You are not an accident or an afterthought. You were planned long before you came into existence. The entire Bible is the explanation of this beautiful obsession of God, the love for his children, that is undying and eternal. Let us explore.
Genesis 21: Delayed Blessings
Here in this chapter, we are back to to some joyful times. In Genesis 21 we see the birth of Isaac, Sarah’s joy. (1-8) But then there is the rivalry of Isaac and Ishmael. (9-13) This leads to the ejection of Hagar and Ishmael, and they are comforted by an angel in the wilderness. (14-21). We read further Abimelech’s covenant with Abraham. (22-34).
In Romans 8:19 we read that the “whole creation waits with eager longing.” We live in an instant gratification society. No matter young or old, everyone wants and have information at their fingertips. The word Google was the name of a company some years ago, but now it is a verb we all use. Google it! we say. Because the answer is right at your fingertip.
Our patience level these days for that simple reason is much lower than of our ancestors. We can not wait for things any longer. The deep longing we are talking about in the first paragraph is not the trait of modern society. If you do not answer your text or email right away, then there are hard feelings, fear of rejection, fight and the rest of the drama that follows.
With this backdrop of the modern world, let us look at Genesis 21 that takes us to the reality of how God works things out. Coping with God’s ways of doing things is just the opposite of the ways of the modern world. Everything, if it is left to God, will be a delayed blessing. Nothing is fast or furious for God. This is the message of this chapter. Sarah had to wait for a long time even after a child was promised to get the child. She waited until she got pretty old to conceive. She had to wonder if God was in the story at all. But she waited through her doubts.
Look at Abraham. He was not a spring chicken when his firstborn came about. He was 100 years old. If any of us can actually think straight at 100, I would call it a blessing beyond my imagination. I have met two people who made it to 101 and seemed like they carried some sense in them to that age. As for me, forget it, that I won’t have much sense left by then. So, it was a delayed blessing for Abraham just as much as it was for Sarah. It was a blessing in when it came in God’s own timing.
See how Hagar and Ishmael were treated. They were thrown out of their security and into the wilderness. But God was waiting for them in the wilderness. For Hagar to know God and experience God’s care, she needed to reach the wilderness. In the wilderness, Hagar had to move away from her own son, and limited vision, to see God’s hand at work with her child. God opens the spring of water and life for them once Hagar gave everything into the hands of God. God’s blessings may be delayed and nerve-wracking, but it always comes when needed.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. (Luke 2: 25) Simeon waited for a long time for the right time so that he could see Jesus brought into the temple. We see Jesus doing the same when he waits for the right time to raise Lazarus from the dead. He didn’t rush to raise him, instead waited for God’s time. Jesus asks His disciples to do the same. “Wait for the helper,” Jesus says, “I will send you the Holy Spirit.” Delayed blessings are real and I believe that’s how God does things. He rushes not!
So, in short, Genesis 21 speaks volumes about waiting for the delayed blessings. Delayed blessings of God in our lives is proof that God is with us. If you doubted whether God was ever with you in anything you are going through, remember Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Isaac, Ishmael, the disciples, Martha, Mary and Lazarus, and the list goes on and on. You are on the right track when things are not right in front of y
Genesis 19: Move From Blindness to Light!
There are two major stories contained in this chapter which we have heard many times over. First there is the story of The Destruction of Sodom and The Deliverance of Lot. (1-29) and secondly, The Sin and Disgrace of Lot. (30-38)
This chapter of Genesis is more known in the world for two words – Sodom and Gomorrah. The destruction of these two cities has historically been attributed to the lifestyle of the people of these locations. I do not want to disagree with the findings of other writers with regards to lifestyle but in my view, the lifestyle we are talking about here is not about homosexuality among the people of Sodom and Gomorrah as many preachers have said but rather it is about the inner blindness to see other people with dignity and respect.
Look at the different aspects of the story. See how the people of Sodom treated Lot, the Angels, and the daughters of Lot. Everything of this chapter speaks volumes of one’s attitude towards people around them.
