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Posts Tagged ‘Abraham’


Hearts

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Love, it’s a funny thing. It can mean many different things to many different people. We’re given ideas about love from a multitude of different places that tell us how we express love, receive love and allow love to come into our lives.

Then we’re told how we can express love better, as if most of us don’t already know that we’re not so good at that already. Not many of us will go as far as to say we’re good at this thing called love. In my estimation those that do, either are not facing reality or have bumps along the way of their love pathways that they are guarding as closely as Fort Knox.

The funny thing is that even though we know we’re not very good at it, as is evidenced by so many books, shows and other help’s that are out there, we don’t really take the necessary steps to actually learn from the One – namely Christ – who knows all about love and how it works.

Why?

In our world of ‘me first’, the love that Christ introduces us to just doesn’t seem very personally fulfilling.

Again why?

Because sacrifice of our own self just doesn’t do anything for any of us on a personal level. And, it’s been that way since the beginning of man. Although we would all like to think that we’ve come from some sort of Golden Age when things were better back when and our culture has become something other than what it was with our “me first” mentality, the reality is that mankind has always been about “me first”. It just looks a little different in this day and age.

If we go back to Genesis and look at Abraham, a friend of God, letting his nephew choose his portion of land first, which turned out to be the best, most fertile land, some of us naturally think Abraham got the short end of the stick because he gave up his right to choose first and get the best land. Why would he do such a thing? Precisely because he was a friend of God.

David’s another one. He’s called a man after God’s own heart. Impetuous, emotional, seeming to break all of God’s law at one time or another. But, he didn’t take the kingship from Saul when he could have. David sacrificed his own life for years, living in caves with criminals, because one thing he wouldn’t do was take what the Lord hadn’t allowed him to have yet. So he showed love for Saul by waiting and in the process he sacrificed a portion of his life because he was a man after God’s own heart.

There are others in scripture and in the world around us who do the very same thing, but many times we don’t see them because what they do is so foreign to us. And this is pretty much because what God has done is so foreign to us too. We have hard time getting on-board with a God who says love is sacrifice, because we don’t see what’s in it for us.

We like a kind, gentle and loving God as long as that love is based on how we define love which generally has it’s foundation in “what does it do for me?” instead of His kind of love that says, “So what about me? What can I do for someone else?” Bottom line, is that His kind of love is a little hard for us to focus on because it’s so foreign to us. Until He allows us to focus on it it just looks fuzzy and unreal.

And with love, like pretty much everything else with the Lord, is not about how we define it, but about how He defines it and not only defines it but does it. Because He doesn’t just tell us what to do and expect us to do it, He shows us what to do then just asks us to follow Him on the path He’s already cleared for us.

“On this account the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have authority to lay it down and I have authority to take it again. I have received this commandment of my Father.”

John 10:17-18

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Naomi entreating Ruth and Orpah to return to t...

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It’s funny because the last couple of days I keep reading, and rereading, the Book of Ruth. Even though you’d think that Esther would be the book of the week.

I have always loved the Book of Ruth. One of the first school reports I ever wrote when I was young was about the Book of Ruth. There was just something that resonated with me about a young woman who loved Naomi, her mother-in-law, so much that she would sacrifice the life she could have had by going back to her own family for the great unknown of following Naomi into the future.

Yet, there’s so much more to the story than that of Ruth, who gave up everything she could have because of her great love for Naomi, and, in the process, ended up with it all given back to her in spades. I mean, really, she ended up marrying one of the wealthiest guys around, who was taking care of her before she even realized it. And, by marrying Boaz she secured a life for both herself and her mother-in-law. Not only that, but she was King David’s great-grandmother and, as such, in the lineage of Jesus as well.

This week, as I read and reread the story, it occurred to me that the Book of Ruth isn’t actually about Ruth at all. It’s about the Lord’s faithfulness to Naomi. Now this thought may have crossed my mind before, but I don’t remember it, and it certainly didn’t have the impact on me that it did this week.

The book starts with Naomi, it ends with Naomi, and in between is the Lord’s provision for Naomi in the form of Ruth and Boaz. When you look a little more closely at the story, it becomes apparent that sometimes our lives are woven in such a way as to be a deep and abiding blessing for someone else.

In other words, the Lord may, and usually does, form our lives to fulfill His promise of care and provision for someone else, not necessarily ourselves. Just like He did with Ruth’s life which was formed in such a way as to provide for Naomi.

This doesn’t always sit well with any of us, we want our lives to be about us, not anyone else or the Lord’s provision to them. Yet, in scripture that’s all you really see, how the Lord uses His own people to take care of others, from Abraham who took care of Lot, to Joseph who took care of his family, to Moses who took care of the people of Israel, to Rahab who took care of the spies, the list goes on and on, showing how God uses the lives of His people to fulfill His promises of love, care and provision to others.

This idea really shouldn’t come as such a surprise to us, even though it does. Because after all, didn’t Jesus do the same?

“Then the women said to Naomi, ‘Praise the LORD who has not left you without a family redeemer today.'”

Ruth 4:14

 

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Old, historical map of ancient Thrace, mostly ...

