Posts Tagged ‘Blessing’

flower-from-rockMatthew 19:13-15 – WHY SEEK GOD’S BLESSING IN THE DIFFICULTIES OF LIFE?

“One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so He could lay His hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering Him.

But Jesus said, “Let the children come to Me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And He placed His hands on their heads and blessed them before He left” (Matthew 19:13-15 NLT).

These parents were intent on having Jesus bless their children. They lived in difficult times. Why do we seek God’s blessing for our children? Does it make a difference? Will they be protected from life’s challenges? Will they avoid the pitfalls we encountered? What difference will it make? Will it change them or change us and our attitudes?

  1. A BLESSING SEEKS GOD’S HIGHEST INTENTIONS

Luke 2:27-35 (NLT) speaks about the day when Jesus Himself, as a baby, was blessed by Simeon. “That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there.

He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and He is the glory of your people Israel!”

Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about Him. Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but He will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose Him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”  

Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to be dedicated to God at the Temple where this blessing was made. In the light of these prophetic words of blessing concerning Jesus, is it surprising then that parents devoted to Jesus will always seek to bring their children to Him? They too seek God’s highest intentions for their children.

This blessing does not mean Jesus will by-pass the difficulties of life. Blessings don’t always mean that life will be easy. The blessing Simeon gave made it clear that Jesus’ life would have challenges, more than any of us will face. Many would oppose Jesus and Mary would end up having her heart broken.

I would rather go through life with Christ’s blessing than without it, so that I can face the difficulties and opposition I may encounter with His help. I need His strength and victory in my life.

  1. JESUS RECEIVES THOSE LIKE CHILDREN

Jesus receives children on one hand, and then Jesus rejects both the religious leaders and a rich man. The disciples were confused. In their minds, Jesus receives those whom He should reject, and He rejects those He should receive. He receives the humble and rejects the arrogant and proud.

Humility was not highly regarded as a virtue in those times, nor is it in ours.  Neither are women children given any real respect in many parts of our world. Human slavery is still a reality in our world. Christianity declares humility a virtue and not a weakness and has given women and children value. Parents are encouraged to bring their children to Christ.

Proverbs 22:6 (NLT) instructs parents about raising children. “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”

  1. JESUS LOVES ALL WHO COME TO HIM

It is interesting to note that Jesus rebukes those who disregard or disrespect children (Matthew 19:14-15), even His own disciples. Previously He refutes those who disrespect the marriage relationship, even the religious and governing authorities in Jewish society. He has not changed His views.

If Jesus blessed little children then we also can pray for them with hope and expectation that they too will one day follow Him and find His strength for life’s challenges.

Jesus loves all those who come to Him, of any age. He rebuked His own disciples when they tried to decide who should and should not come to Him.

John 1:12-13 (NLT) says, “But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.”

These verses speak of being open to Jesus, so let’s not seek to read infant Baptism into its meaning. Jesus uses the blessing as a symbol of being open to Christ and coming to Him in submission and trust for your life and for the future. It isn’t dependent on how capable you are or how much you lack. It depends on Him and He is willing to receive us and to give us His blessing.

The invitation of Matthew 19:13-15 is for us all to come to Him as dependent children, admitting that we need His blessing to be all He has intended for us to be as we face life’s challenges.

Pastor Ross

Advertisements

Adult and child

MATTHEW 19:13 – WHY WE BROUGHT OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST TO BE BLESSED

As Christian parents, Julie and I decided to bring our children to Christ to be blessed moments after they were born. I remember clearly in that miracle moment following the births of our children, lifting them up to Christ for His blessing. We still bring our children to be blessed in prayer.

Matthew 19:13 says, “One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so He could lay His hands on them and pray for them.”

What I love is that children were received by Jesus. He was more than willing to take time and pray for them.

At the very beginning of their lives, the spiritual prayers of righteous people are important for their lives. James 5:16 (NLT) says “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”

Laying His hands on these children was a way of identifying with them in order to symbolize the bestowal of blessing from God and dedication to God (Genesis 48:14; Numbers 27:23).

As I was reading the POSB commentary recently on this passage, I was prompted to think of the reasons why we bring our children to Christ to be blessed.These six reasons express the deepest prayers I have for my own children, even though they are now adults with children of their own.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST BECAUSE WE BELIEVE THAT CHRIST IS THE ONLY SAVIOUR OF THIS WORLD, not science or technology or medicines as wonderful as they may be.We believe that their only hope in this world is through relationship with Christ. Jesus made it clear. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but through Me” (John14:6).

