Message: When Jesus went to the region of the Gerasenes he met the man
possessed by demons. The man initially ran toward Jesus and bowed before him,
but then he screeched at Jesus saying “why are you interfering with us?!”We
have no idea what the man’s name is because when Jesus asked the man his name,
the demons once again spoke on his behalf and said his name was “Legion because
we are many”. It really struck me that this man’s bondage had so consumed his
life that it literally became his identity and the demons were so large and in
charge that they were the ones speaking and acting on his behalf. The other thing
that really struck me about this story is how much the townspeople normalized
this man’s issues. He was so out of control that he couldn’t live civilly.
Since he could no longer be restrained by chains and shackles he lived in the
cemetery, but for some reason when Jesus cast out his demons and they saw him
clothed and sitting in his right mind it scared them so badly that they pleaded
with Jesus to go away and leave them alone. This seems like such a strange
response! Why wouldn’t they be happy for this man who was now able to go home
to his family?
Command: Stop letting the bondage speak or act
on our behalf!
Promise: There is no water (or barrier) that
Jesus has not already crossed to set us free, and he will not be moved by the “townspeople”
of our lives who fear our freedom.
Warning: Don’t let the areas of our lives that
have held us captive become our identity. We are not our sin issues, and we are
not the product of things that happened to us.
Application: I see the application in so many ways
here. We all have things in our lives that control us. It could be a bad
memory, a pattern of abuse, an addiction, a victim mentality, an illness, a behavioral
trait…the list is endless and some of them can seem more innocent or “normal”
to us. Like the townspeople in this story, there are people in our lives who
are resistant to our deliverance and change. When we change it throws off the
balance that people in our lives are used to. The change brings insecurity to
other people and exposes what is broken inside them. I carried many of these
labels for years and I wasn’t really aware that they were speaking on my behalf
and running my life. I still have a lot of things to work out but one of the
most important questions I started asking myself was “how would a healthy
person respond?” I don’t want to be known for my issues or my traumas so I’m
continually asking God to help me process through all of it layer by layer.
Message: Well I’m still sucked into the story
of Jacob so here I go again in Genesis! Jacob is about to see his brother face
to face for the first time since he stole his blessing and fled. He is now so
paranoid that his brother might try to kill him that he split up his wives and
servant wives and children and he sent a generous amount of flocks ahead hoping
this will appease his brother. When he finally sees Esau he hugs him and kisses
him. Esau is happy to see him but wants to know what’s up with all of the
animals. When Jacob tells him it’s a gift for him because he is overflowing
with blessing, Esau says “no thanks, I have plenty.” Jacob insists so Esau
accepts the gift and then immediately wants Jacob and his entourage to hit the
road and follow him home to Seir. Jacob tells him to go ahead and that he would
follow at a slower pace, but then he takes another road and settles somewhere
else. Anyone else confused by this move?
Application: Once again I skipped the command, promise
and warning. We’re just observing behaviors here. I think it’s interesting that
Jacob spent SO much time obsessing over his brother’s response that he was
absolutely paranoid. When he finally saw his brother he was well received and
his brother clearly wanted him to go home with him. It seems that Esau did in
fact let loose of that yoke and was doing very well. Interestingly enough,
Jacob is holding all of the blessings and favor of God but his soul is still
not ok. He appears to be the one still in bondage to the yoke that was originally
put over Esau. Even though the blessings
that were spoken said that Esau would serve his brother, Jacob continues to
refer to himself as “servant” and his brother as “master”. I’m completely
speculating here but it seems he might still be stuck in his guilt. He tried to
buy his brother’s favor and even though his brother showed genuine signs of restoration,
Jacob took another road. I have seen this in relationships. One person is
unable to get past their guilt even when the other has healed. The guilt looms
over them and makes them paranoid so they duck out of the relationship
entirely. I see myself on both sides of this story and I just want to take note
here that you can be victimized and heal from it like Esau did, or you can get
stuck in your guilt and self-destruct. I’m not saying that Jacob self-destructed
but his behavior is peculiar. We all do this when we’re guilty. We act weird,
get paranoid, try to earn or buy relationships or avoid them altogether.
