Posts Tagged ‘Rebekah’

JUSTICE AND GRACE

JUSTICE AND GRACE

“Matthew and his friends were sliding down a Mammoth Mountain ski run on a foam pad at 3am, when he crashed into a lift tower and died. His makeshift sledge of yellow foam had been stolen from the legs of a lift tower on Stump Alley. The cushion is meant to protect skiers who hit the tower, and the tower Matthew ran into was the one from which he had created his sledge.” (The “Darwin Awards” 1998). In Genesis 27 each family member takes their own infamous ski run which causes untold damage to themselves.

There is a rhyme and rhythm to poetic justice. Job 4:8 (NLT) says “My experience shows that those who plant trouble and cultivate evil will harvest the same.” We reap what we sow. Deception’s voice has an echo. The dissonant chords of sin are often resolved by Poetic Justice. In Genesis 27, amazingly, the tangled web of deceptive words and actions serves to highlight God’s Prophetic Grace.

ISAAC targeted Jacob. The operation sought to take territory rightly belonging to Jacob and put it in control of Esau. His efforts to bypass God’s purposes brought about great damage in his own life, a form of Poetic Justice. He lost the respect of both his sons (Genesis 28:1-5). He lost the trust of his wife. His desire to bless Esau instead of Jacob led to Esau being hurt deeply by his unfulfilled promise.

REBEKAH targeted Isaac and Esau. Her covert operation was enacted with military precision but caused untold collateral damage to herself. She suffered the loss of her favourite son and the trust of her other son (Genesis 27:43-45). Intelligence reports alerted Rebekah on Esau’s intentions to kill Jacob. Her deception had put her boy in harm’s way, and she was forced to make contingency plans on the run. Jacob was now trapped behind enemy lines, and had to be evacuated (Genesis 27:46 – Genesis 28:1-5). She paid the price for all her deceptive tactics in Poetic Justice – she never saw him again. She died before he returned. No doubt she spent a lot of time in a foxhole seeking to avoid the bullets flying around her from her husband Isaac and son Esau who no doubt had lost all confidence and trust in her as an ally.

ESAU targeted Jacob. His covert plans with his father tried to change God’s purposes and it left him in conflict with his brother and severely wounded by his father and mother. The unintended rejection by his father wounded Esau (Genesis 28:6-9) and left him bitter and insecure. Instead of a blessing he received a curse. Esau’s only option was to live the rest of his life in survival mode amidst constant conflict as a mercenary in many unstable military situations. He would be captured (Genesis 27:39-40) and subjected to hardship but eventually escape.

JACOB targeted his father Isaac and brother Jacob. He impersonated his brother to gain his objective (Genesis 27:6-29) but this led to devastating damage to himself. He obtained only the hate of his brother, Esau. (Genesis 27:41). In this climate of instability Jacob would have lived in constant fear of being murdered by his own brother.

Fearing civil war in the family Isaac makes the decision to extract Jacob from danger, and move him to a more friendly environment with his uncle (Genesis 27:42 – Genesis 28:1-5). He suffered the separation from his family, living as a fugitive (Genesis 27:42). He never saw his mother again. Although his uncle gave him refuge Jacob was tricked into serving him for about twenty years. The damage was ongoing (Genesis 29:15-30; 37:1-35), years of reaping what he had sown. Poetic Justice. 

Despite all this, God’s purposes were achieved and the promise of Abraham (Prophetic Grace) was passed down through Jacob as God had originally intended. Deception always reaps a harvest of unexpected, unintentional suffering and pain, but God still has the desire and power to turn cursing to blessing. Romans 6:23 (NLT) says “For the wages of sin is death, (Poetic Justice) but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord (Prophetic Grace).

Romans 5:8-10 (NLT) says “But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” It seems our sin killed the One sent to save us from sin. The consequences of Poetic Justice are resolved by the covenant of Prophetic Grace when we believe in Christ. The choice is ours. 

Pastor Ross

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Genesis 27:1-27 – WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

Celebrities trace their family history and tell such interesting stories about their ancestors in the classic series “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?” They find those who fought in major battles, accomplished heroic deeds, overcame insurmountable circumstances. Some lived infamous and tragic lives. All lived extraordinarily unique lives and their loves and hardships tell a moving story that inevitably brings tears to the eyes of their descendants who, in uncovering their past, layer by layer, are discovering more of who they are.

