< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: October 2014

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pure Religion

This is from the book “Reckless Devotion” which I’ve mentioned a couple times before. I LOVE this book. And I wanted to remember what authors and missionaries Heidi and Rolland Baker wrote about Pure Religion:

What is pure religion? What is pure Christianity? What is pure love? What is this life all about? Is it about how many people we lead to Jesus or how many churches we plant or how good we are as people? Or is it about being so hidden in the heart of our awesome, eternal God of love that we are swallowed up in Him until it is no longer we who live, but Christ living in us?

“And the King will answer and say to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me’” (Matthew 25:40)

The reason I am in Africa, the reason I have come to serve here, the reason I am alive, is for this purpose and this purpose alone: to learn to love as Jesus loved.

Every day Jesus meets me in unexpected ways. Sometimes He is an orphan looking for love and unconditional acceptance. Sometimes He is a widow desperately begging for a simple job in order to provide the basic necessities of life for her hungry children. Sometimes He is another lost and broken person who just needs a hug and someone to listen. But every day I see Him in a new way.

What matters most is love. Jesus living inside us is happy to use our hands to heal the sick, our arms to hug the lost, our feet and our mouths to go and speak about the Kingdom to all who need to hear it.

This is “faith working through love.” (Galatians 5:6)

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mediterranean Cruise Opportunity

The block of cabins I’m holding for our 7 night Western Mediterranean Cruise, September 6, 2015, is on Royal Caribbean’s the Allure of the Seas! And she’s been called a destination herself!

USA Today had an article in their Sept. 29th edition listing the top 10 cruise lines for night life. They mentioned RCCL first:

Royal Caribbean: The line's ships all provide a non-stop nighttime scene, but the action is on steroids on the world's largest ships, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. Watch a real Broadway show or head to the comedy club for laughs or the karaoke bar to show your skills. Try your luck at the Vegas-style Casino Royale or dance the night away with salsa at Boleros or in a multi-level disco, where celebrity scratch DJs host dance parties. The ships collectively also have ice skating shows, high-diving shows and nighttime parades featuring DreamWorks characters.

Cruise Critic also just listed the Allure 3rd in their 10 best ships to spend a day at sea on:

3. Allure of the Seas
On Deck: The world's largest cruise ship, Allure of the Seas, challenges anyone to be bored onboard, given its large variety of on-ship activities and attractions. The top deck has three pools (including a sloped-entry pool and one for games like pool volleyball) and the H20 Zone, a colorful aquapark with a giant water-spraying octopus, a kiddie pool and a pair of family-friendly hot tubs. A thalassotherapy pool can be found in the glass-covered Solarium.

The ultimate in water fun are the ship's two FlowRider surf pools for standup surfing and boogie-boarding. Allure also sports an 82ft zip-line, two rock-climbing walls and sports courts for basketball, Ping-Pong and mini-golf.

The deep Aquatheater pool does double duty as a venue for scuba lessons and a stage for whimsical performances that feature acrobats and divers.

Indoor Fun: Allure's neighborhood concept includes two areas that are technically within the ship but open to the sky. Take a nature stroll through Central Park, which is covered in some 12,000 plants and 60 trees. You can pop into shops like the Coach store and a Romero Britto boutique, and grab a bite at the Park Cafe or a drink at the Trellis Bar. Or head to the more boisterous indoor-outdoor Boardwalk, with its build-a-pet shop, a kids clothing store, candy shop, ice cream parlor, floating bar, various eateries and Zoltar, an animatronic fortune teller. One lovely touch there is the handmade carousel, which is free to ride. If you're traveling with kids, keep an eye out for clowns and balloon animal artists strolling by. 

For true indoor shopping, the Royal Promenade is sized like a real mall -- it runs the length of a football field. There you'll find tax- and duty-free shops for liquor and jewelry purchases, a Starbucks, the Rising Tide bar (which travels up and down three decks between the Royal Promenade and Central Park), a Guess store and other retail options. Activities like flash-mob dance classes and parades with Dreamworks characters and colorful costumes take place there.

