Laughing at God

Laughing at God is probably not the most respectful way to react when God comes with a message. Sarah thought it was quiet funny to hear that she was going to have a baby when she was already an old woman. With all the logic and reasoning she could muster, all she could do was see the humor in it and laugh. Others might have cried after waiting so long to have a child. There were probably many times in her life and during her marriage that she had felt like a failure. She had failed to provide a child, especially a son, to her faithful and fine husband Abraham.

Laughing is what we sophisticated people often do when we hear something unbelievable. It is certainly not a sign that we are taking the matter seriously. It is a lack of faith. God “straightened” Sarah out a bit when He said ““Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I surely bear a child, since I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.” (Genesis 18:13-14)

Sarah failed to realize that when logic and reasoning say God can’t, it is God that smiles and says “Oh yea, I’ll show you!” It was God who got the last laugh when Sarah at the age of ninety-one had a son.

When God makes a promise, He will fulfill it. There are no miracles too small or too great for God. We are blessed to know that God loves us and will hear our prayers. Jesus said “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) Instead of laughing or showing our incredulity let us rediscover and strengthen our faith, knowing that God is still able and will deliver us in His time.

 

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Sacrificing your son

There you were minding your own business enjoying the son that God had promised you many years ago. Now everything had fallen into place. What could possible go wrong? Then you heard the voice of your God, the voice that had always comforted you, the voice that had always directed you. How many blessings had you received by just listening to this voice? The day just couldn’t get any better, except God made the strangest request. This loving, faithful God who hated evil and sin had just asked you to commit the most heinous act of sacrificing your son.

What do you do? Abraham found himself in this position. (Genesis 22:1-2) What is remarkable is that Abraham’s faith never faltered. He followed God’s direction to the letter.

He went to where God directed him to go, laid down the wood and placed his son on the altar. He then raised his knife and at the very last moment was stopped by God. (Genesis 22:9-12)

God provided a ram for the sacrifice. (Genesis 22:13) This must have felt like the definition of relief. Isaac was spared and Abraham did not lose his son. Beyond any doubt he proved his love and obedience to God.

Jesus reminds us that we must love God above all things. (Matthew 22:37-38) Consider those things that have the most value to you. Now consider the people you love the most. Are they more important to you than God? Would we be willing to sacrifice our relationship with God to please them?

Abraham was willing to lose his son for God. What are we willing to surrender to please God and have a closer relationship with God? This is the God who has already proven His love to us. God is the father who actually did sacrifice His son Jesus so that we might be forgiven and be saved. It was the sacrifice of His son Jesus that paid the debt of our sin and allowed us to be called sons of God.

He has shown us His love. Perhaps it is our turn to show Him our love.

 

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Flee from sin

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is truly an odd one. We have the twin cities standing during Abraham’s time as terrible symbols of rebellious sins against God. The Lord said “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave,”. (Genesis 18:20) He was speaking to Abraham and informed him that He was about to bring destruction on them. Abraham would plead before the Lord, who informed Abraham that He would not destroy the cities if He found at least ten righteous men. History would show that ten were not found. (Genesis 18:32)

Later the Angels would appear to Lot and his family, who lived in Sodom to warn them so that they could flee. The men of the city were so depraved that they demanded to have the Angels to satisfy their sexual hunger. (Genesis 19:5-4) Fortunately the Angels blinded the men before they could cause any harm.

When the morning came Lot and his family fled the city. They had been warned not to look back. It is a message that still speaks to us.

God desires a better life for us and demands that we flee from evil and sin. He demands that we remove them from our lives and distance ourselves as much as possible from their temptations. However evil and sin seem to have a bizarre hold on us even when we see their evil faces. Such was the case of Lot’s wife.

Lot’s wife ignored the warning and longing looked back and instantly turned into a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19:26) Perhaps she truly did not want to leave this evil city and was already thinking of all the many wonderful things she was leaving behind. In our lives we must push on, looking forward to the promises of Christ, our eternal future with Him and the many blessings of our new life with Him. We must contemplate on that which is good and resist longing for those things we left in our sinful past.