To trace Jesus family tree ancestry.com would take us back to Genesis 27 where Isaac wants to give his son ESAU the generational blessing handed down from father to son from the time of Abraham, even though God has promised that it will be his other son Jacob who leads the family (Genesis 25:23, Romans 9:10-13), not Esau.

Obviously not an identical twin, ESAU is the Bear Grylls of the Old Testament, only with body hair.Rugged, unkempt and lion-like, he is more Hagar the Horrible than Brad Pit, more caveman than business-man. He is a great hunter, sportsman, an outdoors man. And he has rejected God in his life.

Much less adventurous than his brother, JACOB stays around home. He’s the Master Chef of the family, especially good at making stew (Jacob has already used his cooking skills to entice his brother into giving up his Birthright – Genesis 25).

Rebekah, their mother, will go to any length to see Jacob, not Esau, receive the Father’s blessing for the firstborn. Whatever it takes! Even if it means deceiving her blind husband! Lying comes easy to this family.

Not really knowing who he is, and easily led by his Mum, Jacob seeks to accomplish God’s will by IMPERSONATING ESAU. With a family history riddled with such ruse, now it’s his turn to play a leading role. Records show that Sarah acted the role of Abraham’s sister (Genesis 20:2). Rebekah played the role of Isaac’s sister (Genesis 26:7). I’ve done it too. I admit it. (no, not played the role of my sister! What I mean is that I’ve tried to imitate others.) I’ve tried to look like, act like, preach like famous preachers in the hope I might receive their blessings, instead of simply being myself and allowing God to fulfil the promises for my life in His way. What about you? WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

With goat’s skin stretched onto his arms and neck and wearing Esau’s clothes, Jacob impersonates Esau. He lies to his blind Dad, saying “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.Isaac asks, “How did you find it so quickly, my son?” “The Lord your God put it in my path!” Jacob replies. He blasphemes God by saying that GOD gave him success in finding the game so soon, but notice he says “The Lord YOUR God” helped me to hunt (Genesis 27:20), and not “the Lord MY God” because he knows that this is what Esau would say.Esau has no faith of his own.

God wants me to be myself, yet the Bible speaks of imitating Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). Does it mean that I lose my personality in order to receive God’s blessing? Do I have to live a lie? Followers of Christ often say “More of Him, less of me” but does God want me to be LESS of who I really am? John the Baptist declares in John 3:30 (NLT) “He (Christ) must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” but what does he mean? Did God want him to be less of himself? In Mark 8:33-38 (NLT) Jesus says “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?”

Only by knowing and loving Christ can I truly understand who I am. Jesus wants those who have a relationship with Him to live life to the full (John 10:10). John the Baptist was preparing the way for Christ to fulfil His destiny in dying for our sins, so that we could receive the gift of eternal life and live our lives under His blessing. We are to be filled with the Holy Spirit, so we can be all God intends us to be, not emptied of ourselves, but fully alive in Him. Not less of myself but certainly less selfish! Not sinless but sinning less. I don’t have to live a lie, but be honest to God.

The question is not so much “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?” based on your family tree, but “WHO HAS GOD CREATED YOU TO BE?” based on being in the family of God. As His children, we live the life He intended for us to live in all it’s fullness, …and pass on to our children the generational blessing found in knowing Christ.

Pastor Ross

Genesis 27:5-17 – THE STING – HOW TO SHAPE YOUR DESTINY THROUGH DECEPTION

THE STING

My Mum always believed that a little white lie was always acceptable if it brought about the right end. Rebekah went all in for THE STING. Strictly speaking, Esau is her FIRST BORN SON, if only by a few seconds, and as such is entitled to certain privileges. A first-born son in Old Testament times is given the overall LEADERSHIP of the family, the SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY of the family as well as a DOUBLE PORTION of the inheritance. This is his BIRTHRIGHT. This is how it is always done. Or is it? If it’s up to Rebekah, it won’t be.

Romans 9:10-13 says “When Isaac married Rebekah, she gave birth to TWINS. But before they were born, before they had done anything good or bad, she received a message from God.” She was told, “Your older son will serve your younger son.” That had an impact on Rebekah then, and years later it still does.