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Time and distance give you an amazing platform on which to stand and view the map of your life. It’s filled with a lot of wriggly lines including forks in the road, dead ends, backtracking, all kinds of different paths because, let’s face it, none of us have made great decisions all the time.

Many times we’re trying to straighten out the roads on our personal life map by trying to make right the less than stellar choices we’ve made, which seems to bring into stark clarity that more than likely in our lives the great decisions are a rarity, rather than a common occurrence.

This idea of the decisions we make, especially when we’re young, where those decisions grow from and the effect they have on our lives, came into sharp focus for me recently when a video was played at my church featuring the youth group’s recent trip to Tsunami, a conference of believing speakers and musicians focused on giving teenagers tools to follow Christ.

I hear a lot about how difficult it is to be young in this day and age, but I think it’s difficult to be young and a believer in any day and age. Although in this era, there are a lot of behaviors that are more acceptable in our culture than there were maybe 40 or more years ago, the basic battle between what is God’s will for our lives and what we want is the same. And, our decisions, then our actions, are based on the same question, do we believe God or not?

It’s not enough to just believe in God, to understand that He is and is on some level in control of things. The decisions, the choices we make as young people, or even older adults, that have a foundation of just knowing that He is, are weak and more often than not, follow our own desires and wants. We know on some level that our decisions do not conform with what He wants, but our relationship with Him is so weak that we choose what we want, not what He wants.

It’s all about the relationship. Making the right decisions is all about believing God, period, not just believing in Him. It’s about knowing Him in a personal way, knowing who He is through His Word, knowing that He’s crazy in love with you and believing Him. It’s about having the faith, born out of your experience in your relationship with Him, to know that He will do what He says He will do. It’s about having a vibrant real relationship with the creator of the Universe and understanding that He doesn’t just exist in some far away corner of the Universe that has very little to do with you, but that He’s got your back all the time, which is really what makes believing in Christ as the Messiah different from every other world religion.

The God who created the Universe has your back, what an amazing concept. It’s only when you really get that, absorb it and realize it’s real that you will find that you begin to make your choices based on it. And, it is only then that you will see the road map of your life begin to follow where He leads because you’ll realize there is no life without Him.

“Abraham believe the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness.”

Genesis 15:6

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Have you ever had the opportunity to look at the names of God?

I had just that chance earlier this week. In an effort to prepare for this upcoming year in Bible study, those of us who are in leadership – a very loosie goosie term for all of us, especially me, to say the least – were given a list of the names of God and asked to choose one, research it and share what we found out when we all met for training.

Now, if you’re anything like me, this is a momentous task. I looked at the email with the names of God listed on it and there looked like there were a bazillion there. And, I just went, ‘no way, there is no way, with everything else going on, my son going back to school, me catching up with work among a trillion other things, that I’m going to have time to look up more than one of these.’

I literally put my head down right there in front of my computer screen, and said, “God you need to show me which name, because there is just no way.”

And, the amazing thing about God is that He did.

I looked back at the list and the name “El Hay” popped out. Now, I’d never seen this name of God before which is no big surprise, and I had no idea what it meant. But, being internet-centric, I immediately did a Google search.

The definition? The living God.

So the too numerous to mention references to God in the Bible seemed to run  through my mind, ‘He holds out His righteous right Hand’, ‘all day long He calls’, ‘I go to prepare a place for you’, ‘I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’. All of the references to Him that I could think of are in the present active tense, the tense of someone who is very much alive and active.

Then the picture of what Ezekiel saw when he encountered God for the first time came to mind. This God who Ezekiel saw can only be described as living. Not only did Ezekiel fall down with fear every time he saw Him, but God was so infused with light on His throne that Ezekiel could barely look at Him, couldn’t really see Him for all the light.

Then Isaiah 46: 5 came to mind,  “To whom will you compare me or count me equal?  To whom will you liken me that we may be compared?”

No one, because who can you compare a living God too? Absolutely no one.

But, the most amazing thing to me was that all the other names of God that show us His character, His nature, the way He cares for each one of us, hinge on the fact that He is living.

El Emunah, the faithful God, can’t be faithful if He doesn’t live.

Elohim Ozer Li, God my helper, can’t help us if He doesn’t exist.

Jehovah Jirah, my provider, can’t get you what you need when you need it if He’s not active and alive.

I could go on with every name of God, but the bedrock is the same, without the understanding that He is the living God, the only one, we have a really difficult time grasping the rest of His names and what they represent about who He is.

And that’s part of the problem we have isn’t it? Because we can’t see Him, touch Him, hear Him all the time, we tend to forget that He is living. We forget that He is alive and active, working all the time, caring about us all the time, seeing the lost, the outcast, the brokenhearted all the time.

And we don’t tend to treat Him as if He is living. We have a way of treating Him like He is an inanimate idol, or a god to be taken down off the shelf when times get rough and to be put back when times get better, instead of  a vibrant living God who we can have the best relationship of our lives with.

Because at the end of the day, that’s what this living God wants from us, the best relationship of our lives and He paid a heavy price to offer that to us.

“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.When can I go and meet with God?”

Psalm 42:2

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