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Showing posts from January, 2017

HIS Love Conquers All

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It is both amazing and appalling what is done “in God’s Name.”

Jacob continues to practice deception. Not only has he manipulated things so that he comes away from his father-in-law with enough wealth to make Laban’s heirs jealous, but he lies to Leah and Rachel by saying that God blessed him with all this wealth because Laban had cheated him of the wages he deserved over the course of the twenty years that Jacob remained in exile from his own family. One sin does not require another to correct it. But Jacob had yet to learn that lesson.

Genesis 31 continues the sad story of "deceive and be deceived."

Whatever goodwill Laban had extended to Jacob is well tarnished now. Genesis 31:2 says, “And Jacob noticed that Laban’s attitude toward him was not what it had been.” I guess Laban noticed that Jacob was getting richer while he was getting poorer. So Jacob deceives his father-in-law again and runs off into the night with his family and his belongings.

Rachel even steals her father…

Imitating the Father of Lies

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Auto workers in a GM plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, are crying “foul” today. They knew that part of their production was being siphoned off to plants in Mexico but had been assured that there was enough in what would remain to keep them all at work. This morning they were surprised to discover that up to 600 jobs are about to be lost.

In my search for the origins of the saying “honesty is the best policy” I came up with a post that begins with this: “Many organizations make bold claims about how they value honesty above all else. But deceit has its merits too. Telling the naked truth to your employees can result in panic, stress, or spite. According to new research by Wharton professor Maurice Schweitzer and Wharton doctoral student Emma E. Levine, lying in the right circumstances can be ethical, helps to breed trust in difficult times, and can help boost morale.” (http://www.inc.com/will-yakowicz/honesty-is-not-the-best-policy.html)

Are you out of your mind?

But this tendency to view de…

Worthy of an Altar

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How many altars have I built in my life?

An altar is a place of worship, of commitment, of sacrifice.

Noah built an altar when, at last, he and the riders of the great ark were on dry land once again. It is recorded that Abraham built altars at significant points in his spiritual journey. In Genesis 26 Isaac builds an altar as well. This event was spurred by an encounter with God during which the Lord said:

I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham” (26:24). It is said that Isaac built the altar “…and called on the name of the Lord” (26:25).

An altar is a place of communion, a place of encounter with God. We used to have “altar calls” away back when. Those were moments at the end of a service when the pastor invited anyone who wanted to accept Christ, or make some other significant spiritual decision, to come forward. I responded to one of those when I wa…

What Marriage Models

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How much water does a camel drink? (This is important when you are looking for a mate!)

Here’s one answer: “A camel can go without water for days or even months. The amount of water a camel drinks varies with the time of year and with the weather. Camels need less water in winter when the weather is cool and the plants they eat contain more moisture than in summer. Camels that graze in the Sahara can go all winter without water and may refuse to drink if water is offered to them. But a large, thirsty camel can drink as much as 200 litres a day. This water is not stored in the camel's body but replaces water previously used up.” (http://camelfarm.com/camels/camels_life.html)

In Genesis 24 we read the story of the servant who was commissioned to find a bride for Abraham’s son, Isaac. His instructions were to go back to Abraham’s relatives and find a girl from among the family. A pagan bride was not acceptable and Isaac was not to go back to a pagan country and search for himself (Gen…

Debts and Death Dues

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January is a scary month—if only because the December bills begin to pile up in the mail box. Debt haunts us and then hunts us down. Here's a lesson from Abraham.

How odd that the first piece of the promised land that Abraham ever owned was a burial plot for Sarah. The Almighty had promised to give him all of Canaan as an inheritance, but when Sarah died, he was still a pilgrim, a nomad, a tent-dweller without a stake in the ground to mark his turf.

Genesis 23 describes the negotiations between Abraham and the owner of the cave in which the patriarch wanted to bury his wife. This is, apparently, the first mention of metal (silver) being exchanged for goods and services, and a reference to the custom of using a go-between or a mediator to negotiate a transaction. Abraham goes to the Hittites and asks, “…intercede with Ephron son of Zohar on my behalf so he will sell me the cave at Machpelah, which belongs to him and is at the end of his field. Ask him to sell it to me for the full …

Only Clay

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It’s no use trying to fool ourselves: all our idols have clay feet.

