Archive for July, 2011

Genesis 25:7-18 – HOW TO CLAIM YOUR INHERITANCE

Claiming Your Inheritance

“MISHMA, DUMAH, MASSA,” (Genesis 25:14). Three of the children of Ishmael, maybe triplets. Their names became a PROVERB. Adam Clarke in his commentary on Genesis says “Mishma” means HEARING. “Dumah” means SILENCE; and ‏”Massa” means PATIENCE. The idea is “Hear much, say little, and have a lot of patience.” Perhaps that’s what James was quoting when he wrote in James 1:19 (NLT) “… You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry”.

MISHMA, DUMAH AND MASSA were tested at the bank recently. It was a comedy of errors from start to finish. My Mum didn’t sign her will and after her death my elder sister and I wanted to personally finalise various papers at the bank. We wanted the bank to release the money from my Mothers account, our INHERITANCE. It would only take five minutes in my lunch break.

My sister met me at my office and we went to the BANK together. We finally found the bank in the heart of the shopping centre but realised we had left the papers in the car. So we walked all the way back to the car and then found our way down the three floors once again to the bank. It only took us about 15 minutes. Patience. Still plenty of time.

The woman at the bank was helpful but insisted that we needed to find a JUSTICE OF THE PEACE to authorise certain documents. Don’t say anything that you will regret. Listen to the woman. She is only doing her job. Patience.

The Justice of the Peace came in on Wednesdays. It was Tuesday. We walked back to the car and drove back to my office where I enlisted the help of a Justice of the Peace from my workplace.

With papers authorised, once again we travelled back to the bank. The initial fifteen minutes had become two hours by the time we finalised the papers. Now all we had to do was post these documents to our solicitor who would enable us to “CLAIM OUR INHERITANCE”.

It could have been worse. We might have realised that we had left the papers at the bank when we had arrived back at my office, but fortunately the quick thinking woman from the bank came running down the corridor and handed us the documents. We had left them on the counter. My sister looked at me and said “Don’t say anything!” and we laughed at how we had made a simple task take so long. Mishma, Dumah and Massa came in handy that day.

In Genesis 25, only Isaac is named on the will, signed by Abraham Himself, to take to the bank to collect his INHERITANCE. Only Isaac was chosen by God to be the son whose descendents would one day lead to Jesus Christ. Who needs a Justice of the Peace when you have the GOD OF JUSTICE AND PEACE to verify the COVENANT?

Neither Ishmael nor the six sons of Keturah share in the inheritance of Abraham, although all of them are his children. Before he dies, Abraham gives them generous gifts and sends them away. Perhaps Abraham is protecting what God has said about the destiny of his son Isaac.

Back in Genesis 16:12 (NLT) God told Abraham that Ishmael would “be a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live in OPEN HOSTILITY AGAINST ALL HIS RELATIVES.” The 12 tribes of Ishmael follow their father’s example. What a terrible way to live – in open hostility to everyone around them and to the purposes of God. I claim my inheritance by FAITH and not by FIGHTING against His purposes for my life.

Colossians 1:21-22 (NLT) says that because of sin we all fight God either openly or inwardly. It says “This includes you who were once FAR AWAY from God. You were His ENEMIES, SEPARATED from Him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now He has RECONCILED you to Himself through the death of Christ …” Christ bore the enmity, the open hostility and inward rebellion of us all, opening the way for me to have a relationship with Him.

What is that inheritance that God wants me to receive? 1 Peter 1:4-5 (NLT) that “we have a priceless inheritance—an INHERITANCE that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your FAITH (in Christ), God is protecting you by His power until you receive this SALVATION, …” Eternal life, forgiveness, peace with God.

MISHMA, DUMAH AND MASSA. Listen (MISHMA) and spend time to understand what God is saying (DUMAH) and remember that “the Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient (MASSA) for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent” (2 Peter 3:9 NLT).

The invitation of reconciliation is a prayer away. “Lord, I choose to be reconciled to You and receive the inheritance of Salvation that You have given to me in Christ.”