 

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The Sin of Pride

They were perfectly made.  Perhaps the finest human specimens the world has ever seen, literally formed by God’s hands one at a time.  The Garden of Eden, a paradise without flaw was their home. All of earth was theirs. They walked with God and with none of the evils of our society whatsoever to be concerned about. Sickness, death, pollution, violence and crime were not known to them.  What more could Adam and Eve desire? They certainly didn’t deserve more. But thanks to the devil, their imagination was sparked and they must have thought “what if we could be like God?” (Genesis 3:1-7) One could argue that their first sin was pride. They believed that they were more than what they truly were and somehow had the capacity to be like God.

The devil also had the same problem. He too was made by God to be brilliant and beautiful. (Ezekiel 28:12-18) His original name was Lucifer. He was the Angel of Light. However this was not enough for Lucifer. He too thought he could be like God and sought to set his throne above God’s stars. (Isaiah 14:12-18) When we think so much of ourselves we start to believe that we deserve more and must have more. This leads to many more sins as we take or attempt to take what we should not. Lucifer attempted to take the heavens, Adam and Eve took the fruit and disobeyed.

Perhaps one good defense against sin and pride is to understand that we most likely already have much more than what we truly deserve. We must consider all that has been freely given to us. From the moment of conception our life is a gift from God, nurtured by our Mothers. We come into this word defenseless and in need of constant care happily provided by our parents or guardians. We were not only fed food for our bodily consumption, but knowledge, ideas and opinions fed our minds. Many of us learned from young of God’s great love and received one of the greatest gifts, the knowledge of His word. However all of these gifts pale in comparison to the gift of eternal life provided by our lord and savior Jesus Christ when he paid for our sins on Calvary. After all we have freely received, how much more can we say we deserve? Let us combat prideful notions with sincere gratitude for what we have been given and all we have been divinely promised.

Armed with gratitude we can safely pursue ambitions. Pride should not be confused with ambition. God gave us talents, abilities and intelligence and it is our responsibility to develop them. There is nothing wrong with trying to improve our position in life or our well being.  However we must make such attempts with the right attitude and for the best reasons. We should maintain our humility, understanding that while we aspire for more it is not because we deserve more, but that God has provided us with many more opportunities. God willing someday we will earn a greater position after much honest work and education. Hopefully our purpose for such ambitions is to benefit not only ourselves but our loved ones and all those around us.

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Esau’s bad trade

Esau was sweaty and out of breath, totally exhausted after a hard day’s work of hunting. He wanted two things, to eat and to rest. It is pretty much how most of us feel after a long hard day. We get home and want to just collapse on the living room sofa and perhaps if someone could just bring us our favorite meal, everything would be perfect. Jacob was more than ready to please. The wise younger brother had prepared a splendid meal that Esau could not resist and I am sure many of us would not resist either. However Jacob was not as nice as we would hope, nor was he so generous. Jacob was a man with a plan. (Genesis 25:29-34)

Jacob understood that blessings were worth more than rest or food. He understood how to make a good trade. Jesus also talked about trades. He said “what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36) Much of what we can obtain in this world comes with a price. It will cost us money, or our time. Jesus made it clear that as we embark on our adventures of conquest, whether they are to obtain wealth, success, recognition, a higher position, or even someone’s favor, we must be sure of what the price is, because we don’t want to lose our souls. We never want to do anything that compromises our principals, our morality and most importantly our relationship with God!

Certainly this means saying no when asked to do something that we know is immoral, but it also means saying no when our time and energy is consumed, leaving little time for God. Our salvation is a great treasure that cannot so easily be surrendered. Our walk with God must be cultivated and developed to its fullest maturity and this takes time.

Esau ignored his great treasure and surrendered it easily. Jacob held that delicious plate of food, whose aroma must have truly been overwhelming, and simply asked for Esau’s birthright. Surely this meant great blessings, an inheritance and rights that should rightly belong to the eldest Esau. Esau agreed and filled his stomach and rested. Jacob would become the father of all Israelites, the chosen people, and from his lineage would descend the Messiah.