Royal Caribbean's top-of-the-line shows aren't just reserved for the evening. Catch matinees of its ice-skating shows as well as midday showings of Broadway spectaculars such as "Chicago." Other daytime entertainment options include recent 3D movies from the DreamWorks cache (in the specially equipped Amber Theater), dance classes, alcohol tastings, character meet-and-greets and ice skating in Studio B.

All-Day Dining: You can't go hungry on Allure of the Seas. Beyond lunch in the Windjammer Marketplace buffet and Adagio main dining room, passengers can find lunch at Sorrento's Pizzeria; the Park Cafe, serving up salads and sandwiches; the Boardwalk Dog House with its seven varieties of wieners; the Wipeout Cafe for burgers and chicken with a view of the onboard sports action; the Vitality Spa Cafe or Solarium Bistro for yogurt parfaits, healthy sandwiches and other light fare; Vintage for tapas; Giovanni's Table for casual Italian; Johnny Rockets, a fast-food burger joint; Rita's Cantina, a Mexi-Cali beach bar with a la carte food; and the Cafe Promenade for snacks and sandwiches. And of course there’s complimentary room service!

If it worries you a little to be on a ship this big, know that out of the hundreds and hundreds of reviews I’ve read people have said over and over “it never feels crowded” and “you’d never know it’s so big because it’s so spread out and there’s so much to do!”

If you’d like me to resend the flyer showing prices and itinerary let me know. My next email in a couple weeks will be on our departure city Barcelona. But don’t wait to lock in your cabin – I’ve only blocked 16 staterooms at a really great group rate!!

This is going to be fun!!

Nancy Geiger

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Keys to Successful Living by Derek Prince

Every journalist knows that lists sell. “Top 10 hotels in New York City”, “5 Miracle Foods to Include in Your Diet”, etc.

So naturally I gravitated toward the book “Keys to Successful Living – 12 Ways to Discover God’s Best for Your Life.”

But I was disappointed. The author got the list from the book of Hebrews using “let us” phrases written there. (Sounds like a great idea so far.) But the whole thing was really dry. It could have been a long article instead of a whole book.

Disclaimer: I was given this book by the publisher for my truthful review.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Going Through Seasons

I’m reading the book Reckless Devotion by Heidi and Rolland Baker. A page a day.

Yes, it’s that good.

I wanted to remember this paragraph: “In life we go through bumpy patches. It’s inevitable. But it does not need to be unfruitful. Suffering connects us to the heart of God like nothing else. Instead of becoming bitter about our circumstances, we can ask the Father to birth a deeper compassion in us. Suffering is a season. Seasons come and go. When you move into the next season of your life, take compassion, not bitterness, with you.”

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Isaac's Blessings

Genesis 27 When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he called for Esau his older son and said to him, “My son.”
“Here I am,” he answered.

2 Isaac said, “I am now an old man and don’t know the day of my death. 3 Now then, get your equipment—your quiver and bow—and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me. 4 Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing before I die.”

5 Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau left for the open country to hunt game and bring it back, 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, 7 ‘Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the Lord before I die.’ 8 Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: 9 Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. 10 Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.”

11 Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “But my brother Esau is a hairy man while I have smooth skin. 12 What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing.”

13 His mother said to him, “My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me.”

14 So he went and got them and brought them to his mother, and she prepared some tasty food, just the way his father liked it. 15 Then Rebekah took the best clothes of Esau her older son, which she had in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob. 16 She also covered his hands and the smooth part of his neck with the goatskins. 17 Then she handed to her son Jacob the tasty food and the bread she had made.

18 He went to his father and said, “My father.”

“Yes, my son,” he answered. “Who is it?”

19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me. Please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.”

20 Isaac asked his son, “How did you find it so quickly, my son?”

“The Lord your God gave me success,” he replied.

21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come near so I can touch you, my son, to know whether you really are my son Esau or not.”

22 Jacob went close to his father Isaac, who touched him and said, “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” 23 He did not recognize him, for his hands were hairy like those of his brother Esau; so he proceeded to bless him. 24 “Are you really my son Esau?” he asked.