THE SET-UP

Overhearing a conversation Isaac has with Esau, Rebekah discovers that Isaac intends to secretly give the family blessing to Esau NOT JACOB. Once given it will be binding and irrevocable. Family inheritance, family leadership, spiritual authority. BUT GOD PROMISED REBEKAH THIS WOULD GO TO JACOB!

THE HOOK

When life appears to be going pear-shaped for your children, don’t give up! Manipulate, deceive, badger and lie! If God won’t work things out immediately, do it yourself! At least this is Rebekah’s way of getting things done. Rebekah wants to work out the will of God on HER OWN TIMETABLE in Genesis 27.

There is always a Rebekah, who feels she is responsible, playing God, but in the most ungodly of ways. God said it, I believe it, BUT… Lacking faith in God’s ability to accomplish His promises, Rebekah has her own plan, a STING OPERATION on her blind husband. It’s a long-shot and poorly conceived, but she finds Jacob and gives him an opportunity to earn an Oscar. Not wanting Jacob to be the biggest loser and be by-passed for a leading role in life (Genesis 27:6-7), Rebekah tells Jacob that deception, trickery, fraud, dishonesty, lying and a sting operation is the only way left for her to fulfil the will of God! How twisted is this kind of thinking?

THE STING

She convinces Jacob to bring two of the young goats from the herd and she cooks them in the way Isaac likes. To complete the ruse, she finds some clothes belonging to Esau and puts them on Jacob. Since Esau is hairy, she glues goat skin to Jacob’s hands and neck (Genesis 27:16). She gives Jacob the meat and sends him in to play Esau and receive the blessing from his blind father. Simple. Who will ever know?

I can know God’s will and try to bring it about in the wrong way and in the wrong time. God doesn’t need me to lie and scheme in order to accomplish His purposes for my life. Do I really believe that unless I don’t act now it won’t happen and if I don’t do something God will bypass me? Is a deceptive means to a good ending justified? Is it really up to me to bring about God’s will in whatever way I please? I know I have to co-operate with God, but it seems to me Rebekah’s method is a bit sus.

God says “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT).

THE INVITATION God so patiently gives is for every one of us to believe Him and His promises. Like a father, He longs for relationship with us. He wants to include us in HIS plans, not the other way around. When I simply try to include Him in MY plans, I get it wrong and although He can turn cursing to blessing, He doesn’t condone my sin. Will my impatience with His timetable set into play a series of consequences that will inevitably shape my destiny in adverse ways? He gives every person the invitation and the opportunity to place their trust in Christ and come under His authority for their lives, and to co-operate with Him along the way. Only He knows the beginning from the end. He can shape my destiny based on integrity not a sting operation. He likes to write the end of the story with my co-operation not my interference.

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 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 25:21-23 – CAN OF WORMS!

Can of Worms

Some of the questions addressed in the TV show called “CAN OF WORMS” are “Is porn a normal, healthy part of adult life?” 52% of Austalians said “No!” “Is marriage necessary anymore?” 78% of Australians said “Yes!” and 68% said that gay people also have a right to marry.

Three guests, a studio audience and people from all over the world find out what Australia really thinks, especially controversial subjects such as political correctness and personal values. “Do Australians swear too much? Is the burqa out of place in Australia? Is it OK to spy on your kids online?” Each question is designed to open up a CAN OF WORMS. No absolute values. No right or wrong answers.

To open a can of worms means “to inadvertently create a host of new problems while trying to solve one.” The idea is that once you open a can of worms it is impossible to stop them from trying to escape.

Way back in Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve sinned they OPENED A CAN OF WORMS. Their actions released a host of IRREVERSIBLE PROBLEMS and COMPLICATIONS into the world that only God could resolve. As long as the “can” remained sealed through obedience to God, there was no harm, but once it was opened it set off a chain reaction of events with totally unexpected and complex consequences that irrevocably changed our world. It’s called SIN.

For 20 years Isaac and Rebekah have prayed for children and the Lord answers their prayers (Genesis 25:21). But in a sinful world, it seems that prayer always stirs things up spiritually.