Message: It seems I’m stuckin Genesis
lately but I can’t help but follow this interesting storyline. If you remember
back to where Jacob received the stolen blessing, his father said that he would
be his brother’s master. When he blessed Esau he also told Esau that he would
serve his brother… UNTIL the day he would decide to break the yoke. After he went
on his own rebellion to marry the women his father didn’t want him to marry we
don’t hear anything further about him. We don’t know what went down with Esau
or whether he ever decided he wanted to be free from the bondage. It seems like
there is an injustice going on because God honors all of the blessings promised
over Jacob and he prospers even under a crooked master. Now suddenly Jacob is
anticipating seeing his brother and several times refers to Esau as “my master”
and to himself as “his servant”. He is wealthy from all of the blessings he
stole but can’t enjoy any peace from it. He separates his household into
separate camps in fear of a possible attack and sends gifts ahead hoping to win
over his brother. This is when he ends up in a camp alone and he wrestles with “a
man” in an unusual encounter which is later described as him being face to face
with God. Jacob demands a blessing and refuses to let go until he gets it. I
find this interesting because he has already been blessed right? He received so
much blessing that I don’t know what else he could possibly ask for, but he was
a fraud and he knew it. The “man” responds by asking Jacob his name. Not
because his fraud wasn’t already known, but to me this looks like a critical moment
of honesty and acknowledgment. Kind of like an addict who finally lets go of
denial and acknowledges the truth about what he is doing. This seems important
because although he was receiving the blessings he stole, he couldn’t really
thrive because he was carrying guilt and fear from the dishonesty. He must have
felt like an imposter in spite of the blessings. After this the “man” changes
his name from Jacob (which means “the deceiver”) to “Israel”. Then he blesses him in his own name.
Application: Since I went on with so much detail
on message portion I’m going to skip to the application. My personal application
of this is to ask myself the hard questions. The ones that question my motives
and force me to be honest with myself so that I can be healed!
Message: Jacob had marked a large stone as a monument to mark his covenant with God. He renamed the town Bethel before showing up at his Uncle Laban’s place.He endured a lot of dishonesty, trickery and unfair treatment in all of those years but God did miraculous things to bless Jacob because of his honor at Bethel. When the turmoil worsened with Laban, Jacob took off with his family. When Laban chased after him God showed up in a dream to Laban warning him not to harm Jacob. After this the two of them built another rock pile monument and agreed that as they parted ways they would never pass those monuments with ill intent towards each other.
Command: Honor God and stay faithful no matter what turmoil and unfair treatment you have to endure.
Promise: God will protect us in ways that we could never protect ourselves!
Warning: Don’t allow corrupt or unfair treatment to change our response. We represent God and we work for him.
Application: As I read this I thought about seasons in my life that have been unfair and full of turmoil. There was so much temptation to respond accordingly, but God was not going to let me get away with using any of it as an excuse. I felt the weight of my covenant with every decision and although things were really tough God didn’t allow me to use any excuses to act out even though I really wanted to. He was training me and teaching me to rise to another standard. Not to elevate myself as a “good person” but because in order for him to bless me in spite of it all, I needed to honor the covenant I made with him. God is faithful and he will allow us to go through the struggles for our own good, but he will honor the stand we make to honor our covenant with him.
Message: As I was reading about Jacob’s
interaction with his Uncle Laban I started to see a continued pattern of
trickery going on. Previously Jacob manipulated and tricked his way into
stealing Esau’s blessing and then he runs away to escape the problem and finds
another one. Laban tricks and manipulates Jacob into marrying the wrong daughter
and then doubles the work time for him to marry the other one. After Jacob
marries both sisters the favor went to only one of them and she started having
babies while the other sat in envy. Once again, to solve a fertility problem
Rachel tells Jacob to sleep with her servant to try to fulfill her desire for a
baby. Sound familiar? This is exactly what Jacob’s grandparents did when Sarah
was unable to conceive. The madness continued until finally the cycle was
broken when Rachel finally conceived.