“I am,” he replied.

25 Then he said, “My son, bring me some of your game to eat, so that I may give you my blessing.”

Jacob brought it to him and he ate; and he brought some wine and he drank. 26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come here, my son, and kiss me.”

27 So he went to him and kissed him. When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him and said,
“Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed.
28 May God give you heaven’s dew and earth’s richness—an abundance of grain and new wine. 29 May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed
and those who bless you be blessed.”
30 After Isaac finished blessing him, and Jacob had scarcely left his father’s presence, his brother Esau came in from hunting. 31 He too prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father. Then he said to him, “My father, please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.”
32 His father Isaac asked him, “Who are you?”

“I am your son,” he answered, “your firstborn, Esau.”

33 Isaac trembled violently and said, “Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him—and indeed he will be blessed!”

34 When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me—me too, my father!”

35 But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.”

36 Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob? This is the second time he has taken advantage of me: He took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing!” Then he asked, “Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me?”

37 Isaac answered Esau, “I have made him lord over you and have made all his relatives his servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine. So what can I possibly do for you, my son?”

38 Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!” Then Esau wept aloud.

39 His father Isaac answered him, “Your dwelling will be away from the earth’s richness,
away from the dew of heaven above. 40 You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother. But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck.”

41 Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”
42 When Rebekah was told what her older son Esau had said, she sent for her younger son Jacob and said to him, “Your brother Esau is planning to avenge himself by killing you. 43 Now then, my son, do what I say: Flee at once to my brother Laban in Harran. 44 Stay with him for a while until your brother’s fury subsides. 45 When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him, I’ll send word for you to come back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?”

46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I’m disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living.”

Jacob becomes the man that God’s promise of a seed would come through. He was a man of boundless energy, a schemer at least in the beginning, but also a man of power who chose with every ounce of his being to grasp and to live by the promises of God. In Exodus God calls Himself the God of Jacob. He says several times in the Bible “I have loved Jacob.” God also ordained that His chosen nation should be known by Jacob’s second name Israel.

He had some weaknesses, but his solid worth far out weighed them.

I was doing a little research on Esau’s descendants and came across this which was interesting:

One of the most valuable lessons to be learned from the family history of the descendants of the brothers Jacob and Esau concerns the New Testament application. The New Testament views the conflict between the flesh and the spirit as typified by the conflict between Jacob and Esau:

Galatians 5:13-26 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.

For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would.

But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another.

Jacob in many ways typifies the average believer. He was deceitful, manipulative, clever and bent on advancing his own causes for many years. After wrestling all night with The Angel of the Lord at the Brook Jabbok near Peniel, his name was finally changed to Israel. Though he may have been somewhat slow to fully believe and trust God, Jacob's heart was inclined from his birth towards the things of the Lord.

Esau's heart and motives, on the other hand, were perpetually set on the goals and rewards of the world. He cared not at all about the things that were important to God.

Hebrews 12:15-17 "See to it that no one fail to obtain the grace of God; that no 'root of bitterness' spring up and cause trouble, and by it the many become defiled; that no one be immoral or irreligious like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears."

The entire book of Obadiah tells us why God hated Esau but loved Jacob, and why it is that perpetual enmity exists within the Christian, between the spirit and the flesh:

The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, whose dwelling is high, who say in your heart, "Who will bring me down to the ground?" Though you soar aloft like the eagle, though your nest is set among the stars, thence I will bring you down, says the LORD.

When the people of Israel left Egypt under the leadership of Moses the first opposition they encountered was from a people known as the Amalekites. Genesis 36 tells us that Amalek was the grandson of Esau!

Then came Amalek and fought with Israel at Rephidim. Exodus 17:8-16 And Moses said to Joshua, "Choose for us men, and go out, fight with Amalek; tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand." So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands grew weary; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat upon it, and Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; so his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

And the LORD said to Moses, "Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven." And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The LORD is my banner, saying, "A hand upon the banner of the LORD! The LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation."