1 Timothy 2:5 says “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”

We bring our children to Christ because we have personally experienced what it means to become born again into the family of God ourselves and know the reality of Salvation and new life in Him. We want them to be blessed with new life in Christ.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST BECAUSE HE WANTS TO BLESS THEM, then and now. In Matthew 19:14, Jesus says, “Let the children come to Me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”

 

We refuse to allow them to grow up neglected, ignored, by-passed, and pushed aside, given no direction and left to fend for themselves. We care enough to want the best for them, too.

We want them trained up in the ways of God, not squashed by the world’s values by being left unrestrained to express whatever sinful desires they like and indulged to the point of being totally selfish.

Because they belong to God, He wants the best for them. I want so much for them to look outside themselves and acknowledge that they need the help of God for the challenges they face in life. He wants to bless them with guidance.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST SO THAT THEY WILL HAVE GOD’S PERSPECTIVE CONCERNING THEIR IDENTITY AND FUTURE. He knows them better than they know themselves. They are unique and God has a unique destiny and purpose for them. We want them to learn that they are created by God for a purpose and that they make a difference in the world for Christ.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST SO THEY LEARN TO BE PEOPLE OF FAITH IN GOD AND BELIEVE IN HIS WORD, not simply look towards the popular opinions of the media. I don’t want the world and its influences to shape their thinking.

 

The TV and social media might be useful in their lives but I don’t bring them to the TV or computer to be blessed. I believe in helping them to shape their spiritual values and beliefs on what the Bible says. And this will be a blessing.

We want them to grow up with discernment about what is sin and not simply embrace the world’s popular values. We refuse to contribute to them becoming weak spiritually and feeling as if they have to accept anything and everything the world offers. We don’t want to leave them struggling to swim and sink in the cultural assault of a valueless society.

We are not so preoccupied with life that we don’t see our responsibility and the importance of raising our children in the ways of the Lord.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST TO BE BLESSED WITH HIS LOVE: that they know God’s love and learn to love others, which incidentally, is not necessarily accepting the lifestyle choices of others.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST BECAUSE THEY BELONG TO GOD and although He entrusted them to us, we want to acknowledge that they are His, which is why we raise them according to the principles of the Bible.

 

In Isaiah 64:8 (NLT), Isaiah sees a people that have deliberately chosen to be shaped by the world’s values, and he says “Yet You, Lord, are our Father.We are the clay, You are the potter; we are all the work of Your hand.”

The invitation is that we might bring our children to Christ that they may be crafted with a distinctive identity and future, not in our image but in the design and purpose of God for their lives.May the blessing of the Master Potter uniquely shape the lives of our children with His blessing, to be all they were intended to be.

Pastor Ross

 

Unfriended.jpg

Psalms 1:1 – UNFRIENDING

“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.” 

1. GO TO THAT PERSON’S PROFILE

If David was on facebook he would have unfriended them. Brothers Abishai and Joab are as wicked as they come. King David battled with their dispositions as well as their actions. After Joab killed Abner, David said, “And even though I am the anointed king, these two sons of Zeruiah—Joab and Abishai—are too strong for me to control. So may the Lord repay these evil men for their evil deeds.” (2 Samuel 3:39 NLT)

When David speaks of the wicked (or ungodly), the sinners and the mockers in Psalm 1, was he thinking of unfriending Zeruiah’s sons?

Or was David talking about others who were following him? He regretted Saul following him, who tried to murder him on several occasions, and Amnon who raped his daughter, Tamar. Perhaps he was looking at Absalom’s profile, his handsome, power hungry son who waited years to kill Amnon and then conspired on his timeline against David, causing a civil war? Is he talking about Ahithophel, his trusted follower and advisor who unfriended him by becoming a traitor?

Perhaps he is talking about unfriending bullies like Goliath and other Philistine enemies who served false gods and threatened his life? Is David talking about Shimei who threw stones and abuse at David, or perhaps Sheba and Adonijah who rebelled against David’s leadership?

Or was he simply thinking of unfriending me or people with whom I keep company every day? People like us. Oh, maybe we have not killed or threatened to kill anyone, conspired to create war, abused or rebelled or expressed traitorous intent to anyone, but surprisingly, the wicked are not always those who commit outwardly sinful acts. They are not always outwardly immoral or evil, not just the mass murderers or those involved in bikie wars, terrorist bombings, stabbings, drive-by shootings or any overt criminal behavior.

In the Bible, the wicked, sinners and mockers can be simply those who have unfriended God; forsaken God’s counsel, advice, guidance, purposes, plans and desires. It refers to anyone, overtly criminal in behavior or not in our eyes, who has blocked and discarded the purposes for which they were created and thus live in opposition to any intervention of God into their lives. Forsaking God can lead us in many directions, and not simply those we consider as being outwardly wicked. Conversely, people we consider befriending because we consider having acceptable behavior may well be wicked in God’s eyes.