Command: Have we learned nothing yet? God’s
promises are not to be manipulated! It will only bring on more jealousy and
Promise: God will bless in his timing when we
surrender our plans and choose his.
Warning: Our manipulations causes heartache
and prolonged waiting!
Application: As I read this I really saw theissue
of personal and family patterns that cause destruction. We tend to repeat what
we grew up in even when we don’t realize it. Running away from the problem only
makes it worse. The only answer is to surrender our plans and trust that what
God has for us is far more wonderful than we could ever concoct out of our own
doing. We talked about this last week when we saw Jacob do it, but since we are
talking about patterns and cycles, I thought it was worth repeating!
Message: In just this one chapter we see a
large summary of Jesus’ ministry beginning with John the Baptist preparing the
way, the baptism of Jesus, a confirmation from God about his purpose, Jesus in
the wilderness, Jesus preaching repentance and gathering disciples, Jesus
speaking with an undeniable authority and then the miracles.
Command: Follow God’s process and don’t try to
cut it short.
Promise: God is faithful
Warning: Temptation, distraction and talking
Will try to push us off-course
Application: As I pulled all of these things apart
I saw how Jesus, who was perfect still walked out a process before ministry began.
Some of this prepared him but I can’t help but wonder how much of it was for
the sake of those watching him. We’re all in a stage of the process and people
around us and those closest to us are watching to see how we handle each stage.
I’m often impatient with the process. I want to do things to help it along.
Message: What stood out to me in Genesis 28
was the fact that Esau was paying attention to the fact that his parents steered
Jacob away from the Canaanite women and instead sent him off to his uncle to
find a wife. Since this is what his parents wanted, he did the exact opposite and married one of Ishmael’s
daughters. I have seen this behavior with kids and if I’m really honest, I can
recognize that same rebellion within myself. I didn’t marry out of rebellion,
but I have definitely felt a rebellious streak come over me when I am bitter
toward someone in authority. I have definitely felt this way at work before!
Command: We don’t hear anything more about
Esau after this, but the command I would go back to is the one we read
yesterday when his father told him that he was to serve his brother.
Promise: The promise also draws back from yesterday’s
reading because his father also told him that when he is ready, he will shake
off the yoke. To me this is far more powerful than it sounds!
Warning: The warning here was not to marry the
Application: I felt busted on this one today! As I
mentioned in the message portion, I have definitely felt a streak of rebellion come
over me when an authority figure has offended me. It makes me want to do the
exact opposite of what they are saying-even if what they are advising makes
perfect sense! What IS that??? Obviously as an adult I don’t have a lot of
authority figures over my life. I have a boss, we all have police officers and government
officials, and we have spiritual authorities like pastors and mentors. Just in
case you might be struggling to relate, the authority figure doesn’t
necessarily have to be one that rules over you.It could be an authority
like a manager of owner over a place that you are visiting. Maybe you
accidentally broke a rule and were corrected (or even just politely advised!).
Maybe you were denied something because of a rule. Maybe you received a late fee
or were denied access to something. Whatever it was it may have caused an
offense. Now you’re irritated that you were called out or felt rejected and you
want to rebel. I have definitely felt this on more occasions than I’d like to
admit. I’m not an “act out” kind of person though so I tend to feel it inwardly
but still comply. I have a mousepad on my desk at work with Colossians 3:23
written on it reminding me to do my work as unto the Lord and not men. I need
this reminder because often times I am frustrated with the system, and the
people that manage it even though I deeply care about them on a personal level.