If ever anyone lived (apart from Jesus Christ) who should be admired and emulated, that someone would be Abraham. His journey with God is one that borders on the exemplary—I say, “borders,” deliberately. Abraham, like any human idol, had his “clay foot” moments. Genesis 20 describes one of those moments.

Biblical history overwhelmingly supports Abraham as an example of faith worthy to be followed. But God never minimizes the frailties of even those of His “nearest and dearest.” It’s one of His ways of reminding us that in our weakest moments, His grace is still, and will always be, sufficient.

Genesis 20 is a story similar to one recorded for us in Genesis 12:10-12—same problem, different location.

Abraham fears for his life while under the eye of Abimelech king of Gerar.

Sarah is old by today’s standards, but still beautiful enough to attract the attention of the king. Abraham, fearful that his life is at risk if Ablime…

Lighting the Fires of Our Own Destruction

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Those closest to me know that I am a "fan" of the murder, mayhem, and mass destruction genre of books and films. Perhaps that's what makes me more likely to look at stories like that which we find in Genesis 19 with the here-and-now in mind.

Lot offered his two virgin daughters to placate a gang of Sodomites pounding on his door. That was not enough for them—the name “Sodomy” comes from the medieval Latin “sodomia: and is implied in the story from Genesis 19. The men of Sodom wanted to “know” Lot’s visitors, and it wasn’t a cup of coffee and a doughnut they were after. 

Homosexual rape was what the Sodomites had in mind for Lot’s angelic messengers.

Small wonder that Lot’s daughters, already understanding how little value they had because of their father’s actions, and having grown up in such an immoral society, did not think twice about committing incest with their father.

Do you wonder why God would allow such a chapter to be preserved for us to read?

Perhaps because So…

Just the facts, Ma'am!

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The most recent flurry of debate in the US surrounds the commutation of the sentence of Bradley (a.k.a. Chelsea) Manning, a soldier sentenced to 35 years for passing on military secrets, but who has only served 7 of those years. The argument behind the commutation, I assume, was not that the crime was not serious, but that the sentence was excessive. But to some, 35 years was not enough and Manning’s execution as a traitor would have been even more appropriate.

The debate will rage on.

But we often wonder if our justice system is indeed just. We can cite all kinds of examples. We wonder if the frail hands into which the meting out of justice is entrusted, are adequate for the task.

Justice became the theme for Abraham in the latter part of Genesis 18.

Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).

These were the words of a nervous Abraham when he discovered the Almighty’s intention of bringing judgment down on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. His nephew, Lot, lived in …

Age: Neither a Qualifier Nor a Disqualifier

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I’ve often said that my style of decorating is “early garage sale”—not old enough for antique, but usually second-hand.

On my library shelves, there are some old books, now disintegrating into dust, one commentary on the Life of Christ more than two hundred years old. Among my prizes are an early edition of In His Steps, What Would Jesus Do (1897) by Charles Sheldon, a very old volume of the  collected works of John Bunyan, (the date of publishing long since gone as are the book’s covers) and an English version of the Polyglot Bible, signed by its steward in 1886.

Some old things are valued. But frankly, sometimes they are not.

There were times in Abraham’s life when he seemed to believe that life was passing him by—he was too old!

Specifically too old to have a child—to produce something of value to the next generation and the generations after that one.

Genesis 17 describes Abraham’s conversation with God on the subject of being old.

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appear…

An Ode To The Foolishness of Faith

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I was named a “fool” this morning for saying that Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” is indeed the definition of faith. If this had come from someone who didn’t claim to be a believer I would not have been surprised. But it didn’t. It’s okay. In this case, I'm a happy fool!

This morning I was playing catch-up in my reading (yes, I do sometimes get behind—with or without a valid excuse). Sure enough, Abraham is the heart of the passages that I needed to read. He plays a large part in the Hebrews 11 description of people of faith, those who believed where there was no evidence to support the promises made to them.

In Genesis 12, Abram left Haran and completed the journey his father had begun—the journey to Canaan. He would never see the fulfillment of the promises God made to him. When he arrived in Canaan, God confirmed that promise: “Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All the land …

The Ultimate Whisperer

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It’s amazing what doesn’t get noticed—until it does.

Noah, his family, and the animals, were released from the ark. Before them lay a new life and new beginnings.