Let us not sell our great blessing for so little, all that this world has to offer pales in comparison to all eternity. Let us guard our salvation as it is our greatest treasure.

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Made very good

When God was done with creation he said everything was good. Wait a minute. Perhaps that’s a mistake. Let’s check scripture.

 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Genesis 1:31

Perhaps God made some stuff after the sixth day. No that can’t be, He rested on the seventh day. (Genesis 2:2) Adam and Eve were very good! Our design is good. It is absolutely splendid. Surely we were designed to please God. It is why we can run, leap, build, draw, invent, sing, write, think and do so many more wondrous things. We were made in His image to be something wonderful. What happened? We have the ability to take what was meant for good and turn it into something terrible. We often call this sin. God is not responsible for this, we are.

Yet in His great mercy he saw fit to pay the price for sin. Jesus did this on Calvary long ago when He was crucified, dying a horrific death. Now we can be saved by believing in Him and accepting him as our lord and Savior.(John 3:16) Once we are saved, do we automatically perform with perfection, producing only good works, everything beautiful and wonderful, like straight A students? It turns out we are still capable of turning really good things into really bad things.

Good becomes bad when we take our strength, and hurt instead of help. It is when we use our mouths to insult and destroy instead of building up and teaching. It is when we use sex as a business, to control, or to feed our lust instead of showing our spouse love. It is when we use our minds for plans of deception and the invention of weapons instead of solutions. Then we no longer please God, the God who in all His love carefully prepared a world that was good and then formed us in His image, to be companions and even more to be His children.

Let us spend our days being what God intended. Let us use our incredible minds, our mouths, our strengths and so many gifts to make the world better and the lives of those around us happier. May God give us the power to be the good He saw when He first formed us.

Another verse

1 Timothy 4:4-5

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

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Faith during hardship

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good,…. Genesis 50:20

When you are the favored son and daddy buys you really cool stuff, life can be like living in a dream; especially if daddy makes you a top manager at the family business, and places you in charge of your older brothers. This was the life of Joseph. He even had dreams about how his brothers were going to bow to him. Life was pretty nice. However his older brothers didn’t think it was that great. They sold Joseph into slavery and told their father he had been eaten by wild animals. Now this was a family with problems!

Life can certainly be unfair. Perhaps Joseph’s bothers had reason to be jealous, but he did not deserve slavery. Joseph did not ask to be loved more than his brothers. He didn’t ask for special treatment. When it comes to being in charge, Joseph really was more competent than his brothers and most likely deserved the elevated position. Perhaps what they all needed was some counseling and a family meeting where everyone could air out their concerns. Joseph was actually a good, faithful, intelligent son who deserved the admiration of his older brothers. Instead he found himself on a caravan of slave traders headed to Egypt.

Joseph is sold to a top general and quickly proves he is capable. He is placed in charge of the entire estate. Unfortunately the general’s wife takes a liking to Joseph and when Joseph rejects her, she makes false accusations and Joseph is placed in jail. By now each and everyone one of us would be absolutely furious. We would be screaming “Where is God in all this?” We would be thinking “I am faithful, hardworking and honest. I am talented, intelligent and I do a great job, how can life be so unfair?” But Joseph never complained. He was one of the greatest examples of faith in history. He must have known “that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28).

In jail Joseph once again proves himself and is placed in charge of the other prisoners. He also proves himself a great interpreter of dreams. This ability made possible by the revelation of God.

Once pharaoh heard of Joseph’s ability, he was removed from prison and made to serve pharaoh. Joseph was then elevated and made the second most powerful man in all of Egypt. From that position he was able to save the nation of Egypt and his family during a horrific time of famine and yes his brothers did bow down to him. (Genesis 37, 39-45)

For many years life was certainly unfair for Joseph. At times we may feel like we are walking in Joseph’s shoes. But like Joseph we cannot lose faith. Nor can we grow angry with God or life. We must approach every hardship we go through as if it is a new opportunity to grow and become even better, because that is exactly the reason why we go through them. Remember God is not done; He is doing something great in each of us.