When I am offended by the way things are managed I feel a tension inside
because I know the right thing to do, but because of my offense I really want
to rebel against it. I had to apologize to my office manager one day because
she came and asked me (very politely) to do something a certain way because it
would benefit someone else in the office who has a pattern of disrespect to our
coworkers and often manipulates and demands her own way. The behavior is
usually justified or ignored so I had an offense built already. When the
request was politely made by my office manager I was immediately offended so I
gave several very logical reasons why I couldn’t or shouldn’t have to do it
that way. My office manager heard me out, but deep inside I knew that there was
no reason I couldn’t do what she asked me to do. I felt deeply convicted and
had to go apologize. I let her know that it was disrespectful of me to refute
her request just because I was offended by it. I immediately felt better and I
have found that since then I have an easier time with requests like that. I
still have feelings about the other coworker’s behavior, but I am not working
for her. I am working for God and my attitude matters. Even if nobody else can
Message: Rebekah manipulated her favorite son,
Jacob to trick his father into giving him the first-born blessing. He blessed
him by making him the master over his brother and guaranteed him an abundance
of grain and wine. When Esau begged for just one blessing his father said “you
will live away from the riches of the earth, and away from the dew of the heaven
above. You will live by your sword and you will serve your brother. But when
you decide to be free you will shake his yoke from your neck”.
Command: Live by the terms you have been given.
Promise: When you are ready to be free you
will break out of the bondage.
Warning: You will live by your sword until you
are ready for freedom.
Application: I have read this story plenty of
times but today something really jumped out at me! In this story we see the
anguish in Esau as he realizes he lost his blessing. The blessing was built to
favor Jacob and nothing was left for Esau, and even though he deceived his
father to gain it, it was made very clear that the blessing was irrevocable. When
Esau begged his father for just one blessing his father told him that he would
serve his brother, live by his sword and wouldn’t have the grain and wine
blessings, BUT when HE decided to be free he would shake his yoke from his neck.
That last line says so much! As I look at my own life I see SO many things that
were decided for me. Things that were done to me that I didn’t get to choose.
There are also some things I naively walked into. This is true of all of us in
completely different ways. We have all been victimized in some way and that has
the potential to make us a slave to the emotions and limitations that come with
being victimized. Like Jacob, when I decide to be free (in so many ways I
already have) I shake off that yoke of bondage. Bondage can mean SO many
different things for all of us but it all stems from how we respond to the
people who have violated us. This isn’t to suggest that we treat the violation
like it wasn’t painful or unfair. In the story the father didn’t blow it off
like it wasn’t terrible. Instead he empowered his son to accept it and then
rise above it. What could have held him as a slave his entire life had a new
potential but the choice was all on Esau to shake off the yoke of bondage. We
all have that choice too. Some terrible things have happened to most of us.
Things out of our control. We can choose to focus on being a victim, or we can
rise up and shake off the yoke of bitterness and unforgiveness that holds us captive.
My own application for this is to pay attention to my own responses to unfair
situations. I need to accept them for what they are, but not allow my response
to hold me back.
Message: The betrayal of Jesus was necessary
for the plan, but it still had natural consequences on everyone involved.
Promise: Everyone who drinks of the blood will
confirm the covenant between God and his people.
Warning: “How terrible it will be for the one
who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he were never born”.
Application: As I read about Judas’s plot and
betrayal I couldn’t help but think about how necessary it was for this to happen.
Even though God knew it would happen, and even though it was necessary there
were still consequences. Jesus warned ahead that it would be devastating to the
betrayer. This definitely proved to be true. In my head I heard the commonly
used quote “everything happens for a reason”. I personally hate that quote, but
what I believe to be true is that negative things happen in our lives. They
contribute to our growth and are necessary but they still very much carry the
weight of consequences. This was real for Judas and it’s real in our lives too.