2. SELECT UNFRIEND

“Walking in the counsel of the Ungodly” is following advice or guidance and making plans for our behavior in everyday life which is in keeping with those who have cut themselves off from God (un-Godly), those who have no inclination to follow, acknowledge or heed God’s Word. Determine to block their messages of potential-limiting advice. Refuse their News Feed, don’t go to their homepage. Turn off notifications to their updates.

Mocking God has joyless consequences.

Proverbs 13:19-21 (NLT) says “It is pleasant to see dreams come true, but fools refuse to turn from evil to attain them. Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble. Trouble chases sinners, while blessings reward the righteous.”  

1 Corinthians 15:33 (NLT) says “…bad company corrupts good character.”

With all the supposed social networks that we have in our world today, all the news feed of biased social media and those self-appointed experts on morality, justice and social norms, the Bible says there is still only one pathway for us to God. Through following Christ.

3. NEW FRIEND REQUEST

Perhaps that is why some have looked at this Psalm as a reference to the One who was the descendant of the author; the Lord Jesus Christ; One who never listened to the counsel of the wicked, never followed them, One who was free of sin and One who never regarded God’s will with cynicism or scorn. Son of David, Son of God.

God became man. There’s a message in your news feed. Top story. Trending, “good news of great joy”. Jesus goes to sinners to save them not conform Himself to their lifestyle. His perfect life opens the door to the Psalms as an example of his intentions for us. 1 Peter 2:21 (NLT) says, “…He is your example, and you must follow in His steps.” The Search tool is the Bible where you will find Him, His posts, apps, and events of His life, His viral reach. Become an engaged user.

Jesus is the only man who has completely lived a life which does not conform to the world around Him. Hebrews 4:15 (NIV) says that Jesus is able to sympathize with our weaknesses as “… One who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.” Jesus, in John 17:15-16 (NLT) prays for believers. “I’m not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.”

4. POKE

God is trying to get your attention. His invitation is to experience Joy and Blessing in life. The word “joys” as used in Psalm 1 is a plural word giving the idea of multiplied happiness, experiencing the full measure of joy with nothing withheld, contentment, ongoing peace, satisfaction, fulfillment, protection, assurance, provision and prosperity. It is a joy, peace, and assurance that transcends circumstances even when we encounter suffering.

5. LIKE

This joyful blessing is a gift from God. It results from His approval, His acceptance and favor. His likes are heart-shaped. His love is unconditional. But your Joy IS conditional on who you follow. Joyfulness is not simply a spontaneous response to circumstances but arises from an intentional choice to separate from those who extrude our enjoyment of life because they exclude the Way, the Truth and the Life. Two ways to live, two kinds of people, two roads, two destinies.

The invitation of the Bible is not to WALK in their way, STAND in their influence, SIT in their lifestyle, but to SIT in heavenly places in Christ, STAND firm in the faith and WALK with wisdom,…

“…for He raised us from the dead along with Christ and SEATED us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6 NLT), so “STAND firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13 NLT), and “be careful how you WALK, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17 NASB).

Romans 12:2 (NLT) says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God TRANSFORM YOU INTO A NEW PERSON by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Now that’s a milestone worth reviewing.

Pastor Ross

Related Article

https://davidkitz.wordpress.com/category/psalms/psalm-1/

 

Genesis 28:1-9 – HOW TO AVOID MISSING THE POINT ENTIRELY

Missing the PointIt was the first time I had spoken before Doc Gibson, a respected theological professor. Having been given a classic passage in the Old Testament on which to speak I had spent many hours reading every book and commentary I could find. By the time I came to speak I was exhausted from lack of sleep but felt I had something worthwhile to offer. The professor, however, after hearing what I had to say, told me that I had missed the point entirely. I was devastated. In a few minutes he summed up my blind spot and I went home a little annoyed, affronted, embarrassed and feeling sorry for myself. Over the next few days I reflected on how I could face the professor, but I kept coming back to the only conclusion I could make – he was right! How could I have missed something so obvious? Taking his advice, and seeking to diligently “find the point”, I was greatly encouraged at the end of the next year when I won the preaching prize.

All of a sudden in Genesis 28, Jacob, not Esau, has the full support of his father. Isaac has just blessed Jacob (Genesis 28:6), instead of him. How does Esau feel about all this? Understandably he feels he has been robbed. It’s as if he has caught the thief, laid charges but somehow on a technicality the case has been reversed so that the thief is awarded the damages. There is no justice. He is upset, rejected, annoyed, angry, hostile towards his brother, struggling to find answers. But hasn’t he also missed the point?

