Archive for September, 2011

Genesis 26:1-17 – LIAR LIAR!

Liar! Liar!

I will always remember him. He lay in a bed seat, slightly twisted and looking at me with one eye half open. I was finishing a small Bible study devotional with a group of aged people. With a croaky voice filled with the bile of his past and exposed by his dementia he shouted “He’s a fraud! He’s a fraud! Don’t listen to him! Don’t listen to him! He only wants your money! He’s a fraud!” It was disconcerting to say the least.

The Bible says that it is the devil who is a LIAR and a FRAUD! John 8:44 (NLT) “…He has always HATED THE TRUTH, because there is NO TRUTH IN HIM. When he LIES, it is consistent with his character; for he is a LIAR AND THE FATHER OF LIES.”

REBEKAH WAS BEAUTIFUL. Rebekah had been married for many years to Isaac but she could still turn the heads of men wherever she went. I am sure she wasn’t trying to do this, but she was the Audrey Hepburn of the ancient world (What do you mean you don’t remember Audrey Hepburn? How about Sophia Loren? OK, Catherine Zeta-Jones or some other aging movie star?)

I don’t know what it was about the Philistines, but Isaac didn’t trust them. He thought they would try to kill him just because he had a beautiful wife. Where did that thought come from? Even if I go through a bad part of town, I don’t expect to die just because my wife is beautiful. This passage has never made any sense to me. Isaac’s life in Genesis 26 is looking like a B grade RE-RUN of an old movie from Genesis 12:13 and Genesis 20:2.

Anyway, he passes Rebekah off as his SISTER. How this protects Isaac, I don’t know! It certainly puts Rebekah in danger. What kind of a husband does this? What is he trying to do? How is a brother any safer than a husband? And how did Rebekah feel about all this? She is the one most in danger!

You know the story. Abimelech sees Isaac caressing Rebekah and he confronts them. I like Abimelech. He has more character here than Isaac. He gives orders to his men not to touch Rebekah or Isaac (Genesis 26:8). Abimelech is more willing to protect Rebekah than Isaac. Is Isaac some kind of wimp who has to have a Philistine fight to protect his wife? Abimelech is more aware of sexual sin. He doesn’t want the guilt to rest on his men should they try to sleep with Rebekah because of Isaac’s deception. Where did he get such a healthy respect for God and being judged for sin? If he lived today would he have still had such a conscience? HE LOOKS MORE LIKE THE BELIEVER THAN ISAAC!

Well done Abimelech! At least he has some form of integrity which is more than I can say for Isaac. Isaac JUSTIFIES HIS LIE to Abimelech because he thought his life would be endangered by telling people he is married to this beautiful woman. Why do we think that we need to LIE in order for God to keep us safe? I mean, do we really think that God needs me to SIN in order for Him to help us? Der!

Isaac shows me that I can move to a different part of the country and still find myself in the same place spiritually. I can get a little older and still be just as immature. Maturity has nothing to do with aging. Believe me, I know. ROUND AND AROUND. The sins of the father.

God wants me to love my wife and respect her enough to protect her and our marriage. That alone will provide a great example for others, and apart from anything else my wife is worth risking death for. How would I respond in a situation like this? I’d like to think that I would come out of it with my WITNESS and my MARRIAGE intact, but I know that anyone is capable of falling. Lord, protect my marriage and my witness for both our sakes.

The false accusations of an old man crying out “You’re a fraud!” hurt me but they also made me realize that I need to stay close to Christ who is the Truth and to His Word, the Bible. 1 Corinthians 10:12 in the Message version says “Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence.” Galatians 6:7 says “Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always REAP WHAT YOU SOW.”

Jesus said “I am the way, the TRUTH and the life…” (John 14:6). He is my Truth. He enables me to live a life of INTEGRITY. With Christ in my life I am able to live how God intends me to live and be GENUINE before Him and others and even myself, WITHOUT HYPROCRISY. Nothing fraudulent about that!

Lord, KEEP ME FROM EVIL so that I don’t bring disrepute to You or others or to myself. Let me live righteously before you today and in the joy of my salvation. Let me be a blessing to others today and live a life without hypocrisy.