Message: Reading the two parables about the kingdom of heaven, and then the judgment day scenario in Matthew 25 I realized that I have always heard them discussed separately with individual meanings. While this is true, I also realized the importance of looking at all three meanings together as one and relating them to our character. The kingdom of God is us and all of these character traits are what we should be doing so that we will result on his right hand at judgment day. The first one with the ten virgins was about being prepared for the future in advance and not waiting until it’s too late to prepare. The next one is about the three servants who were given different amounts of money to invest while the master was away. Two of them invested at different capacities but one refused to invest at all. He buried it and then blamed the master for it. Then there is the judgment day scenario where he is separating the lambs from the sheep as he asks whether they fed, clothed and visited those in need. All of these character traits go together. Believers are supposed to be lenders and not borrowers. We’re supposed to be the ones helping and supporting but we can’t do that if we aren’t organized and prepared in advance. If we are the ones always in need because we weren’t investing and we weren’t preparing in advance for things that will come ahead. Obviously this is a spiritual preparation but it’s also a physical preparation. If we aren’t good stewards of our time, our finances and our abilities we can’t fulfill the things he is requiring of us. God has equipped us with what we need if we will physically, spiritually and emotionally. There is no excuse for laziness according to these passages.
Command: Be prepared, invest and then help others
Promise: God will recognize his sheep for these characteristics.
Warning: Laziness, procrastination and self-preservation will not be rewarded or recognized as sheep in his kingdom
Application: As I read all of this together I see that God has given us the tools to succeed. Not just for our enjoyment in life, but because he expects us to use our skill and success to help others and teach them his ways. If I am not doing these things I won’t be able to succeed and I sure won’t be able to help anyone else succeed. I can apply this to so many areas of my life where I keep asking God for help but I have yet to apply these principles that he has already equipped me with. I have business ideas and creative plans that can be used to inspire and make money if I would just discipline myself to plan it all out. My health is another investment that I need to take seriously. Today I feel convicted to sit and map out some short-term and long term goals so that I can start doing something and ask God to direct and bless it.
Message: Proverbs 26 gives several scenarios for how and how not to interact with a fool.
Command: Don’t be a fool, trust a fool, argue with a fool, honor a fool or expect wisdom to come from a fool.
Application: Today I eliminated the “promise” and the “warning” steps simply because this entire Proverb is all about how to and how not to interact with a fool. Of course, as we read this we all assume the fool is someone else other than ourselves. Hopefully this is so, but I think it’s fair to say we have all played the fool at one point or another. When we’re not the fool, chances are we’re interacting with someone who is having a foolish moment, or unfortunately, a foolish season of life. One of the mistakes I saw very clearly while reading this was the issue of arguing with someone who is acting a fool. In my mind I always think that if I just try to explain myself I can convince someone where I’m coming from but it doesn’t work that way. You simply can’t reason with someone who is being unreasonable so arguing is pointless. In the process of arguing I have definitely looked like the fool and probably became one also. My application today is to first of all, try no to be the fool! Second of all it’s to recognize those moments where I need to hold my peace.
Message: The religious were being publicly rebuked and exposed as
Jesus spoke to the people and told them that the religious only appeared to be
clean on the surface as they made a show of themselves acting righteous while demanding
the people to follow after a level of righteousness that they themselves were
not inwardly keeping.
Command: Follow the message that the religious
teach, but don’t follow what they do. Care about our inward condition more than
our outward appearance and don’t elevate our status or allow anyone else to
because we were all intended to be equals.
Promise: Those who humble themselves will be
Warning: Those who exalt themselves will be
Application: We have the potential to turn literally any
good thing into a show if we aren’t doing it for the right reasons. Sure, our
good works can still produce some good things but if our motives are wrong we
will become bitter, ugly people as we do good things. We might help someone but
we probably won’t reach them at a heart level. We can even continue on this
awesome reading plan and learn a ton of things but still act like a self-righteous
jerk to people around us if it doesn’t change us on the inside. I have thought
about that often and my personal application to all of this is to do the things
that are called “righteous”, but in every one of those things I need to submit
my heart before God and ask him to help me do them for his honor and not for
the opportunity to look good or gain favor with anyone else. Any time those
kinds of feelings rise up in anything I do I ask God to help me. A while back I
really comprehended the scriptures in 1 Peter and in James that tells us that
God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. I really need God and his
favor on my life so I don’t ever want to position myself in a way that would
make God resist me. Even if I gained the favor and honor of people, it just
wouldn’t be worth that kind of trade.