For the people of Sodom, Lot was nothing but a foreigner without rights. He was belittled for being a man without the right to welcome guests into his own home or even to be a man with dignity. They questioned his moral judgment. They disregarded his pleas. They failed to believe his story and his request not to harm his own guests.
The people of the town were blind to the fact that these three men they didn’t know, the angels, were there for their pleasure. They made a mistake in assuming who the strangers were when they actually had no clue about the identity of their guests. They were blinded by their own self-grandeur. The people Sodom failed to welcome God’s angels.
We find the blindness of Lot’s wife to see the hand of God in everything that happened to them. Her curiosity got the better of her. Her fear got the better of her. Her need to control the outcome got her in trouble. She became a pillar of salt that had lost its saltiness. She became an immovable pillar in the middle of destruction and uncertainty.
The story doesn’t end there. The daughters of Lot continue the path of the blindness of their parents. When Lot was given a chance to choose, if you remember from the past, he chose for his own betterment and lost everything. When his wife was given a choice, she chose a path to her own destruction. When the daughters had a choice to make, they were blinded by their fear and lost respect for their father.
When we are blinded by our limited vision of life, we make mistakes too. When we are afraid, we follow the wrong path. We are caught in the middle of destruction and the future. We are blinded by our prejudices, our fears, and our self-grandeur. We can become like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, not because of sexual orientation, but pure self-righteousness and total spiritual blindness. We may become the same people who were destroyed by fire because we fail to respect the dignity of people we may or may not even know. Even though we are presented with daily invitations to respect the dignity of every human being, we are often blinded by our fear.
Solution #19: When one group of people attacks another, that nation falls into a place of spiritual blindness. When a person destroys another for any reason, a seed of self-destruction is planted in him or her. Spiritual blindness leads the people of this chapter to vile acts. It is not sexual acts that destroy another but the lack of respect for human dignity that leads to vile acts of any kind, sexual or asexual. It will do well for us to remember that where there is love, there is kindness, compassion, self-control, forgiveness, and mercy.
Genesis 16: Faith Is Born In Chaos!
For all my life I have heard that Abram is the father of faith. I know that’s because of what he did when he was asked to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. It is a great example of trust in God. I have said earlier that I don’t have that kind of faith. I wish I did.
However, when I reflected further, I wondered what happened to Abram and Sarai? God had promised them that He will multiply them and make them a great nation. His descendants will be like the stars in the sky. As smart and intelligent people, to know Sarai in her old age could get pregnant, was hard to believe. But then, why shouldn’t they trust God?
I believe they trusted God to do his part and keep His promise. As the days passed by, they must have been totally confused and afraid. As much as they wanted to trust God to keep the promise, they were not getting any younger to wait forever. Life was passing by and their strength to deal with life situations was diminishing.
I can only imagine the fear, sadness, humiliation and all the rest of the feelings Sarai must have gone through when she offered her servant girl to her husband. What was that for? Was it to help God to fulfill the promise? It was fear that things may not happen if they waited too long. Then there is the fear that they may not be able to conceive a child in their old age. All kinds of stressful moments crept in and made life total chaos, I am sure.
I always wondered if trusting in God is easy? I believe it might take us through a period of chaos especially if we try to help God? Can our idea of God’s plan lead us to do things that are crazy sometimes? Can God actually do things as God has promised, at least as we believe God has promised us in our prayer, without our help?
When I reflected more on these things I found the faith of Sarai and Abram was short just as much as ours. Genuine faith in God is prone to fail when we go through the chaos. Living in faith is living in chaos. Even when everything else seems to go against whatever we believe we can develop our trust in God. Chaos in life is ripe enough to give birth to the true faith.
Abram and Sarai were going through the temptation to help God figure things out, without waiting patiently for God to do things. God’s timing sometimes is hard to understand and sometimes completely not in sync with the human clock. Our clock is limited because we only have a few years to live and we measure everything accordingly, but God’s clock infinite. There is not a sure way of explaining what God has in mind and the timing of it. Trusting God is not easy for anyone just as it was not the case for the father and mother of faith, Abram and Sarai.