Pastor Ross

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Genesis 25:7-10 – HEREAFTER

Hereafter

Last night I watched a video called “HEREAFTER” with Matt Damon. It is a movie about people grappling with what happens to them after they die. Matt Damon plays the part of a reluctant Psychic who connects with people who have died by touching the hands of relatives. He relates what those who have died are saying. By the way, doing this is strictly prohibited in the Bible (Deuteronomy 18:10-14).

The thing that really strikes me about Genesis 25 is a clear reference to the HEREAFTER. Genesis 25:7 says “Abraham lived for 175 years, and he died at a ripe old age…” That’s an understatement! 175 is almost OVERRIPE but I think the idea here is that it was a fruitful life because it goes on to say that he “lived a long and satisfying life. He breathed his last and WAS GATHERED TO HIS ANCESTORS.” 

Think about that statement for a moment. Genesis 25:8 (NASB) – “GATHERED TO HIS ANCESTORS.” Henry Morris in his book “the Genesis Record”, points out that this is an interesting phrase since NONE of his ancestors were buried in the cave of Machpelah where he was buried, so it can’t refer to the actual BURIAL PLACE.

It has to be a reference to LIFE AFTER DEATH! Do “HIS PEOPLE” refer to those who died, from Adam down to him, believing in God? Are “his people” believers, the believing line through the line of Seth? I think so. God is creating a scarlet thread of redemption down through the pages of the Old Testament that will eventually end up with the birth of Christ. He is creating a spiritual line that extends down even further.

What makes this statement even more compelling as a reference to the HEREAFTER is that nineteen hundred years later, the place where believers are said to go to when they die is actually described as “ABRAHAM’S BOSOM” (Luke 16:22). We will be with Abraham, the father of those who believe (Romans 4:9-13).

Even the most Godly people die. 100% of us die. Romans 6:23 (NLT) says that “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Every person since Adam and Eve has forfeited their lives because of sin except, of course, Jesus, who never sinned. He did not forfeit His life but gave Himself up freely for us (John 10:17-18), paying the penalty for our sin (Romans 5:8).

John 3:16 (NLT) says “For God loved the world so much that He gave His One and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” 

The invitation God offers us concerning the HEREAFTER is to accept the gift of eternal life through faith in Christ. John 3:36 (NLT) says that “anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life.” There is a HEREAFTER. Not everyone who thinks they are going to heaven will be there, however (John 3:36), but those who place their trust in Christ and come under His authority will experience the gift of eternal life with God.

Abraham lived a long life and then received eternal life because he believed in the promises of God. Romans 4:9-25 (NLT) says “… that Abraham was counted as righteous by God because of his faith. … So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. … For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” …

The spiritual line of Abraham didn’t stop at Christ. It was intended to continue down through to me and you. It leads us to Christ and back to Christ. God bless you as you make choices today concerning Christ which echo in eternity.

Pastor Ross

Genesis 25:1-4 – HOW TO LEAVE A LIFECHANGING LEGACY?

Leaving a Lifechanging Legacy

The artwork and design of my wife’s book on her family tree is magnificent. The storyline is clear and so interesting. Hours and hours of work, a labour of love. I am so proud of her. A legacy for generations to come.

In the prologue of her book, Julie writes “It seems a strange thing, almost a disrespectful thing, to reduce the lifetime of one person to a page, a line or just a photo in a book. If only we could go back in time and spend an hour, a day, with each of our forebears, and listen to each one express their lives in their own words – the highs and lows, the challenges and accomplishments, the disappointments and surprises, the heartaches and celebrations – not only would we know more about them, we could appreciate more of the valuable contribution each made to following generations, and understand more about who we are ourselves.”

In Julie’s family tree we can trace back a history of ten generations and a history of faith in Christ for at least five generations. Who knows how many generations to come will seek to find a relationship with Jesus Christ as part of their family heritage? Others in the family tree we know very little about, however.

Everyone knows about Sarah and Hagar in the story of Abraham, but very few know that he also had another wife. In Genesis 25, Abraham Marries Keturah.