Jacob, his brother, is told not to marry a Canaanite and is sent to Syria to find a wife (Genesis 28:7). He is to go back to Rebekah’s family in Padan-aram, and marry one of his own cousins, one of the daughters of his uncle, his mother’s brother, Laban. Repeating the blessing of Abraham over Jacob (Genesis 26:3-5), Isaac, his Dad, tells Jacob that he will be a father of a great nation, and his descendents will own the land of Caanan. And just like that, by necessity, Jacob is propelled from the presence of his family.

It is obvious to Esau from this conversation his Dad has with his brother that his parents don’t approve of his choice of wives (Genesis 28:8). This has been clear since Genesis 26:34-35. If you had married Hittite wives (Canaanites, Philistines, Genesis 26:34), how would you feel listening to this go down between Jacob and his father Isaac? Esau, as impulsive as ever and so desperate to win back his father’s approval, does the only thing he can think of. Since Jacob is sent off to marry his mother’s niece, he will marry his father’s niece. That should solve the problem.

If you remember the story, Ishmael is the son of Abraham and Hagar. Abraham was married to Sarah and couldn’t have any children so Sarah gave Hagar, her servant, to Abraham as a surrogate mother. Hagar bore Ishmael (Genesis 16:1-4, 15). No Hittite blood here. Esau hopes his marriage into Ishmael’s family will please his parents. He wants to fix things outwardly by marrying someone who is not a Canaanite, but he missed the point entirely!

Esau’s descendents are called the Idumeans. One famous descendent is king Herod, who features in the Christmas story, is the Idumean who tried to take the throne of David, but who was merely a puppet king of the Romans. He was the Idumean who tried to kill Jesus after he was born by slaughtering every male child in Bethlehem two years and under. Unfortunately he highlights the characteristics of the Idumean line.

Although Ishmael was Abraham’s son his family line did not have faith in God. Esau aligned himself by marriage to Ismael and to the Hittites and although he was from the line of Abraham he did not have the faith of Abraham. Esau is still so spiritually blind that he just doesn’t get it! He thinks any connection by marriage to Abraham will regain approval with his Dad, but marrying into the family of Abraham is not the point! All through his life he has opportunities to submit his life to God. Even in marriage he misses the opportunity to marry a woman of faith and to serve God from his heart, but he is not interested.

He misses the point concerning his birthright! He misses the point concerning his blessing! He misses the point concerning his marriage! A birthright, a blessing and a marriage are all associated with responsible spiritual leadership under God. A birthright bequeaths spiritual leadership, a blessing bestows spiritual leadership and a marriage is a betrothal that gives expression to spiritual leadership as we submit to eachother and to God. He misses the point on 3 counts. But the invitation of this passage is that you don’t have to.

You have a birthright in Christ that has been bequeathed to you, a destiny to fulfil that is yours. In Christ you are blessed with the blessing of Abraham, blessed to be a blessing. The Bible says His Church is in marriage relationship with Christ, His bride. The invitation to have a personal relationship with God is yours. He loves you and wants a relationship with you. What would be the point of Christ dying for your sins if you were to gamble with your life at the Cross and not get the point of relationship with Christ?

Pastor Ross

MAY GOD BLESS YOU THIS YEAR

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Genesis 27:38 – 28:4 – WHAT WILL YOUR LIFE ATTRACT THIS YEAR?

Growing up, I never really got to know my father. I knew that at Christmas I could give him a record of Engelbert Humperdinck (Yes, a record and yes, that was his name, or at least his stagename). He liked cars, cigarettes and I liked reading, the Beatles and Bob Dylan. He was a tough man who worked hard for a living and went to the pub after work with his mates. I was a recluse who liked to hibernate in my room to paint, invent and write bad poetry. Having so little in common, I consequently learned nothing from him, (not even how to smoke, curse or drink). It might have been different if I had made an effort, and taken the initiative, but that was the farthest thing from my mind. I didn’t like him or want to be around him. Perhaps I was feeling the generational curse of a dysfunctional family rather than any sense of wanting to receive his blessing. I don’t remember him taking an active part in even giving gifts at Christmas. I guess Jacob felt a similar kind of estrangement from his Dad and affinity with his Mum.

But Esau had a good relationship with his Dad and wanted his blessing, any blessing, although it had already been given to Jacob. Genesis 27:39 (NLT) says “Finally, his father, Isaac, said to him, “You will live away from the richness of the earth, and away from the dew of the heaven above.” You will live in a desert! What does he mean by this blessing? “Away from the richness of the earth and dew of heaven…”? Not a good way to start blessing your son. Sounds more like a curse. What kind of blessing will your life attract this year?