Message: God’s promise to Abraham was to make nations from him. He had already waited a long period of time, tried manipulating things his own way and then 14 long years later he finally received the son he was promised. Now his boy is older and a relationship is established. He is old enough to talk and comprehend well enough that he questions his father when they are going up the mountain to make a sacrifice…without an animal for that sacrifice. God is requiring him to sacrifice his son which would be hard enough for him to wrestle with himself, but he actually got as far as to tie up his son and place him on the altar. No doubt Isaac picked up what was going on and was probably vocally and physically fearful. I feel like the guilt of experiencing his son’s feelings of betrayal would be harder to handle than even his own feelings of loss. When he finally picks up the knife the angel called out to stop him. In this story what I really got out of this is that God will promise us things, but we will also be tested in the very thing he promised. The test won’t be easy because God needs us to know we will be trustworthy for the promise he gives us so that we don’t abuse it. I have heard many people preach this story with the idea that Abraham knew all along that God would provide a sacrifice other than Isaac. I believe he probably hoped that but the test wouldn’t have been a real test if he wasn’t 100% willing to move forward. The promise God made Abraham was extraordinary so the sacrificial test was equally extraordinary.
Command: Be willing to sacrifice back to God any gift or any promise that God gives us.
Promise: God is faithful so if we trust him with the promise we can trust him in the testing too.
Warning: If Abraham had held back during his time of testing we would not be reading about his entire lineage right now. Who knows if we would even exist?! Our own promises from God hang in the balance if we aren’t willing to be put to the test.
Application: It occurred to me as I read this that God will test us the hardest in the very things he has promised us. None of us are ready for the promises God has for us until we are tested and proven. The harder we hold tight to them by trying to control the outcome ourselves, the more we resist the very promise God wants to give us. I have seen myself stubbornly fight against God’s hand because circumstances seemingly threaten the very promise he has given me and I feel like it’s my responsibility to preserve it. There are areas of my life I have literally had to tell God that I needed his help in cooperating with his plan so that I don’t stifle it with my own control. If it feels like it’s being pulled from under me, this is the time I need to tell God I surrender it. Even if that means I am to let go of dreams and desires that I believe to my core that God has given me so that he has the opportunity to resurrect them. I read the Joanna Gaines story about her dream to start a cute little antique shop. It was thriving but her children were young and her husband needed her help with his business. She knew God was telling her to shut it down. After she shut it down and was locking the door for the last time God spoke to her again and told her to watch what he would do with that sacrifice. A few years later Magnolia was born and now people travel to Waco, Texas to visit the town that was dreamed up by Joanna Gaines. I cried as I read about her trust and obedience to God with her dream. This sacrifice story is very different from Abraham’s but it was her promise. We weren’t called to father nations like Abraham was, but we were called to all kinds of other things and each of us has a different promise.
Message: God made Abraham & Sarah a
promise. It took time so they took matters into their own hands and tried to
produce the miracle on their own. Ishmael was the result and years later the
promised Isaac was born at exactly the time God said it would happen. In the middle
of celebrating their miracle Sarah’s focus became distracted by Ishmael and his
slave mother mocking her promised son.
Command: Stay the course! God is faithful!
Promise: God will still bless us in spite of
Warning: Don’t let your past mistakes distract
you from the celebration of God’s faitfulnes!
Application: As I read this story about God’s
faithful in giving him a son, I see where Sarah’s insecurity and her poor
decision came back to haunt her. She was in the middle of celebrating her own
promise of Isaac when she caught sight of her previous poor decision mocking
her promise. She became distracted by this and enraged. I see this like
symbolically in my own life where my past decisions came back to mock me even
in my blessing. In this case, it happened to be a child and God still blessed
Ishmael because of his promise to Abraham. God is faithful and even when we
screw up his plan he will bless us!
