WEEK TWO, 2018 – INSIGHTS with Pastor Ray, reading thru the Bible

DAY SIX – Genesis 12-13

Abram (Abraham) was the first missionary–not in the traditional sense, mind you; but he was sent by God to a new and strange land. He had already migrated with his father Haran from Ur of Chaldea to Haran, which lies north and slightly east of modern Israel (old Canaan). With Haran now deceased, Yahweh God spoke to Abram for the first time, instructing him to leave his people and go to a place Yahweh would show him. His wife Sarai and nephew Lot went with him. So they entered Canaan and began their nomadic journey from there, down to Egypt to escape famine, and then back again, at which time Abram and Lot separated due to their abundance of livestock. Living in the hill country of what is now Israel, Abram was still going on that original word Yahweh had uttered to him in Haran. That is amazing in itself, that one’s whole life might be directed by a single encounter. How awesome is Yahweh God? Enough to change the world through one obedient man. We just left the world of the patriarchs behind–the period from Adam to the flood–and we are entering the world of God’s preparation for the salvation of mankind. This great period will take us all the way through the Old Testament to the New. It begins with a man–Abram–and will soon encompass a small family with a miracle son. As we read through the Bible it will become evident that the Lord Yahweh makes and keeps covenant with humans just like us. Mind you, we don’t make covenants with God, He always takes the initiative and then upholds it with the Word of His Power. Once Abram had separated from Lot, Yahweh God spoke again, this time to promise him descendants as numerous as the sand of the sea; and to give him the land throughout which he was journeying. Abram would never really own any of it, but he would die with the promise of God in his heart. Romans 4:13  For the promise to Abraham and to his offspring that he should be heir of the world wasn’t through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. 

Romans 4:18-22  Besides hope, Abraham in hope believed, to the end that he might become a father of many nations, according to that which had been spoken, “So will your offspring be.” 19  Without being weakened in faith, he didn’t consider his own body, already having been worn out, (he being about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20  Yet, looking to the promise of God, he didn’t waver through unbelief, but grew strong through faith, giving glory to God, 21  and being fully assured that what he had promised, he was also able to perform. 22  Therefore it also was “credited to him for righteousness.” 

Imagine what our Lord might have for you in this life if you combine hope with faith in God’s promises and remain faithful and obedient to God. Later we will see that Abraham always had his eye on something greater… and farther… than his present circumstances.

DAY SEVEN –  Genesis 14-16

When forced to defend his interests, Abram entered a conflict between kings–five against four. The king of Sodom had already been defeated and had fled; so Abram gave pursuit to the other kings with three hundred eighteen men from his household. He put the opposing army to flight, attacking them at night, and brought back all, including his nephew, who was living in Sodom. The king of Sodom offered him all the spoil as his reward, but Abram flatly refused, “lest you should say, ‘I made Abram rich.'” In the very next scene, Abram is asking Yahweh God, “What will YOU give me?” Indeed. Abram really wanted an heir–his own son–but no one could give that to him except God. Continue the conversation, “Your heir will come from your own body.” And Abram believed God. It’s that simple. He believed, but he did ask, “And how will I know?” And God made a COVENANT with Abram. NOTE: God made the covenant. God always initiates; we respond in faith. Enter Hagar, Sarai’s maid; she indeed will be the mother of Abram’s offspring, but Yahweh God did not say that. Now the whole project seems to be at risk; Sarai, jealous of her own pregnant maid, torments her, and Hagar flees. But the story is not over yet.

The angel says to Hagar in the wilderness, “Where have you come from, and where are you going?” Hagar’s response: “I am running away from my mistress.” Whoops. That’s only half an answer. “Where are you going?” To that Hagar has no answer. Running away from trouble is hardly ever a solution; it only compounds the problem. If GOD can give Abram an heir without human interference, then Hagar can find relief without running away. The angel sends her back with the understanding that she is pregnant, the child will be a boy, and God will bless them. When we cannot find a solution, sometimes it is better to slow down, believe, and trust the Lord for His grace in the situation. “Where are you going?” Unless you can answer that question, stay put! God’s word prevails in God’s time. Can we get that? Can we trust Him?

DAY EIGHT – Genesis 17-19

Imagine being called upon to partner with Yahweh God to save the world! And yet this is exactly what happened with Abram; God even changed his name to Abraham to signify that he would be the father of many nations. But there was more; not only did the Lord make covenant with this righteous man, He put a mark on his flesh to demonstrate that Abraham’s offspring through the generations were favored by God. This was the beginning of male circumcision. Abraham was ninety-nine years old! No sooner had this taken place, than the Lord God came to see Abraham and had lunch with Him, then tarried to reveal the plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. At this time Abraham uttered a question that has become a foundation for prayer: “Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?” So the covenant is in place, an heir is determined–for the Lord reminded and reassured Abraham that within a year Sarah would have a son, the BEGINNING of God’s salvation. Salvation–an heir to be born. Judgement–Sodom and Gomorrah to be overthrown. For more than five thousand years the generations have come and gone; yet the joy of laughter has been heard in the tents of those favored by Yahweh God, and cries of desperation in the tents of the wicked under impending destruction. Something is happening; things are moving quickly; God’s plans are falling into place rapidly. Look around you–do you see it?