Later King Saul was told by the prophet Samuel to completely eradicate the Amalekites, (1 Samuel 15). Saul's incomplete obedience not only cost him his throne and his life, but reveals clearly how easy it is for us as believers to compromise with our own flesh---which God has said is utterly worthless.

In the book of Esther, the arche-fiend and enemy of the Jews is the infamous Haman, an Agagite. Sure enough, Agag's name is to be found listed as the king of the people of Amalek!

Herod Antipas, before whom Jesus remained silent in Luke 23:9 was an Idumean, that is one of the last of the Edomites. God has nothing further to say to the flesh, nor to the descendants of Edom. Their fate was sealed long ago.

King David's successful military dealings with Edom are recorded in 2 Samuel 8. Solomon's compromises with his "many foreign wives" caused the Lord to raise up against him an adversary, Hadad, from the royal line of Edom, (2 Kings 11).

There is a long history of antagonism between the descendants of Jacob and of Esau throughout Old Testament history.

And all of this history serves to illustrate for us that no good ever comes from our best efforts, our self effort in the Christian life, which is the root source of what the Bible calls "the flesh." Only the works of God, the works of the Holy Spirit done through us when we are obedient and submissive to God---have any lasting worth. All else will, in the end, be destroyed.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Genesis 26

Genesis 26:1-23 Now there was a famine in the land—besides the previous famine in Abraham’s time—and Isaac went to Abimelek king of the Philistines in Gerar. 2 The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. 3 Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, 5 because Abraham obeyed me and did everything I required of him, keeping my commands, my decrees and my instructions.” 6 So Isaac stayed in Gerar.

7 When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” because he was afraid to say, “She is my wife.” He thought, “The men of this place might kill me on account of Rebekah, because she is beautiful.”

8 When Isaac had been there a long time, Abimelek king of the Philistines looked down from a window and saw Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah. 9 So Abimelek summoned Isaac and said, “She is really your wife! Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?”

Isaac answered him, “Because I thought I might lose my life on account of her.”

10 Then Abimelek said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the men might well have slept with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.”

11 So Abimelek gave orders to all the people: “Anyone who harms this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”

12 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him. 13 The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. 14 He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him. 15 So all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth.

16 Then Abimelek said to Isaac, “Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us.”

17 So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar, where he settled. 18 Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them.

19 Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. 20 But the herders of Gerar quarreled with those of Isaac and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek, because they disputed with him. 21 Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. 22 He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, saying, “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.”

23 From there he went up to Beersheba.

So famine strikes again and Isaac, like Abraham, starts toward Egypt. However when he arrived at the city of Gerar, southern gateway of the coastal caravan route to Egypt, the Lord appeared to Isaac and commanded him to trust Him enough to stay where he was. Canaan, not Egypt, was God’s appointment for Isaac.

While Abimelech had the same name as the ruler Abraham had lied to 80 years before this was probably a dynastic title used to designate all Philistine kings, just as Pharaoh is used for the kings of Egypt. He did seem to be a moral man. Or at least, God-fearing.

Where the neighbors were jealous and stopped up the wells – digging wells was a virtual claim to possession of the land. So they were trying to make it impossible for Isaac to stay there. Finally there was so much strife that Abimelech ordered Isaac to leave. And Isaac quietly does. To the valley of Gerar about 10 miles from the city of Gerar. He still has some trouble with the shepherds there claiming the stopped up wells Abraham had dug and Isaac was now undigging, but persevered and eventually they stopped bothering him and he settled in.

Genesis 26:24-35 24 That night the Lord appeared to him and 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.”

25 Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the Lord. There he pitched his tent, and there his servants dug a well.

26 Meanwhile, Abimelek had come to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his personal adviser and Phicol the commander of his forces. 27 Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?”

28 They answered, “We saw clearly that the Lord was with you; so we said, ‘There ought to be a sworn agreement between us’—between us and you. Let us make a treaty with you 29 that you will do us no harm, just as we did not harm you but always treated you well and sent you away peacefully. And now you are blessed by the Lord.”

30 Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank. 31 Early the next morning the men swore an oath to each other. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they went away peacefully.