But God can still act and God can still come through. The human chaos in this stressful situation was not the end of it all for God’s friend. It was made into a new beginning again.
Faith cannot be packaged easily in a neat little box. It lives through the chaos of life and many times faith is emboldened because of chaos. We are all better for the chaos of life because it helps us to live humbly. It makes us people who are real and down to earth. Of course, that goes only for those who are willing to accept that they have chaos in their lives. It is comforting to know the father and the mother of faith, Abram and Sarai, had enough chaos in their lives to strengthen their resolve to listen to God regardless of them.
Genesis 14: Humility In Victory!
According to the scholars and from the reading of Genesis 14, we find this chapter is hanging out here without a real flow. It is not necessarily connected to any other part of the Bible specifically, other than giving some foundation for the story we heard before and after. In the earlier chapters and the ones following this, we find references to the life of Lot, the nephew of Abram.
However, when we go deeper into the study we will find, as always is the case, there is more to the story in each chapter. The one I want to focus today is found in verse 22 and thereafter, where we read of the God who created heaven and earth. There is an emphasis on the creator of the universe and all that exists and a person’s response to life when met with success and failure.
I find this is much more than about the God who is the creator of the world. This is about a God whose magnificent power extends beyond the creation of heaven and earth. God not only creates, which is affirmed in that verse but sustains. The power lies not just in creation, but it is greater in sustaining it. While these words say that we are not self-made, as some might assume in the modern world, it also says the power of life stands outside us and life is given to us.
In a world where we speak about who is the author of life, whether it is God or science or whether it is by chance or evolution, we have to believe in one principle that, in the end, life originated outside of us and it is given to us at some point as a gift. The whole chapter leads one to the fact that God is the creator of all and therefore God is the sustainer of all of life. Abram acknowledges it and gives thanks to God for it.
Abram defeated the king. As a victorious person, he had every right to possess the land, the people and everything else. The discourse between the king and Abram points to that fact. But Abram is clear of his future and what he wants in the end. It is not the possessions of the world and the land. It is following what God wants him to do. As we saw in the earlier chapter, Lot took what he thought was the best and fertile land, and Abram took what he was blessed with in the leftover. Abram trusts God again as before, and sure enough, we will see Abram’s journey is not over yet.
He wants nothing from the king because he has plenty from God. His focus is purely on what is given to him by God and everything else is not worth anything. When Abram swears by God that he wants nothing more than what he has been blessed with, he also is saying he is content with his portion.
So in the end, I want to invite you to reflect: Is what you have enough to be content with? What are you not satisfied with, in life and why not? Is God the God of your possessions, your life, and your future?
Acknowledge God as the creator and sustainer of your life. Be content with what you have. Give back what does not belong to you. Bless even when you are defeated. Build even when things fall apart. These are simple lessons and solutions to lead a happy and content life. Failure and loss is part of life, but living into them is like living in the past. Let bygones be bygones. Living into the future is what makes us children of the moment.
Genesis 13: Shrinking and Expanding Grace!
Life is Unique
While man has reasons for the things he does based on relational thinking and justifications, God always has the power to turn man’s actions around and use them to create a unique and perfect plan of his own. The scriptures often reveal how God uses the frailties of man to achieve his greater glory.
Abram returns from Egypt with all the wealth and security he would ever need. He and his people continue to grow in riches. Along with the unexpected and unimaginable wealth, the strife it created grew also. There came the very human need to protect what they had. Protecting hard earned money can cause relationship issues and problems among siblings. The families of Abram and his brother, Lot, were not spared this strife.
The blessing in a sacrifice
Like sensible people, Abram and Lot must come together to find a solution to their problem. Lot saw the fertile land in front of him and realized the great potential it held. Abram, suggested a solution by saying, “If you go left, I’ll go right; if you go right, I’ll go left.” He compromised by taking what was left by his brother. So, Lot takes what he feels is the better portion and Abram simply takes what Lot leaves behind. In order to have peace between brothers, one must be willing to make the necessary sacrifice.
The two brothers go their separate ways and both prosper. This is where the story gets more interesting because God’s plan never fails.