Where Esau lives will be a reflection of the state of his heart. Esau’s descendents inhabited Idumea, a desert in comparison with where Jacob settled. Malachi 1:2-5 (NLT) is an indictment upon Esau’s negative attitude to God. Among other things the Lord says of Esau’s descendents “… Their country will be known as ‘The Land of Wickedness,’ and their people will be called ‘The People with Whom the Lord Is Forever Angry.’…”

In Genesis 27:40 (NLT) Isaac reflects his sons destiny and says “You will live by your sword, and you will serve your brother. But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.”” These are fighting words. This is a blessing with a mean streak. Esau attracts the kind of blessing for Vikings and the vanquished, villains and the violent, not what you would expect for a son! He was going to be a man of war when it comes to his brother. Esau had the nature of a warrior. He would hunt and fight for his living.

Repentance might have attracted a very different blessing. It’s interesting that Esau took no responsibility for the loss of his birthright and blessing. It did not bring him to a place of confession, only anger, jealousy and hatred of his brother. He even seems keen for his father to die so he can get on with murdering his brother. Isaac, his father, virtually gave him permission to live by the sword and break free of Jacob.

Esau’s people took Mount Seir by force from the Horites. Continually at war with the descendents of Jacob, they chose every occasion to be in coalition with their enemies, but never succeeded in overthrowing their Jewish overlords. King David made the Edomites slaves but they eventually shook free of this yoke and assimilated into the Arab nations. Isaac’s prophetic blessing was thus realised. What kind of blessing will your life attract this year?

Jacob, no doubt to his relief, is about to leave home to live with his uncle Laban for the next 20 years, and Isaac gives part 2 of the blessing that God intended for the line of Jacob. It is in such contrast to that of Esau but reflects what is in Jacob’s heart. Jacob’s life, despite his shortcomings, attracts the blessing of God. Jacob has included God in his life and God has included him in the ancestral line of Christ Himself. Isaac says “May God Almighty bless you and give you many children. And may your descendants multiply and become many nations! May God pass on to you and your descendants the blessings He promised to Abraham. May you own this land where you are now living as a foreigner, for God gave this land to Abraham” (Genesis 28:1-4 NLT). Now that’s a blessing! What will your life attract this year?

May God articulate His vision and blessing over your life this year, to release your full potential as you trust in Christ. May He extend your territory and increase your fruitfulness and influence for Him. May He increase your love for Him and for others. May love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control be characteristics of your heart that overflow in your life. May He give you opportunities to honour Him and may you take them.

Julie and Ross Cochrane

Related articles

Genesis 27:30-38 – WHAT ABOUT ME?

What About Me?

What About Me?

No presents were opened until my father-in-law came to the tree. He was the revered head of the family and it was his responsibility to cut the meat, say grace at meals, and hand out the presents on Christmas day. The anticipation for the kids was enormous. Everyone received a gift. The atmosphere of family was palpable.

To continue with the Christmas analogy, it’s as if Isaac decides that Esau would be the only one to receive a gift that year. It’s as if Esau says “I’ve been nice. I’ve prepared the Christmas dinner. Now give me my present, Santa.” In Genesis 27:31 (NLT) Esau’s approach to his father is self-interested and direct. “It’s Esau, your firstborn son. I’ve done as you told me. Here is the wild game. Now sit up and eat it so you can give me your blessing.”” 

Esau has already given away his birthright but he was desperate to receive his father’s blessing. As binding as a legal document, it will activate and bestow leadership, a double portion of the inheritance and spiritual responsibility upon his son. Financially the best Christmas present he could ask for.

Isaac says “Then who just served me wild game? I have already eaten it, and I blessed him just before you came. And yes, that blessing must stand!”” (Genesis 27:33 NLT). The question is rhetorical. Intuitively, both of them know who has received the blessing. Both of them know for whom it was intended, but when it dawns on Isaac that he has been tricked, he’s so shocked by the implications that he trembles uncontrollably. He can’t take back the blessing

It all makes sense to Isaac now. His suspicions have now been verified too late. “Your brother was here, and he tricked me. He has taken away your blessing”” (Genesis 27:35 NLT). It was never really Esau’s gift to have anyway. Esau is devastated. Genesis 27:34 (NLT) says “When Esau heard his father’s words, he let out a loud and bitter cry. “Oh my father, what about me? Bless me, too!” he begged.”

