebekah preferred Jacob. No specific reason given, but the preceding verse tells us that Jacob was a mild man who liked hanging around the house. Maybe he just liked reading a book as opposed to doing all that outdoor stuff. At any rate Rebekah preferred him over Esau.

This seems so silly! A father loving one child more than the other because he enjoyed the same food as his son! But this is more than taste buds!  This is about love based on performance rather than grace. There’s a lot of Isaac and Rebekah in all of us. We often send off signals that tell our children that we will love them more if they perform for us! Be a good football player, and I will love you more. Make the soccer team and score some goals, and I will love you more. And you coaches and umpires and officials better watch it, you better give my child a chance to perform up to my expectations!

And Jacob, I will love you more if you get good grades.  Beware teacher if you hinder my child in any way to impress me with good grades!

Our whole society has become performance oriented and winning has seemingly become everything! But listen Isaac and Rebekah, don’t you know that a focus on winning and performance will often divert you from what’s important….namely shaping character! 

Allow me to let you in on a little secret; Your children do not need prodding and extra incentives to please you! They long to perform for you in all sorts of ways that they deem pleasing to you.  (Remember, “Look mom! No hands!)   Take note of every time you catch them looking for your approval, and let them know by your actions and affirming words  that you notice and appreciate their efforts!

And above all, let them know that your love for them is not based on performance! Let them know that your love for them is just as unconditional as the love of your heavenly Father is for you.

Ro 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Christ died for us out of pure love for us with no amount of performance on our part attached. And it is out of that kind of love for us, that we then strive to please Him through obedience that leads to God-pleasing performance on our part, and in the end, our heavenly Father will say to us, what all children long to hear, “Well done, thy good and faithful servant!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

# 237 Real Men Follow Jesus

The Book of Genesis

Day 237

Ge 25:27 So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents.  28 And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Quite a contrast in the makeup of these twins. Esau, today might be called the “the manly man,” and Jacob, the stay at home “mama’s boy.”

But before we jump on the stereotyping bandwagon, we ought to cast aside all our pre-conceived notions about what kind of men they are, and rather, look at their heart…..that’s what really matters.
It seems that there is a stigma attached to being a male follower of Jesus. Christian men are often looked at as wimps by the world’s standards. ( I know that’s the way I viewed male followers of Christ before Jesus got a hold of me!) 

I think that perception is changing as more and more Christian athletes speak boldly about their faith in Jesus! Remember Reggie White, the “minister of defense,” who terrorized opposing quarterbacks and offensive linemen in the NFL?  Try telling him at the peak of his career that he was a wimp because he followed Jesus.

Remember the Promise Keepers movement founded by the very successful college football coach  Bill McCartney? Those stadium events thundered with the voices of 40,000 plus men singing worship songs to Jesus! And you can be sure that there were many Esau’s and Jacob’s in the mix! 

The proof of course is in the pudding. We may talk about Jesus and our faith till the cows come home, but are we living it? It is in living it, that the real warrior emerges! A warrior who puts on the full armor of God daily in order to do battle with the devil, the world, and his flesh!  The Christian warrior provides the willing “Braveheart” and allows God to fight these spiritual battles through him. A Christian man finds his true identity in Christ and not in the number of trophies on his wall. A Christian man doesn’t measure himself by the number of things he has conquered, but rather is measured to the degree that Christ has conquered him!

It doesn’t matter whether a man is an indoors or outdoors type, what matters is his willingness to take up his cross and follow Jesus!

Jesus said in Mt 10:38,39, "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
 39 "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

It is this man (or woman) who will capture the only trophy that matters….the prize of eternal life, freely given to the man or woman who has been conquered by Christ.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

# 236 The Supplanter

The Book of Genesis

Day 236

Ge 25:24 So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb.  25 And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau.  26 Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau's heel; so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

So the twins are born. Esau, the first one out of the womb and immediately named in accordance with his physical appearance. He was ruddy even as a newborn child! Red and hairy, his parents name him Esau which means “rough.”

But what’s this? The next guy out grabs the heel of Esau as if to say, “Not so fast buddy, I’m gonna have the role of first born here!” This is so strange! A little infant putting his perfectly formed little fingers around his brother’s tiny heel at birth!  In Hosea 12:3, we read that he actually grabbed his brother by the heel while he was still in the womb, and that’s the way he came out into the world! So his parents gave him the name “Jacob” which means “one who takes the heel,” or “supplanter.” To supplant is to overthrow by tripping up, and that’s exactly what Jacob would do later in life as he trips up Esau and Isaac in order to get the birthright and blessing which was due the firstborn!

Esau, who would become the father of the Edomites, would serve the younger Jacob, (the father of the Israelites) and this word from the Lord, given to Rebekah during her pregnancy with these twins, would come to pass in 2 Sam 8:14 where we read of David putting garrisons throughout all Edom, and all the Edomites became David’s servants. 2Sa 8:14 He also put garrisons in Edom; throughout all Edom he put garrisons, and all the Edomites became David's servants. And the LORD preserved David wherever he went.This was by no  means an easy process as is noted throughout the Old Testament. The Edomites were a thorn in the side of Israel throughout much of their history.

Let us guard against those tendencies in all of us to be “Jacobs,” to be “supplanters.” If we were honest, we would all admit to being schemers in most areas of our lives. It’s like Bob Wallace said to Betty Haynes in “White Christmas, “surely you knew that everybody’s got a little larceny operating in them.”

We do! We want to be in control. We want to determine our destiny, but as we shall see with Jacob, schemers have little rest and no peace. Let us cease our striving as we try to be one step ahead of everyone (especially God! Rather let us take Php 4:6,7 to heart. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”