God never fails.
When we look to Abram’s future, we find that this seemingly insignificant sacrifice that he made by accepting what Lot did not want, becomes what is best for the future of his people. God never fails in his promises. God can and will turn everything into the best for those who are willing to humble themselves and build others up.
Why build up the other
This whole 13th chapter of Genesis is about Abrams willingness to put his brother before himself. It shows that his self-sacrificing nature paid off in the end when God, as always, keeps His promise to His people. Lot got what he wanted but God blessed Abram with much more. The two Transjordanian kingdoms of the progeny of Lot are smaller and more insignificant than the larger and greater future nation of Israel.
When we make sacrifices and do the right thing in life, we sometimes feel like we have been taken advantage of by the other. Sometimes self-sacrifice to build the other might feel senseless and even painful. Loss of wealth and security might also feel like a lot to take in especially when those who have taken advantage of you seem to prosper. One thing I have learned in life through this story and many others, God is a God of justice and not convenience, a God of who knows both the beginnings and the ends. Things will turn around when God is in control of life if only we can live without anxiety. Build up your neighbor, brother, sister, family, friends and in turn, I promise what might look like a lot, will turn into the best. For God knows the progeny of a selfish man only ends up shrinking and the sacrifice of the righteous will always prosper.
Genesis 12: Bless To Grow In Faith!
Becoming a global village
We live in a world where people move from one place to another easily. We have become a global village. For that reason, we find ourselves living among people of different ethnic, language, religious and cultural differences than our own. If we can learn three major languages in the world, English, Spanish, and Chinese, it is possible to move into any part of the world and with a little hard work, make a home for yourself…
Abram started it
For Abram when he was asked to leave his land, his world, his security, and his future, that was not the case. There was nothing easy about it. To trust his instincts and move to another world believing a dream, a vision, a voice in his head, all of which sounds like a fool’s errand was anything but easy. But he trusted that God would keep his word. He trusted that when he left his home, a new world would open up before him. He believed when one door closes, another will be open.
Trusted God’s Promises to do it
The story of faith is the story of trusting in the consistency of God’s promises. Even when we do not see any way forward, we trust that God is going to keep His word to the end. Biblical history is full of promises fulfilled. When Abram trusted that God had a plan even when everything in him said…”This is senseless to take my son to the top of the mountain and sacrifice him”, he went forward with his conviction. In my so-called enlightened mind of today, I think, “what was he thinking? What kind of a God was asking someone to kill their son or daughter?” I don’t understand it. But then, I believe in the story of Salvation through Christ and that’s exactly the story of Jesus. A Son is sacrificed. It remains a mystery for me. I will never be able to trust God enough to sacrifice my child, but Abram does and thus becomes the Father of Faith. To get there, he had to learn about the consistency of God’s actions.
God’s Consistency shows it
God’s plan of Salvation is consistent. When God promises the land, he delivers. (Exo 33: 1) When God promises a prophet, he sends one. (Deut 18: 15) When God promises a good name and fame, God sets the stage for you to get it. (Psalm 72: 17) He promises admiration of those who follow God’s will and makes sure it happens. (Jer 4: 2) He invites everyone to become good-news people because God will come to their rescue in the end and bless their days. (Zeh 8: 12)
He Learned From God’s Actions
Abraham passed through lands that were not his own. He came unscathed through the lands of the enemies as if their friend. Because what prompted him to trust God was a deep conviction, God was walking with him through the dark nights of life. God kept his promises to Abram, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and all of God’s people.
What are we to do to be like Abram and turn into Abraham, the man who trusted God’s promptings within? How shall we do what is impossible in the midst of never-ending doubts, fears, anxieties, and uncertainties? Take the lesson from Abram and bless the world around you. Bless the people, the nations, the enemies and the lands we cross every day. Some might look like enemies and others like friends. But in the end, we have to cross through all the barriers and boundaries, blessing them rather than cursing them. The Salvation of God is brought about by blessing the land we pass through every day.
The Solution #12:
Bless the world around you in any way possible. The key thought, “Bless” and God will continue to keep His wor