“What about me?” The cry of one who sold his birthright and forfeited the blessing that was passed down from Abraham. The cry of many who want God to answer their prayers but don’t want to come under His authority in any way. In Genesis 27:36 (NLT) Esau exclaims, “No wonder his name is Jacob, for now he has cheated me twice. First he took my rights as the firstborn, and now he has stolen my blessing. Oh, haven’t you saved even one blessing for me?” The “CHEAT” and the “VICTIM” (“Jacob” means “Cheat”. Who names their son “Cheat”??)

Isaac realises that the blessing he has given is fairly comprehensive. In Genesis 27:37 (NLT) Isaac says “I have made Jacob your master and have declared that all his brothers will be his servants. I have guaranteed him an abundance of grain and wine—what is left for me to give you, my son?”

That’s when the big man breaks down and cries. This was something he had really wanted from his father, even if he didn’t really include God in his life. Genesis 27:38 (NLT) says “Esau pleaded, “But do you have only one blessing? Oh my father, bless me, too!” Then Esau broke down and wept” (See Hebrews 12:14-17).

Like the rest of his family, Esau wants to divert or change God’s purposes. He wants God’s blessing but wants to do as he pleases. (Gal. 5:16-24). What stops Isaac from taking back this blessing when he discovers the deception? Why is this blessing not pronounced null and void? It seems that Isaac finally realises that his desire to bless Esau instead of Jacob is wrong (Genesis 27:33f). Abraham’s blessing is not withdrawn but endorsed.

It was wrong for Isaac to secretly seek to bless Esau with the blessing God intended for Jacob. It was wrong for Rebecca to seek to bring about God’s will by deceptive means. It was wrong for Jacob to seek to impersonate someone else and expect to be blessed. It is wrong for Esau to try to change God’s purposes. Let’s face it, we are all dysfunctional because of our sin, but God turns cursing to blessing. Fortunately Christ came to die for our sin. All of us have the opportunity to have peace with God and live under His promises. All of us have the opportunity today to receive forgiveness and the gift of eternal life this Christmas by believing in Christ. It’s interesting to think that God’s promises are offered in the midst of our sin to bring us forgiveness and reconciliation to God. The Abrahamic blessing is designed to bring a Saviour into the world through whom the world would be blessed. He was born into our dysfunctional world and we celebrate His birthday this Christmas. Happy Christmas!

Pastor Ross

Genesis 27:1-27 – RIGHT PRESENT, WRONG SON

TO ESAU?

To make a Christmas analogy, it was as if Isaac was wrapping up a Christmas present and giving it to the wrong family member. It was as if Rebekah was shoplifting to try to bless her son. It was as if Jacob was impersonating Santa Claus to be liked.

It is wrong for Isaac to secretly seek to bless Esau with the blessing God intends for Jacob. It is wrong for Rebecca to seek to bring about God’s will by deceptive means. It is wrong for Jacob to seek to impersonate someone else and expect to be blessed. Such mistakes will have serious consequences for this dysfunctional family in the future, but God still has a way of turning cursing to blessing.

If he was able to discern the voice of God Isaac would not forge ahead to bless Esau in the first place but now he blunders onto the set where he becomes the unknowing, though not innocent, performer in the first act of Jacob’s starring role as Esau. Although he is physically and spiritually blind, he suspects that he is not speaking with Esau, and he is left to initiate his own process of verification, based entirely upon his own reasoning and his other senses. Without God’s help all that is left is crude science.

QUESTIONS

Twice Isaac asks directly who it is. Jacob, prodded to deception by his mother, replies,“It’s Esau, your firstborn son. I’ve done as you told me. Here is the wild game. Now sit up and eat it so you can give me your blessing” (Genesis 27:19, 24 NLT).

REASONING

Not entirely convinced, Isaac asks, “How did you find it so quickly, my son?” Jacob is quick, “The Lord your God put it in my path!” (Genesis 27:20 NLT). Who can question the Lord? But Isaac is no fool. Perhaps he knows Esau would not give an answer that involves God. Esau seems to have left God out of his life. Why would he even mention God?

THE SENSES

Being blind he employs other available senses and says “Come closer so I can touch you and make sure that you really are Esau” (Genesis 27:21 NLT). Jacob comes closer to his father, and Isaac touches him. “The voice is Jacob’s, but the hands are Esau’s,” Isaac says (Genesis 27:22 NLT). Goat skin has been freshly stretched upon Jacob’s neck and arms. Isaac believes the hairy arms and hands of the goat deception, despite the dissonant chords of Jacob’s voice.

Over the meal, Isaac thinks of one more test. He says “Please come a little closer and kiss me, my son” (Genesis 27:26 NLT). So Jacob comes over and kisses his Dad. And when Isaac catches the smell of his clothes, he is finally convinced, and is willing to give his blessing. Isaac says, “Ah! The smell of my son is like the smell of the outdoors, which the Lord has blessed!” (Genesis 27:27 NLT). Jacob foresaw the need to wear Esau’s clothes (If Hugo Boss had been around he would have made a new men’s fragrance called “Fresh Air The smell of the great outdoors. Receive the Blessing” – expensive and deceptively alluring).