To commemorate the event God made a promise to Noah: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth” (Genesis 9:9-11).

The sign of this promise was the rainbow.

I never noticed before that God makes very clear that this promise is also one made to the animals—as though He were talking to them as much as He is talking to Noah and his family.

We have horse whisperers, dog whisperers, and who knows what other whisperers are out there. But it appears that this gift is a divine one, j…

Break My Heart...

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Break my heart for what breaks yours” is a line from a Hillsong United song, called Hosanna.

It came to mind this morning as I read Genesis 6. God looks down and sees the state of the world and this is recorded: “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain” (vss. 5, 6).

We are not accustomed to think of God as being in pain. Somehow He is viewed as being above all that, particularly when we consider that Revelation tells us that there is no pain in heaven (Revelation 21:4). Yet that is where He resides. Perhaps the clue there is that John is describing how it will be after the second coming and the final judgment on evil and evil men.

In the meanwhile, even God feels pain. Even the Almighty lives with a broken heart.

The song asks for a heart broken by what breaks God’s heart, and here in Genesis 6 we discove…

Doing An Enoch

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As sin increased after the fall of Adam and Eve, longevity decreased—with a few notable exceptions.

Enoch’s father, Jared, lived 962 years, longer than many of his time, but Enoch was a different case altogether, in more respects than simply his lifespan.

When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away” (Genesis 5:21-24).

Curiosity hitting me once more, I wondered about the phrase: “…after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God….” Did the responsibility of parenthood trigger a need to get on a right basis with God? Some think so. Benson comments: “Enoch walked with God — A Scriptural phrase for eminent piety. He set God always before him, and acted as one that considered he was always under his eye. He lived a life of communion and in…

Heart of Worship

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When did the organized, communal worship of God begin?

I don’t think I have ever asked that question before. But this morning my curiosity “bone” was tickled when I read this interesting phrase at the end of Genesis 4: “At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord” (vs. 26).

The context tells us that this happened around the time Adam and Eve’s third son, Seth, had a son of his own called Enosh. Experts calculate that this was some two hundred and forty years after the creation of Adam.

It’s an odd phrase that seems to imply that before this people didn’t communicate with God. But we know that some did. The general consensus seems to agree with Matthew Poole’s comments: “to call upon the name of the Lord; to pray unto God, to worship God in a more public and solemn manner; praying being here put for the whole worship of God, as Genesis 12:8, Genesis 26:25, and in many other places. According to the marginal version, the sense is this: Then when the world was universally c…

Come Out of Hiding

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What was your first reaction when, as a child, you did something wrong that you didn’t want your parents to find out about?

Hide yourself or hide the evidence.

Adam and Eve tried that. “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:7, 8).

I always got caught. So did Adam and Eve.

On one of the rare occasions that I babysat the pastor’s kids, they behaved badly. When I threatened to tell their father, they pleaded with me for mercy. I granted their request and didn’t tell on them. Several days later I discovered that, burdened with guilt, they confessed what they had done to their father anyway!

Adam and Eve got it wrong, and the kids got it right. It’s never good to try to hide our wrongdoing from the One …

All These Things...

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For some of us there is snow on the ground and a distinct chill in the air. But it is summer somewhere!

Still, though there are no tomatoes in my garden (not that there ever were!) I can still buy them in the grocery store. Provision has been made somewhere, somehow, for my BLT even in January.

That’s a God thing.

Genesis 1 describes how our Creator God brought into being all that we, the last pieces of His creative genius, need.

Then He rested: “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done” (Genesis 2:2-3). He didn’t need the rest—but He knew that we would so He set the example. He even made that day a holy one, a time for spiritual renewal. Even in that our great God made provision for us.

When God created the first of our ancestors, He placed them in a garden (2:8). And in that place was everything…

A Light of The Light

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The sun rose in a brilliant blue sky this first morning of a new year.

Light.

How appropriate to this:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that it was good…” (Genesis 1:1-3).

We just finished celebrating the first coming of THE light—Jesus Christ—the One of whom the prophet spoke when he said: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2).

Our Lord, speaking of Himself, said this: “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’” (John 8:12).

THE Light passes on His glow to those who follow Him.

The world was a place dark with sin when the Saviour arrived to light its blackest…