32 That day Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well they had dug. They said, “We’ve found water!” 33 He called it Shibah, and to this day the name of the town has been Beersheba.

34 When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35 They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.

This little part about Esau at the end here shows his disregard for God’s will. First he takes more then one wife, and they are both pagans. And later in Genesis 28:9 we’ll see he marries a third wife who is the daughter of Ishmael!

But at the beginning of this section God appeared again to Isaac here and Isaac entered into a renewed relationship with God, building an altar of sacrifice and praying.

And God rewarded him by bringing former enemies to seek him out to make a covenant with him. Isaac’s gentleness, his steady faith, together with his obvious blessings from God, so impressed his former enemies that they wanted to be in his good will. He trusted God and again was rewarded. That day his servants found yet another well. Christ promised in John 4:14 that those who personally trust Him shall have a well of living water springing up within them which no opposition can quench.

And in John 7:38-39 He promises that through faith in Himself the waters from within the trusting soul shall flow to refresh those who formerly opposed us.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Esau Sells His Birthright

Genesis 25:24-34 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 25 The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. 26 After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them.

27 The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. 28 Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.)  (Edom means red)

31 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”

32 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”

33 But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.

34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left.

So Esau despised his birthright.

Since Jacob was his mother’s favorite, she may have told him about what God told her about “the elder will serve the younger”. Maybe that’s what gave Jacob the idea of getting Esau to give him the birthright.

Back in this era, the birthright was an important element in the structure of society. According to Scripture this birthright includes: a double portion of the father’s inheritance, authority in place of the father in the family, the title of the land of promise and carrying on the line of promise.

Paul tells us in Romans 9:4-5 the privileges granted to Israel that Esau threw over for a good meal: “Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ…”

By wanting this Jacob showed he believed God. BUT, he also showed a lack of belief that God would not fulfill His prophecy without Jacob’s help. That was wrong and we’ll see throughout Jacob’s life God disciplining him. He becomes less scheming and more trusting of God as he ages.

Esau was all about the here and now. Materialism. Future land they may or may not have didn’t do anything for him.

We can relate this to today because many of us are born into Christian families. That’s our spiritual birthright. But we come to an age where we have to claim it. We know the facts, the promises. But some say, “what good does all that do me in my busy life?” they’re too busy to spend time in God’s Word.

There are people in third world countries who would kill for a Bible! And then sometimes ARE KILLED for having one! While we, who have the birthright, have half a dozen lying around our house, never opened.

Some of us are like Esau – not valuing what we’ve been given. While others are like Jacob; they have an intense appreciation of God’s inheritance when they realize it is for them. Truly, as Christ said, “the first shall be last and the last first.”

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Abraham, Isaac and Rebekah

Genesis 25:1-18 Abraham had taken another wife, whose name was Keturah. 2 She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah. 3 Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan; the descendants of Dedan were the Ashurites, the Letushites and the Leummites. 4 The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanok, Abida and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah.
5 Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. 6 But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east.

7 Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years. 8 Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people. 9 His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, 10 the field Abraham had bought from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah. 11 After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi.

12 This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Ishmael, whom Sarah’s slave, Hagar the Egyptian, bore to Abraham.
These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, listed in the order of their birth: Nebaioth the firstborn of Ishmael, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, 14 Mishma, Dumah, Massa, 15 Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. 16 These were the sons of Ishmael, and these are the names of the twelve tribal rulers according to their settlements and camps. 17 Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people. 18 His descendants settled in the area from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt, as you go toward Ashur. And they lived in hostility toward all the tribes related to them.
Isaac doesn’t seem to have the personality of either his father Abraham or son Jacob. He’s a little overshadowed in the Bible. He seems to be more of a follower then a leader. But he’s important and his life has lessons for us. He had a personal faith in God. He only had one wife. He prayed and was obedient to God. One commentator suggested that after Isaac surrendered himself to God (when Abraham was going to sacrifice him) – and God saved him - Isaac developed a quiet, trusting nature with a deep rest in his heart. Jesus later said when we take His yoke upon us with a meek and lowly heart, we will find rest.