ANALYSIS

Jacob and Rebekah teach me that Deception cannot procure God’s spiritual blessings and purposes. Isaac teaches me that when I seek to defy God’s purposes then I am limited to my own resources, to my own reasoning and the senses. The senses will never plumb the depths of spiritual truth. The senses don’t make sense when faith and obedience are required.

God invites me to “…live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7 (NIV). He wants me to (excuse the sensory analogy) hear His voice, smell the fragrance of His Presence, touch the Hem of His garment, taste the very bread of life, see with the eyes of faith, perceive and receive His blessings for my life and for my family this Christmas.

Pastor Ross

Genesis 27:1-4 – DAY OF DESTINY – YOU ARE SO NOT INVITED!

Dear God, You are So NOT INVITED!

Can I really control my own destiny or is it predetermined for me? Can I frustrate fete or the plans of God or am I able to choose what I want for my life? What about Isaac and Rebekah? What about their sons, Esau and Jacob? I mean, none of them will admit to you that they are all trying to bypass and tamper with God’s will, but that’s what they are trying to do in Genesis 27. Can God’s will and purposes be thwarted? This story will be passed down for generations as an example of how the stubborn and hurried choices we make to determine our own future can go wrong, and how, despite our dogged desires, God is still able to accomplish His purposes.

Esau. Skilful with weapons. A sportsman/hunter. A man’s man. A Father’s favourite. Isaac loves his rugged outdoorsman son, Bear Grylls. Jacob, his other son, is a Mummy’s boy. That’s where all the trouble begins. Favouritism.

If Isaac had been reading his diary lately he would have been reminded that God told Rebekah “The sons in your womb will become two nations. From the very beginning, the two nations will be rivals. One nation will be stronger than the other; and your older son will serve your younger son” (Genesis 25:23). Jesus would eventually come from the line of Jacob, NOT Esau. He has spoken with Rebekah about this promise. Isaac knows that Jacob is supposed to receive the father’s blessing. Now he is intending to disregard God’s will. Is he blind? Well, as a matter-of-fact yes, totally (Genesis 27:1), but what I mean is he is making a big mistake!

A little further back in Isaac’s diary and we read that Esau isn’t interested in the family or in a relationship with God. Esau SOLD HIS BIRTHRIGHT to his brother for a pot of stew! (See Genesis 25:27-34 – Bear Grylls and Master Chef.) Irresponsible!, Perhaps he needs to go into the army for a season and learn a little discipline. He is definitely not suited for being CEO of the family business or leading his family spiritually. More suited to taking tourists on Safari. He doesn’t appear to have a spiritual bone in his body.

Isaac is not stupid. He knows the will of God, and he still wants to do things his own way. Hebrews 3:12 (NLT) says “Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God.” Now totally blind and well over 100 years old, Isaac thinks he’s going to die soon (Genesis 27:2. Understandable (How could he know he would live 40 years more – Genesis 35:28-29)!

He decides to act quickly and covertly to give Esau, not Jacob, the family blessing. Instead of killing one of the flock and celebrating a feast with family and friends, he asks Esau to go out and kill some game and prepare that instead. Then he would bless him and bestow leadership, inheritance and the spiritual responsibility upon him.

But how absent of celebration this blessing will be. How empty and devoid of congratulations! This is like a 21st birthday party without a cake and a mother’s kiss! Without music and laughter! Isaac acts in secret. He calls only Esau (Genesis 27:1)! He chooses a substitute feast and a secret celebration. No personal cost. As if God doesn’t notice! In Jeremiah 16:17 (NIV) God says “My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from Me, nor is their sin concealed from My eyes.”

Esau does not believe in God. It’s worth asking – Can I really send God a “You are so not invited to my destiny” Card and still expect the blessing of God? I know at times I have tried to control God and tell Him what I want Him to do for me as if He is a genie in a bottle. It makes me wonder what other ways I deliberately try to ignore, neglect, disobey and reject God?

Isaac leaves God out of his plans. Can I really expect the blessing of God when I refuse to include him in my decisions? I can’t receive what God wants for my life through the false hopes and dreams of my parents. The blessings of God, the Father, are given to those who are the children of God through faith in Christ. Galatians 3:14 (NLT) says “Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing He promised to Abraham, …THROUGH FAITH.”