What about your partnership with God? Yahweh raised up Abraham and his descendants after him to bear the revelation of a Savior. Are we not raised up to bear the revelation of that Savior to our world? And how do we do it? We do it by living out our purpose, led by the Holy Spirit, humbled and surrendered into His wonderful hands. We do it by getting up and showing up. We do it by welcoming God’s intervention in our lives, as Abraham did the day he served lunch to God! And we do it by praying mightily every day for God’s will to be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

DAY NINE – Genesis 20-23

“God is with you in all that you do.” (Gen. 21:22) These words were spoken to Abraham by a pagan king. This is the same King Abimelech that Abraham deceived and Sarah lied to! It almost got the king killed when he took Sarah as wife, but Yahweh had mercy on him and warned him in a dream to give Sarah back to her husband. Abraham left that place, but sometime later Abimelech came to him and spoke the words quoted above. Ask yourself: How did Abimelech conclude that God was with Abraham? Do we imagine that our friends and associates might say of us, “God is with you in all that you do”? I certainly pray so. After all, Jesus did say to His disciples that after the Holy Spirit comes upon us we will be His witnesses. I think we have underestimated the meaning of ‘witness.’ It comes from the Bible word for martyr–a person who is willing to die for what he believes. I do suppose that if we are putting our life on the line in behalf of Jesus and His kingdom, telltale signs are going to follow as a witness to the Lord Jesus. Abimelech asked of Abraham an oath that he would not in the future do harm to the king or his posterity; he feared the God of Abraham! Oh friends, pray to the Lord that we rightly represent Him so that the fear of God may return to this generation.

Well, Isaac (Laughter) was born exactly at the appointed time as God had indicated, and a few years later Abraham discovered that Yahweh Provides. It wasn’t a fun discovery. It meant binding his loved son and placing him on an altar to be sacrificed–just as Yahweh had instructed. Only at the last moment did the Lord provide a substitute and then assert that, because Abraham was willing to give up his most treasured son, he would be blessed seven ways from Sunday! You’ve read the story. Read it one more time before you move on, because Father Yahweh wants to bless you as he blessed Abraham. Even if the Lord is not asking of you specifically at this moment, do reaffirm your absolute love and loyalty to His Kingdom.

DAY TEN – Genesis 24-26

When Abraham was old; and after Sarah had passed, he commissioned his oldest servant, the man who ruled over all that he had, to go to Abraham’s family and find a wife for Isaac. There were two prohibitions: 1) don’t take a Canaanite wife; and 2) don’t take my son back to where I came from. Abraham seemed almost violent in his instructions, but why? Why wouldn’t it be okay to take Isaac back to Paddan Aram? Because of God’s oath. God swore to Abraham to multiply his seed and give them the land of Canaan, in which Abraham wandered as an alien for most of his life. It was God’s Word which held Abraham fast in his instructions. God has plans for us which always have an ‘upward’ and forward call; we are on our way somewhere, and His revelation to us beckons us onward…not backward!

The rest of this chapter is one of the most beautiful love stories ever written, for it was planned beforehand by the Lord Himself. God’s angel went ahead and nudged history for the purpose of God’s Creative Plan to fulfill His Word to Abraham. His promises and oaths rewarded Abraham’s faith and obedience with a wife for Isaac and the second step of Messiah’s first advent. From the man had to come a family, and Isaac (Laughter) was God’s man for that! So in comes Rebekeh. Twenty years later, the twins are born, and conflict is born with them. Yet God is seen time and again directing outcomes to keep His promises. We mustn’t ever let our circumstances cause our faith in and trust of God to be eroded. On the contrary, while life may resemble a roller coaster, the very world hangs on the word of God’s power!

A note from Isaac’s story: Genesis 26:2-5  Yahweh appeared to him, and said, “Don’t go down into Egypt. Live in the land I will tell you about. 3  Live in this land, and I will be with you, and will bless you. For I will give to you, and to your offspring, all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. 4  I will multiply your offspring as the stars of the sky, and will give all these lands to your offspring. In your offspring will all the nations of the earth be blessed, 5  because Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my requirements, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” 

Congratulations, we are two weeks into the new year. As we settle in for the long haul, stay current with your notebook, recording your own questions and conversations, especially those you are having with God. If available, join our discussion group every Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. at 1137 Arbutus Avenue, Rm. E1, Chico.

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