Message: In normal human nature people desire
authority and power, and rulers assert their authority over people, but God
intended us to lead by serving and this is what Jesus modeled. This goes
against the grain of our selfish desire to control.
Command: Whoever wants to be a leader among
you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become
Promise: God prepares places of leadership for
those he chooses.
Warning: Nobody can choose honor for
themselves. We can choose to behave honorably, but we can’t make anyone honor
us.Those who desire places of honor will endure suffering.
Application: As I read this I thought about the
manipulation that went into the request of John & James’ mother, and I saw
the ignorance in the response from John & James. They were focused on the
place of honor and they seemingly had no clue what Jesus was talking about when
he warned them that to have that kind of honor they would have to suffer the
kind of suffering that Jesus suffered. Most of us aren’t looking to rule the
world, but there are areas in our lives that we all desire to be trusted in a
place of leadership. Some of us want to lead people and some of us just want to
control decisions that we feel equipped to handle. The litmus test for our
desire is to challenge our motives. Are we really interested in serving people for
their good, or do we want to be recognized for our abilities and/or do we want
to be the one in charge of making decisions? Some of us are just as
manipulative as the mother in this story and our denial just might prove that
very point! Our desire for honor comes from our insecurity, but there is no
room for insecurity in leadership. Leadership comes naturally when we are
genuinely looking to serve and not to take control. People will naturally trust
and follow us when we are that kind of person. That’s why there were giant
crowds following Jesus. He didn’t have a promoter. He was promoting the welfare
of people wherever he went. My personal challenge is to examine the areas of my
life where I desire to lead and challenge my motives.
Message: Two angels came to stay with Lot on
the night before they were to destroy Sodom & Gomorrah. They urged him to get
all of his relatives and loved ones to come with him and escape the land before
they were to destroy it. Lot seemingly drug his feet, his relatives did not
take him seriously and they were all left behind. Lot, his wife and daughters
were saved at the last second.
Command: Warn the people that we love that destruction
Promise: If we take seriously the warnings of God
we will find safety in the middle of destruction, and our influence will help
Warning: When God warns us that destruction is
ahead, we can’t drag our feet and continue to linger in it.
Application: I saw so many things in this story.
Normally the focus is on Lot’s wife, who was turned to salt for looking back,
but what I really noticed is that this warning came to Lot only because Abraham
asked God to save him. Lot didn’t really seem to want to leave and when he gave
the warning to his loved ones they didn’t take him seriously. And why should
they if he was lingering around and showing no urgency of his own to get out? Not
only was he not motivated to get out, this passage talks about how gracious God
was with his lingering. He waited to destroy the city after Lot finally got
out, but the passage says that the angels had to grab the hands of Lot, his
wife and their daughters and seemingly drag them out of there just in time. At
the last minute Lot even disputed their directions of going into the mountains and
instead negotiated that they spare a nearby small town on his behalf just to
get him out of the city. I wonder how different this story might have been for
the rest of his loved ones if Lot hadn’t been so conflicted about leaving this
place. My personal application for this story is to identify the areas of my
life that God is trying to call me out of, but I keep lingering. Most of us are
saved because somebody prayed for us. We may know who, or we may not but somebody
was Abraham in our lives. Because of this God has been gracious, but he’s
calling us out of some areas of destruction that are headed right for us. Sodom
and Gomorrah represents a perverse, sexually immoral place, but maybe the
things in our lives aren’t literally of a sensual nature. Maybe it’s something
else that we’re holding onto or lingering with just a little longer. The people
around us may not know about the danger headed for them either and even though
we tell them destruction is coming, they can’t take us seriously because we’re
still lingering in some things, unmotivated to get out. Today I’m asking God to
show me those areas in my life that I’m hanging onto. Not just for my own sake,
but also for the sake of people that are in my circle of influence.