Rebekah has an abnormally tough pregnancy. She prays “Why is this happening to me?” The Lord answers Rebekah directly somehow. Does she get a prophetic word from an angel? Does her answer come through a dream or a sign? Does God show up personally like He did with Abraham? Here is where I would like to know the details, but somehow God is more interested in telling me WHAT He said rather than HOW He said it. Is it just me that gets so interested in the MIRACULOUS that I miss the MESSAGE? Lord, help me focus on what is RELEVANT, not just on what is REMARKABLE.

The Lord tells her she is having twins, but reveals to her some rather unexpected twists that will take place in their lives. Something spiritually will be stirred up by the birth of these sons. The trouble Rebekah is experiencing is used as a picture of things to come.

“They will be RIVALS! One will be STRONGER! The older will SERVE THE YOUNGER!” (Genesis 25:23). This is all upside down and inside out and it only COMPLICATES things! It’s not POLITICALLY CORRECT! It messes with the CULTURE of the time. For this to happen the inheritance and blessing from Isaac will have to come to the youngest son and not the oldest. This is NOT DONE! When God answers prayer in a sinful world it can stir up a CAN OF WORMS.

Does Rebekah mention this Word from the Lord to Isaac? Is she going to try to manipulate things to help God along with this promise?

Will I try to adjust the plans of God in my life? Prayer releases the promises of God, but am I really willing for God to answer the deepest prayers of my life when I don’t know WHERE IT WILL LEAD? Who knows what could happen? UNEXPECTED CONSEQUENCES that only He can foresee, IRREVOCABLE PROBLEMS and COMPLICATIONS that only He can resolve? A MINE FIELD to navigate where only He can lead?

Just because God answers my prayers doesn’t mean I won’t experience difficulties or that I won’t feel out of my depth. Everytime I pray, something in the spiritual atmosphere of this world is STIRRED UP as God intervenes to deal with the CAN OF WORMS created by our sin.

The believing line of descendents from Abraham carry the promises of the Covenant. The Messiah Jesus will come from this line, and in fulfilling this promise the world will be IRREVOCABLY CHANGED. A battle begins, and is waged in the hearts of men and women to this very day.

Romans 8:28 (NLT) assures me “that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” When prayer stirs up a can of worms, I am unable to deal with it, BUT GOD CAN. He can sort out the mess.

Somehow only the Lord Jesus Christ can deal with the consequences of my sin, no matter how complicated, twisted and out of control things have become. It may mean He does things a little differently to our expectations and it may cut across our cultural norms and look totally upside down to us, but He knows what He is doing. He is the only WAY, TRUTH AND LIFE (John 14:6). The invitation is always to TRUST in Him.

Pastor Ross

Genesis 24 – THE PERFECT WIFE OR A DOMESTICATED DOORMAT? – Part 6

Perfect Wife or Doormat?

The Formula in the 50′s FOR THE PERFECT WIFE get your work done, have dinner ready for your husband, look good for him, minimize any noise before he arrives at the door after work, be happy to see him, don’t greet him with problems and complaints, don’t complain if he is late for dinner, make him comfortable, listen to him and make the evening his (Was this designed by the PERFECT WIFE OR A DOMESTICATED DOORMAT?)

Now picture this scene found in Genesis 24. Abraham sends his servant with 10 camels and a sizable fortune in gifts to find THE PERFECT WIFE for Isaac. He asks God for a SIGN so he’ll recognise who is the right girl. The sign? The girl who not only gives him water to drink from her jug but also offers to water his 10 camels will be the one. Rebekah makes such an offer. This is like having someone offer to fill up 10 EMPTY TRUCKS with petrol. It’s going to take a long time. But so far so good. She seems like the perfect wife for Isaac (not to mention that it will save him watering the camels).

He discovers a number of things about Rebekah at the well that day. She is BEAUTIFUL, SINGLE. She is CONFIDENT, WARM AND FRIENDLY despite the fact that he is a stranger. She calls him “lord” which was a way of showing RESPECT. She has a SERVANT HEART. She’s THOUGHTFUL, CARING, CONSIDERATE, SELFLESS, willing to go the EXTRA MILE to help out. She puts the needs of others before her own. She’s a FITNESS FANATIC (Carting all that water would keep anyone fit). She’s STRONG AND HEALTHY. She is definitely NOT AFRAID OF HARD WORK. She’s FLEXIBLE with her time. She is there to get water for her family but she goes out of her way to help someone else first.