We all know he had trouble having children with Sarah. God healed both Sarah and Abraham in order for them to have children, so by the time he marries Keturah all those problems are long gone. Did you know that he had SIX MORE SONS, as well as Ishmael and Isaac?

Psalms 92:12-15 (NLT) says that “the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.” This is certainly true of Abraham.

What is the story with these other sons and grandsons of Abraham? They are given generous gifts and sent away. Strange names like Zimran, Ishbak, Ashur, (We named a cat Ashur. I wonder what ever happened to Ashur?) and Letush (great name for a market gardener), and Dedan (the trail goes dead with Dedan), and more. We never really find out? The line is followed only through Isaac, the promised son, not though these other sons.

It is strange to get a mention in Abraham’s family tree and then disappear into OBSCURITY. It seems they do nothing of any real significance worth mentioning. These other sons and grandsons made no real contribution to God’s purposes on the earth except to fulfil a promise made to Abraham of numerous descendents. Why are they mentioned by name at all? Perhaps God deliberately CONTRASTS them with those who follow the believing line which runs through Isaac. Will I leave a lasting Legacy or disappear into obscurity?

Abraham was a very wealthy man and at the time of his death Isaac inherits a huge fortune, everything Abraham has. But the HERITAGE OF FAITH that I give to my children is worth more than all my possessions. We have no idea of the difference we make when we believe in the promises of God and pass them on to our children. Genesis 25:11 (NLT) says “After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac” (see also Genesis 17:19).

The choices Abraham makes in his life give me an invitation to explore what it would look like if I believed in the promises of God. What if I, like Abraham, believed in the promise that one day through Abraham the nations of the world would be blessed. Isaac will continue the LINE OF FAITH that one day will lead to the Saviour of the world, Jesus Christ. What if I believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, who died for my sins?

Genesis 25 is not about Abraham’s death. It’s about LEAVING A LEGACY. I choose to believe in Christ and LEAVE A LIFECHANGING LEGACY of faith for generations to come. What about you?

Pastor Ross

SWAN LAKE REQUIEM

Posted: July 4, 2011 in Uncategorized
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TRIBUTE TO THOSE WHO HAVE PASSED AWAY RECENTLY

Swarn Lake Requiem

Rebecca Warren writes beautifully. One phrase that stood out as I sat reading her article made me think about a funeral I have conducted recently. “In the exhausted depression that too much grief can bring”. 

 http://beckslovelyblog.blogspot.com/2011/04/resurrection-in-dark.html

So let me begin with those words. “In the exhausted depression that too much grief can bring”, there where sorrow tries to hum its requiem, I still can picture the faces of those who have recently passed away, and I hear the joyful music of their influence, dancing its way around my heart.

What song can you sing when there are two different melodies, one sad and one joyful melody, competing with each other? What can you sing when eternity envelops our existence and draws the life of someone away, someone you have loved?

Not even the most experienced of musicians can adequately capture on a manuscript the musical score of what plays inside our heart when someone dies. The crescendo of an old and well-lived life seems to falter until all voices are silenced, and we are left feeling hollow and empty.

A few days ago, there I was once again, as the Chaplain of Shalom, with an empty manuscript, feeling that I was unskilled, but ready to create a tribute for someone who had recently passed away, hoping that it would be like an orchestral piece for a ballet or a beautiful song to honour a life well lived.

At those times, I need God’s help. He has created the original score for all our lives. He is the Master Musician. We all need His help when He comes to compose the finale of our time on here earth. 

Psalm 139:16 says that “all the days ordained for me were written in God’s book before one of them came to be.”

As a Chaplain working in an overtly Christian organisation, I always try to encourage people to put their faith in Jesus Christ, who has died for our sins and offers us the gift of eternal life to those who have faith in Him. I have found that faith in Him is a great strength to those who face the final stage of their lives. I think we all need His help and strength, but especially then. 

All we can do is say goodbye when someone dies, but faith in Christ gives me hope for the future for my own life. Psalm 30:11 says…“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever”

Pastor Ross