He did move around some like Abraham. They had a nomadic way of life with a tent, servants and herds, so they traveled for better pastures. Sometimes staying years at a time. But Isaac stayed mostly in the southern region of Canaan.

When Abraham died he gave gifts and a right share of material possessions to his son Ishmael. But all the land he possessed and the wells his servants had dug, the bulk of his flocks and herds and also his servants were left to Isaac. It’s important to note here that the only purchased land was still where Abraham had bought Sarah’s grave. Most of Isaac’s inheritance of land was vested in the promises of God concerning the future. Remember this as we read about Isaac’s sons; Esau and Jacob.

Genesis 25:19-23 9 This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Isaac.
Abraham became the father of Isaac, 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram and sister of Laban the Aramean.
21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.

23 The Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”

So, like Sarah, Rebekah took awhile to have children. Isaac didn’t try to take matters into his own hands like his father did, but he DID pray to God about it and God rewarded him double! Twins!

This is good to note because Isaac would have heard from his father about the promised seed and how it would now come from him. But he STILL prayed for it. God wants us to pray; about His promises…about everything!

The other thing to note here is Rebekah was told by God that her twins would become two nations: Edom and Israel and they would be separated because they would be so different from each other.

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Thursday, October 09, 2014

Rebekah and Isaac Choose to Obey God

Genesis 24:62-67 62 Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev. 63 He went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. 64 Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel 65 and asked the servant, “Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?”

“He is my master,” the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself.

66 Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. 67 Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

Isaac also chose to wait on God. Where it says he was meditating, he may have been praying about his future bride, or about losing his mother. God rewarded him with a kind and faithful wife.

This story, from the time of the early church, has been seen as a portrayal of the church as Christ’s bride. Abraham is said to represent God the Father seeking a wife, the new humanity, for His Son, Jesus Christ. Revelation 19:7 speaks of this marriage, “For the wedding of the Lamb (Jesus) has come, and his bride has made herself ready.”

Isaac, the son, represents Jesus Christ, who, like Isaac, submitted Himself to be sacrificed in obedience to His Father. Based on Sarah’s age at her death, many scholars think Isaac was 33 when that happened! The same age Jesus was when He was crucified. Isaac was out in the field waiting on his bride, like Jesus waits for His bride in heaven.

Abraham’s servant represents the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t speak of Himself, yet it’s He who draws us to Christ by first convicting us of sin, revealing the righteousness of Christ to us and sealing us for God as he makes us know we are called of God, then born again to become His sons. It’s the Holy Spirit, who like the servant, keeps us from harm on our journey to heaven and our bridegroom. Instead of giving us jewels from the bridegroom, He gives us the fruits of the spirit.

And lastly, Rebekah illustrates the believer. Again the choosing, the response to God’s Word and the work of the Holy Spirit.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Rebekah and Isaac: Continuing our Study of Genesis

Genesis 24:28-61 28 The young woman ran and told her mother’s household about these things. 29 Now Rebekah had a brother named Laban, and he hurried out to the man at the spring. 30 As soon as he had seen the nose ring, and the bracelets on his sister’s arms, and had heard Rebekah tell what the man said to her, he went out to the man and found him standing by the camels near the spring. 31 “Come, you who are blessed by the Lord,” he said. “Why are you standing out here? I have prepared the house and a place for the camels.”

32 So the man went to the house, and the camels were unloaded. Straw and fodder were brought for the camels, and water for him and his men to wash their feet. 33 Then food was set before him, but he said, “I will not eat until I have told you what I have to say.”

“Then tell us,” Laban said.

34 So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. 35 The Lord has blessed my master abundantly, and he has become wealthy. He has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, male and female servants, and camels and donkeys. 36 My master’s wife Sarah has borne him a son in her old age, and he has given him everything he owns. 37 And my master made me swear an oath, and said, ‘You must not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live, 38 but go to my father’s family and to my own clan, and get a wife for my son.’ 39 “Then I asked my master, ‘What if the woman will not come back with me?’