Apart from this she has FAITH IN GOD and she is HOSPITABLE. She invites him to stay with her family

Genesis 24:26-28 (NLT) says that the servant “…bowed low and worshiped the Lord.” As far as he is concerned, God has answered his prayer. He gives her some EXPENSIVE JEWELLERY including a nose ring and Rebekah runs home “… to tell her family everything that had happened.”

What would you do if your DAUGHTER COMES HOME LATE, wearing expensive jewelry and raving on about a man she has just met that evening? I’d be a little suspicious if it was my daughter and I’d want to get rid of the man. Not Rebekah’s brother Laban. He’s the head of the family but he is also a business man so when he SEES THE JEWELLERY that Rebekah is wearing all of a sudden this servant becomes HIS BEST FRIEND. In Genesis 24:31 he says “Come in, blessed of the Lord! Why do you stand outside since I have prepared the house, and a place for the camels?”

Just before the evening meal the Servant explains how he asked God for a sign and that he thinks that Rebekah is God’s choice for Isaac. He lays it on the line “Please tell me yes or no, and then I’ll know what to do next.” (I knew a girl once who said she knew that it was God’s will that she marry a friend of mine. Strangely, God didn’t tell him too and he ended up marrying another girl). Is this man being EMOTIONALLY MANIPULATIVE or has he really heard from God?

Laban and his father Bethuel believe in God and when they hear of how the servant received a sign from God, they say, “The Lord has obviously brought you here, so there is nothing we can say. Here is Rebekah; take her and go. Yes, let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has directed.”

The servant lavishes the family with a FORTUNE IN GIFTS. What is this? Human trafficking, SELLING YOUR DAUGHTER? Rebekah hasn’t had a say in any of this yet! What is she? Some KIND OF DOORMAT OR OBJECT OF EXCHANGE?

By early the next morning, it looks like the deal has changed however. Laban has been talking to Rebekah’s mother and they say “We want Rebekah to stay with us at LEAST TEN DAYS, then she can go.” Abraham’s servant is straight with them. He says “Don’t mess me around. This is God’s will and we’ve made a deal.” Actually he says “Don’t delay me. The Lord has made my mission successful.”

“Well,” they say “we’ll call Rebekah and ASK HER what she thinks.” IT’S ABOUT TIME that Rebekah actually gets to say something about their plans for her life! Ever felt like God loves you and EVERYONE ELSE has a wonderful plan for your life? So they call Rebekah. Oh, by the way Rebekah, “Are you willing to go with this man?” they ask her.

Rebekah is no doormat. She’s INTELLIGENT enough to make up her OWN MIND. She’s heard everything the servant said and she is ASSERTIVE AND DECISIVE. She makes a decision immediately based on what she has heard. What would you have said? She replies, “Yes, I will go.” She is quick to recognise that God is in this and that this is her opportunity to fulfill her GOD GIVEN DESTINY. She doesn’t insist on staying an extra 10 days like her family requests. Just as well! Major spanner in the works if she had said “NO. I’M NOT GOING ANYWHERE AND I’M NOT MARRYING ANYONE!”

Sometimes people say that CHRISTIANS ARE JUST PASSIVE DOORMATS who follow GOD’S RULES AND REGULATIONS MINDLESSLY. I don’t follow Christ because I HAVE TO. I follow Him because I WANT TO. He has won me over with who He is and what He has done for me on the Cross. There’s a difference between CO-OPERATING WITH GOD and being a DOORMAT. I have a CHOICE.

Rebekah is a RISK TAKER. Faith is always a risk. GIVING YOUR LIFE TO CHRIST is always a risk. Some people say “FAITH IS BLIND because it involves taking a risk. FAITH MAY BE BLIND BUT IT ISN’T DEAF! Faith comes when we HEAR what God has to say for our lives and then we CHOOSE, by an act of our own FREEWILL, after receiving His revelation of Truth, to step out and act upon it without knowing what the future holds. Rebekah courageously takes a step of faith by her willingness to give up her life with her family and go with this man to a land she has never seen, to marry a man she has never met. I like this woman of faith. It is no wonder that Isaac falls in love with her.