God bless you as He replaces the habits of a lifetime with the habits of Holy living and the harvest of a fruitful life in Christ. In Him, you are not a FRAUD but a FORGIVEN, FAULTLESS, FAITH-FILLED FRIEND OF GOD, through Christ who strengthens you.

Pastor Ross

Genesis 26 – REMAKE OF BACK TO THE FUTURE

Remake of Back to the Future

“BACK TO THE FUTURE”, for those who weren’t around in 1985, is an American SCIENCE-FICTION ADVENTURE FILM, starring Michael J. Fox. It could easily be a re-make of Genesis 26.

MARTY MCFLY is sent back in time from 1985 to 1955 in a DeLorean and its plutonium powered FLUX CAPACITOR. Back in 1955 he meets his future-parents in high school. Then the UNTHINKABLE HAPPENS. He accidentally attracts his future MOTHER, LORRAINE, romantically. Gross.

Marty has to repair the damage to history by getting his parents to fall in love, otherwise he won’t have a FUTURE. He has a photo of the family in his pocket and his image is fading.

Marty’s future father is George. GEORGE, as a teenager, is afraid of a bully called BIFF, and Biff starts to pick on George and Lorraine. For once in his life George STANDS UP TO BIFF and with ONE PUNCH knocks him out. LORRAINE, Marty’s future Mother, is smitten with George and they kiss on a 1950’s dance floor. Eventually they will marry and this assures Marty of his existence in the future.

Now all Marty has to do is to get home to the future. With the help of scientist DR. EMMETT BROWN (“Doc”), who harnesses a LIGHTNING BOLT to power the DeLorean’s flux capacitor, Marty finds his way back to his future.

I want a PLUTONIUM POWERED FLUX CAPACITOR for my Mitsubishi Lancer! I want to be able to go back into the past and correct all the mistakes I have made. If I can’t have that then spare me from repeating the same mistakes that my parents have made, so that my past doesn’t keep becoming my future. Isaac has a similar problem in Genesis 26.

Isaac’s father, ABRAHAM (Abram then), was afraid of a man called ABIMELECH (Biff?). Abraham has a BEAUTIFUL WIFE called Sarah (Sarai).

He doesn’t want Abimelech to get JEALOUS and attract attention, so he tells Abimelech that Sarah is his sister. BUT THE UNTHINKABLE HAPPENS! He attracts the UNWANTED ATTENTION of Abimelech anyway! Abimelech takes Sarah into his harem with the intention of sleeping with her. Somebody has to REPAIR THE DAMAGE otherwise Isaac won’t have a future. He won’t be part of Abraham’s family.

Fortunately God intervenes (who needs a plutonium powered flux capacitor to protect the future when you have God on your side) and a curse is placed on Abimelech until he returns Sarah to Abraham. THUS ISAAC’S FUTURE IS ASSURED.

Now the interesting thing is that many years later Isaac, Abraham’s son, makes the SAME MISTAKE as his father. Isaac travels to a place called Gerar and meets a man called Abimelech also. Dejar vu! Like his father, Isaac is afraid that Abimelech will be jealous of his beautiful wife and try to kill him, so he tells people that Rebekah is his sister and not his wife. He is REPEATING HISTORY. The question is “Will he DESTROY HIS FUTURE by his lie?” He has put his whole future at risk because he is not willing to trust in God.

Fortunately Abimelech sees Isaac caressing Rebekah and confronts Isaac with the lie. Abimelech is more concerned about the truth than Isaac is, and orders his men not to touch them.

What is the future that God has planned for Isaac? In Genesis 26:3-4 (NLT) God says “Live here as a foreigner in this land, and I will be with you and bless you. I hereby confirm that I will give all these lands to you and your descendants, just as I solemnly promised Abraham, your father. I will cause your descendants to become as numerous as the stars of the sky, and I will give them all these lands. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed.”

God keeps His PROMISES made to Isaac. In the future, CHRIST would intervene in history as a descendent of Isaac, and would bless the nations of the earth as promised and REPAIR ALL THE DAMAGE that was done in the past. No need for a DeLorean to go back in time and fix my mistakes and sins. All we need to do is to TRUST IN CHRIST and what he has done for us when He died for our sins. Not a bad deal, but it requires FAITH (Romans 4:13).