40 “He replied, ‘The Lord, before whom I have walked faithfully, will send his angel with you and make your journey a success, so that you can get a wife for my son from my own clan and from my father’s family. 41 You will be released from my oath if, when you go to my clan, they refuse to give her to you—then you will be released from my oath.’

42 “When I came to the spring today, I said, ‘Lord, God of my master Abraham, if you will, please grant success to the journey on which I have come. 43 See, I am standing beside this spring. If a young woman comes out to draw water and I say to her, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar,” 44 and if she says to me, “Drink, and I’ll draw water for your camels too,” let her be the one the Lord has chosen for my master’s son.’

45 “Before I finished praying in my heart, Rebekah came out, with her jar on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water, and I said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’ 46 “She quickly lowered her jar from her shoulder and said, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too.’ So I drank, and she watered the camels also.

47 “I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ “She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel son of Nahor, whom Milkah bore to him.’

“Then I put the ring in her nose and the bracelets on her arms, 48 and I bowed down and worshiped the Lord. I praised the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right road to get the granddaughter of my master’s brother for his son. 49 Now if you will show kindness and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so I may know which way to turn.”

50 Laban and Bethuel answered, “This is from the Lord; we can say nothing to you one way or the other. 51 Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has directed.”

52 When Abraham’s servant heard what they said, he bowed down to the ground before the Lord. 53 Then the servant brought out gold and silver jewelry and articles of clothing and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave costly gifts to her brother and to her mother. 54 Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night there.

When they got up the next morning, he said, “Send me on my way to my master.”

55 But her brother and her mother replied, “Let the young woman remain with us ten days or so; then you may go.”

56 But he said to them, “Do not detain me, now that the Lord has granted success to my journey. Send me on my way so I may go to my master.”

57 Then they said, “Let’s call the young woman and ask her about it.” 58 So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?”

“I will go,” she said. 59 So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham’s servant and his men. 60 And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, “Our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands; may your offspring possess
the cities of their enemies.”
61 Then Rebekah and her attendants got ready and mounted the camels and went back with the man. So the servant took Rebekah and left.
The servant didn’t want to be under any obligation as a guest until he had told the family why he was there. Rebekah’s brother agreed that this was from the Lord.

The next morning when the servant was ready to leave with Rebekah, her mother and brother asked if she could wait 10 days. According to the custom of the day, she could wait a full year. The brother left it up to Rebekah and here we see her faith. She would leave her home, family and friends to move five hundred miles away with a man she had met the day before to marry another man she had never met and live with him in a strange country.

So what was her faith based on? Well, first, the servant did bring a lot of gifts showing his master’s wealth. And then there was also his story of prayer and God’s answer. God gave her reasonable proof that this was of Him. But no one could decide for her. And she chose to go with God’s call. Just like Joshua says, “Choose for yourselves this day who you will serve.” And Jesus, when talking about Mary to Martha, said, “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” And just like we choose to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

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Friday, October 03, 2014

My Breaking Point, God's Turning Point

I just finished reading Pastor Ricky Texada's book, "My Breaking Point, God's Turning Point."

This is an extremely helpful book for anyone who is going through any kind of trial. While Ricky went through one of the worst things I can imagine (the unexpected death of his spouse), what he shares with his readers can be applied to any trial.

He shows us step by step what we as Christians need to do to: get through the problem while maturing in our faith and glorifying God in the process.

We learn from his story to keep moving forward, trusting God with each step. To keep worshipping Him every morning and to communicate with Him openly and honestly. Ricky says when we carry the heavy baggage of anger, resentment, unforgiveness, hatred and bitterness inside us; we don’t have room for God’s peace.

This book inspires us to view things through God’s eyes and to trust He is always working behind the scenes to grow us! I recommend getting this book for someone going through a trial, or getting it in advance for yourself. At some point we will all need it!

I was given this book by Bethany House to review.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Join me on a Western Mediterranean Cruise out of Barcelona September 6, 2015

This will be our third escorted group cruise. We always end up with a really nice group of people and have a lot of fun! Let me know if you'd like to join us!

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