Although everyone else seemed to have a plan for her life, Rebekah listens and responds to what God is saying to her and makes a decision that changes the world. She doesn’t know it but this decision will impact the future as God fulfils His promises. One day Jesus will come from the line of Isaac.

Rebekah encourages me NOT TO BE A DOORMAT to my circumstances or to other people. God bless you as you COOPERATE WITH GOD’S PLAN for your life today and in doing so LIVE LIFE TO THE FULL and make a difference in the world.

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

Genesis 24 – THINGS THAT DON’T GO TOGETHER – Part 3

Just Married!

The engine of a Fiesta in a Ferrari! Pickles and icecream. There are certain things that definitely DON’T go together. Aluminium foil and microwaves (Julie rediscovered this recently). Children and cancer. Wouldn’t it change the world if honesty and politics went together.

It was dark when I dressed and when I arrived at the Church building we sat around in a small circle of dedicated students learning and reciting Greek declensions with our Pastor. It was about halfway through one of these early morning classes that I noticed my shoes. I was wearing TWO DIFFERENT KINDS OF SHOES! Very embarrassing. I wonder if anybody else noticed? Certain things should not be worn together.

Deuteronomy 22:10 (NLT) says “You must not plough with an ox and a donkey harnessed together.” The idea here is that there are certain things that are totally INCOMPATIBLE. They were never meant to be placed in the same yoke, never meant to be together in the same equation. Just won’t fit! Won’t make sense! Doesn’t work well!

Abraham wants his son to marry a woman from among his own relatives and insists that he must not marry a Canaanite girl. It almost seems RACIST! Wouldn’t it be better to form an alliance through marriage with the people who are there in the land promised to Abraham? What an easy way of claiming the promised land. You would think that it would HELP THE PROMISE along a little. So far Abraham only owns a burial plot that he bought for Sarah. Why not also form a covenant through a marriage to a Canaanite girl with his son? It was clear that he DOES NOT WANT THIS TO HAPPEN. Why? Are we to be DISCRIMINATORY when we choose a marriage partner? No, but we are to be DISCRIMINATING.

The Bible speaks of our relationship with God as being the most important relationship we will ever have, even more important than our marriage relationship. When we marry we form a COVENANT. That covenant is used as a picture of our relationship with God. Ephesians 5:25 (NASB) says “Husbands, love your wives, just AS CHRIST ALSO LOVED THE CHURCH and gave Himself up for her,…”   The Canaanites were idol worshipers and REJECTED THE GOD OF ABRAHAM.

There are certain things that DEFINITELY DON’T GO TOGETHER. Ur and Abraham. Sodom and Lot. Idols and the temple. Christ and the devil. Light and darkness. Righteousness and wickedness. A FOLLOWER OF CHRIST MARRYING AN UNBELIEVER. 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (NLT) says “DON’T TEAM UP WITH (be UNEQUALLY YOKED with) those who are unbelievers.” It’s like harnessing an ox and an ass together.

Abraham is confident that the Lord will send an ANGEL ahead of the servant to help him find the right girl for Isaac among his relatives. Angels have already played an important part in Abraham’s life (Genesis 18, 19, 22). By the way, he is not talking about A CUPID-LIKE ANGEL, so let’s not go there. It was probably Gabriel or Michael, the fiercest of all angels, sent to protect the promises of God to Abraham.

A GREAT NATION was coming through Abraham. JESUS would one day be born through this family line and it seems God didn’t want anybody or anything, demonic or otherwise, to interfere with the process of finding Rebekah. Abraham’s faith had been tested and he had learned some valuable lessons. He is doing everything he can to make sure that he doesn’t get in the way of God again.

Perhaps it was the archangel Gabriel who was sent. Afterall Gabriel turns up at the birth of Christ to Mary (Luke 1:26) and angels throughout the Bible have a way of protecting people (and I might add of scaring them to death in the process. It seems they always have to reassure people by saying “Do not fear!” so they obviously aren’t the cute, fat baby-like cupid angels that we see on wedding invitations).

In a world where Satan wants to destroy Godly marriages because they are a picture of our relationship with Christ, is this your opportunity to pray that God would SEND AN ANGEL to protect you and that God would lead you to the right person to marry? Some people are just meant to be together.

Pastor Ross