The invitation God gives comes in the form of a Covenant promise and a sacrifice. The promise was Eternal life. The sacrifice was paid on the Cross when Christ died for our sins. Christ sacrificed His life for our sins in order to bestow the blessing of Eternal life. He invites you to believe in Him and receive the promised blessing today.

Pastor Ross

Genesis 24 – HOW TO FIND AND BE THE RIGHT PERSON – Part 5.

Cross = Love

Both have beautiful jewelry, except that one has a sapphire ring on her finger and the other wears a nose ring. One woman arrives to her wedding in a limousine. The other on a camel. One veils her face as she walks the aisle of a huge Church building to her husband whom she has known for 8 years. The other veils her face when she meets her husband for the first time.

Kate Middleton and Rebekah are both beautiful women but what is it that sets Rebekah apart? Perhaps it is that although Kate marries prince William, who in the future will be crowned the king of England, Rebekah marries Isaac from whom will come Jesus, who in the future will be acknowledged as the Prince of Peace and King of Kings.

Genesis 24 brings us to the outskirts of the city of Nahor. A stranger goes to one of the local wells. He knows that this is the local gathering place for the women of the city as they will come to collect water for their households in the cool of the evening. He rests the camels by the well and prays. Abraham has sent this trusted servant to find a wife for Isaac. But the question is “Who is right for Isaac?”

How is he going to find the right girl? He prays a simple, straight forward prayer for a clear sign to lead him. Matthew 21:22 (NLT) says “You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.” What CHARACTERISTICS would you be praying for? In the musical “Annie, Get Your Gun”, the lead sings a song called “The Girl That I Marry” and lists off a series of characteristics. What would you sing about concerning a girl for Isaac? Or perhaps for you?

The servant prays that the girl who is right for Isaac will be the girl who comes to the well and gives the servant water to drink at his request, and then shows extra consideration over and above that. She will suggest watering the rest of his camels, which is an enormous amount of work. (Apparently a thirsty camel can drink up to forty gallons of water, and there are ten camels!) This is a big ask. It will take some hours of her time. But it will solve two problems for the servant. A girl like this has to be right for Isaac, and he’ll have his “limousines” looked after in the process.

In the cool evening air she comes with no idea of how her life is to change. Rebekah must have sensed the presence of an angel as she arrives because God answers the servants prayer immediately. As far as she knows she is here to fill her clay jug with water and take it back to her household. The urgency to be first on the scene to draw water did not come from the whining commands of her mother but from the inner RESPONSIBILITY she feels to contribute to the needs of her family. Genesis 24:16 says “Rebekah was very BEAUTIFUL and OLD ENOUGH TO BE MARRIED, but she was STILL A VIRGIN. She went down to the spring, filled her jug, and came up again.”

The servant makes his request for water and watches to see if this is the right girl. Her beautiful eyes glance briefly into his with curiosity and she is careful to show him courtesy and respect. “Yes, my lord,” she answers, “have a drink.” CONFIDENT, WARM, FRIENDLY.

And then, as if compelled by an angel, this young woman, who knows what it means to carry a heavy pitcher of water back and forth from the well, immediately offers to draw water for all his camels. She adds the words “until they have finished drinking.” The servant is thinking “God answers my prayers even before I have finished asking.”

There is no reluctance in the melody of her voice as she makes this man she has never met before feel valued. SERVANT HEART to servant, Rebekah recognises opportunity to invest her time to help others (and get a workout at the same time). The INITIATIVE and RESPONSIBILITY she takes is a good deal for Abraham’s servant. He just stands there and watches.

Blessing so often comes when I take initiative and work hard in the everyday things of life without the expectation of reward. I see in Rebekah that she is a person who doesn’t live just to satisfy her own needs or just the needs of her family. She goes the EXTRA MILE. When you know God personally you will CARE FOR OTHERS. You seek to go a step further. She looks beyond what people want to what they need. She is THOUGHTFUL and CONSIDERATE and looks for ways to make life better for others. SELFLESS. She sees the chance to be GENEROUS and takes it. She is so much like my wife Julie.

Although she didn’t do the work expecting to get paid for it Rebekah is given some valuable jewellery in return for her help. This is the principle of sowing and reaping. Luke 6:38 (NLT) says “Give, and you will receive.” She gives over and above what is expected and she will also receive over and above what she expects – a husband. She may not realise it but she has just stepped into the purposes of God.

The invitation today is to be willing to go the extra mile without thinking “what’s in it for me?” Jesus knew what it meant to go the extra mile for us and die for our sins to bring us the water of eternal life. May God bless you in the random-acts-of-kindness opportunities that He brings along your way today. They could answer someone’s prayer and end up changing your life forever if you are willing to step into the purposes of God. We are blessed to be a blessing.

Pastor Ross