What is the future that God has planned for YOU? The invitation is to stop repeating your past or living in regret. Only Christ can deal once and for all with my past mistakes so that they do not become a part of my future. Divinely generated FAITH, like an lightning bolt, helps me find my way BACK TO THE FUTURE God intended for me before the PHOTO FADES.

Pastor Ross

Genesis 26:1 – GOD RIDES A MOUNTAIN BIKE

Rachel's Bicycle

She has no money or likelihood of obtaining the $500 needed for its purchase, but my daughter Rachel sees a beautiful green bicycle with a basket advertised and decides that it is hers. She continues to believe that God will provide as she prays for her bike even though seemingly there is no way ahead. Psalms 37:4-5 (NLT) says “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him, and He will help you.” It’s not unusual then when Rachel’s husband Joel informs her that money that had been promised to them has unexpectedly been forwarded to him, more than enough. He purchases the bike, the basket, and everything she needs to ride her new green bike. Very cool.

In Genesis 26:1 Isaac and Rebekah are experiencing a time of “Not enough”. “A severe FAMINE now struck the land, as had happened before in Abraham’s time.” Why does the Lord allow FAMINE in a land where He said He would BLESS Abraham? Doesn’t seem to be right. Isaac is very wealthy. Not much good having wealth if he goes bankrupt because of a famine.

Isaac moves to Gerar. This is still in the promised land. Why did he go to Gerar on the coast, where the Philistines live? More water? Trade? But LESS SAFE. Later the Philistines are enemies. Isaac has a large retinue of people trailing after him and he is responsible to protect and feed them. Why go there in the middle of danger?

During this famine time the Lord appears. We are not told exactly how He shows up but obviously Isaac was intending to go to Egypt like Abraham had done during a similar time of famine, and the Lord specifically tells him not to go. He doesn’t want him there. Why? Was it because people in Egypt served other gods? Was it because it would mean Isaac would have to leave the promised land? Later a descendent of Isaac called Joseph would go to Egypt, but not by choice. Why does God so often want me to stay where He has put me rather than quit?

What interests me is that we are NOT necessarily protected from the “FAMINE” times. Don’t misunderstand me. What I am saying is that God can bless us even in times of extreme need, when the finances aren’t there, when the river runs dry, when there seems no way ahead. In fact God seems to speak the LOUDEST in the midst of the famine and testing times. Unfortunately when all I see is famine, potential loss and difficult circumstances then my spiritual hearing is affected and I can easily miss the powerful voice of God’s authority.

God gives Isaac the OPPORTUNITY TO OBEY Him during a tough time and to stay within the sphere of His PROMISES. The land He promises is the land that sustains them. What God promises in His Word will always sustain my life no matter what I am going through. I don’t need to look elsewhere just because it gets tough.

I am reminded that Psalms 23:5 (NLT) says that the Lord prepares “a feast for me in the presence of my enemies”. He promises to provide for me even when all I can see is potential trouble. That means that when God calls me to a ministry, and things get a little tough, then I won’t simply get off my bike and resign because it isn’t working for me. I will trust in God to help me work things through.

In Genesis 26:3 God tells Isaac to “Live here as a foreigner in this land, and I will be with you and bless you. I hereby confirm that I will give all these lands to you and your descendants, just as I solemnly promised Abraham, your father.”

This famine is a TEST OF TRUST for Isaac as it was with Abraham. Same test, different member of the family. The question – “Will I trust the Lord to provide?” Will I face such a test? Even Jesus faced a desert experience with no food and extreme temptation to take the easy way out.

As a follower of Christ I am a CITIZEN of heaven but I walk as a FOREIGNER in this world. God’s intention is that He will be with me and BLESS me. He will never leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). The invitation is to TRUST Him during the difficult times I am facing.

Do my desires for my life reflect His! When the going gets tough am I staying within the boundaries of His promises and trusting Him to provide and bless.

You have no money? What colour is that bike again? When even my wants are in line with the desires of the One who has authority in my life, then God will provide for me, and His presence will RIDE WITH ME! Only I’m sure that He would want me to ride a mountain bike. Lord?

Pastor Ross