Message: Servant was forgiven of his large debt
but demanded someone else to be punished until he could pay back his small
Promise: God forgave us for everything. We
could say this was a pretty large debt.
Warning: If we don’t forgive other people God
will not forgive our sin debt.
Application: This passage trips me up every time
because I know that to forgive someone I have to let go of my “right” to be
offended and angry. In the moment I don’t want to because I see my hurt and anger
as justified. There is no question that the offense happened, and God is not
asking me to deny that there was an offense. He is reminding me that when he
released my debt that I needed to follow his example. This is not to be
confused with healthy boundaries. Forgiveness does not mean we have to allow ourselves
to be abused mistreated, or vulnerable. It means we don’t hope for or plan for
Message: God made a covenant with Abraham and
that covenant included both sides keeping their word in that covenant.
Command: Obey the covenant
Promise: God promised Abraham he would make many
nations out of him through his wife, Sarah.
Warning: Any male who fails to be circumcised will
be cut off from the covenant family for breaking it.
Application: Reading about this covenant made me
think of all the promises in the bible that we as Christians like to hold claim
to. Every one of those promises includes an act of obedience. In this case,
this was the second time God promised Abraham he was going to make nations out
of him. The first time Abraham and Sarah couldn’t see it happening in the
proper time and they doubted it could happen through them so they took it into
their own hands when Sarah told Abraham to sleep with her servant and Abraham
did. At this point in scripture, Ishmael was now 13 years old and Sarah had
still not become pregnant when God came to him a second time to make this
promise. I’m sure it had to have seemed hopeless at this point. I relate to
this as I sit here thinking about certain promises I have been waiting for for
years and I think about all of the times I have tried to take things into my
own hands to make it work. All God has ever asked of me during this time is for
my obedience. He has not held me responsible for making these promises happen.
Just my obedience. Even if it takes years. Even if it seems like it will never
happen. I think as Christians we often get mixed up with the fact that
salvation is free and cost us nothing to obtain it, but once we accept his gift
of salvation we enter a covenant with God which requires our obedience. Today I
am asking God to show me the areas of my life where I am not walking in
obedience. I’m not talking about mistakes or areas where we fall short. I’m
talking specifically about things I am completely ignoring whether intentional
or unintentional. I want my covenant with Jesus to be marked with faithful
obedience. Not perfection. Just obedience and the willingness to continue
striving through areas that aren’t in full obedience.
Message: God gave Abram a promise that he would make him the father of
nations. This promise looked like it wouldn’t ever end so Sarai stepped in to
try to get it done.
Command: Don’t try to manipulate the things God
Promise: You will be the father of many nations.
Application: I see this problem over and over in
my life! I may not send another woman to bed with my husband but my impatience,
or my lack of vision definitely causes me to pray for solutions and execute them
in my desperation to see something happen. Instead I need to remind myself to
ask God what he needs me to do (or not do) to cooperate with HIS plan.
We’ve all heard the term “rules were meant to be broken”. It sounds rebellious but when we get to the heart of things we find that rules were meant to protect and help people. When they get distorted and placed above people, they lose their value and they become an object of abuse to people rather than a source of protection.
1. Message: For every rule created there is a back story behind it. Behind the back story lies a misinterpretation and often an exaggeration.
2. Command: Honor God with our hearts by looking to the heart of his commands and how they affect the people they were written for.
3. Promise: Obedience from the heart leads to understanding the purpose of the law.
4. Warning: Every plant not planted by Heavenly father will be uprooted.
5. Application: As I read this I became aware of some rules that were made to care for people, but we have gotten the intent backwards and placed more value in the rules than the people they were created to serve. This leads to mistreating people for the sake of obeying the rule. My challenge today is that I would find the rules I have obsessed about and pay attention to the intent of the rules. Mainly, what the rules were intended to accomplish for people and not just a desire to check off an empty box.