Encouragement from Genesis

abe

I recently reread the book of Genesis with several teenagers from the church. While discussing it, the most common thing the students brought up was all the weird and terrible things the main characters kept doing:

  • Abraham lies about his wife being his sister, and she is almost swept into Pharaoh’s harem
  • Lot, while inebriated, impregnates both of his daughters
  • Judah sleeps with (who he assumes is) a prostitute, then tries to have her executed
  • Jacob deceives his father to steal from his brother, then spends twenty years running from God
  • Isaac, like his father, practically sells his wife into an enemy king’s harem to save his own skin

And that’s not the half of it! From cowardice and theft to sexual deviance and murder, they were guilty of it all.

But here’s the beautiful thing… God still blesses them!

Despite their sin, despite their selfishness, despite it all, they are still God’s people.

Why?

Because God made a promise. God promised some idol worshipper named Abram that if he forsook his previous life and followed after the one true God, that God would bless Abram and all his descendants after him (Genesis 12:1-3). And Abram, while certainly not perfect, followed God (Genesis 12:4). Abram, though he occasionally faltered, believed what God had said (Genesis 15:6). And God kept His promise.

And an entire family, an entire people, an entire nation was blessed because of it.

And the Lord said, “I will be with you and bless you. And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven. And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed My voice.” (Genesis 26:2-5)

There are two lessons to learn from this:

  1. You are blessed because God made a promise.

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably not perfect. You make mistakes. You slip up. But guess what? In spite of all that, God will still bless you. Why? Because of someone else’s faithfulness.

If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:29)

  1. The choices you make will bless your family for generations to come.

Over four thousand years ago, some guy in the desert listened to God, and God blessed him. His wife didn’t always listen to God, but God blessed her because anyway. His kids didn’t usually listen to God, but God blessed them anyway. His nephew didn’t listen to God, but God blessed them anyway. His grandkids and great-grandkids ran from God and disobeyed Him, but God blessed them anyway. And four thousand years later, a world that largely ignores God is still being blessed by Him. All because of a promise God made:

In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. (Genesis 12:3)

Your obedience affects those around you. Your faithfulness will transcend your short time on earth. So don’t just live for yourself. Live for your family. Live for your community. Live for the generations that are yet to come. They are counting on you.

Important Lessons My Son Has Taught Me about God

jack13:16 am. The family is finally asleep. But of course, that’s not gonna last long.

3:19 am. Jack’s cries fill our bedroom.

Maybe he’s hungry. We try feeding, but he doesn’t bite. Jack continues to cry.

Maybe he’s in dire need of a diaper change. We check, but the diaper is clean. Jack continues to cry.

Maybe he’s cold. We give him a blanket. Jack continues to cry.

Maybe he’s warm. We strip off the onesie. Jack continues to cry.

I know. He just needs some bro time. I take him downstairs, and walk through our darkened kitchen with him gently cradled in my arms.

Jack calms down.

For about seventeen seconds.

Then he continues to cry.

And as I continue to pace back and forth with our crying infant in my arms, I think to myself, “If only he knew how to articulate what he needed, then I could give it to him.”

And right as that thought came to mind, God said to me, “That’s why most prayers don’t get answered.”

Christians are really good at crying. Experts, in fact. “Why does this always happen to me?” “Why do things never work out in my life?” “Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?”

We are very good at vocalizing how terrible things are. We are also fairly decent at (erroneously) attributing all of our woes and troubles to God. But I’d venture to guess that 9 times out of 10, we never actually ask for a solution. We just whine about whatever is going on, then blame God when things don’t get better.

For example, if you feel a fever coming on, complaining about how you always get sick isn’t praying. Accepting the sickness because “God works in mysterious ways” also isn’t praying. Even silently hoping that you miraculously get better isn’t praying. To make it a prayer, you need to verbally ask God to heal you. Confessing a scripture or two that promises to give you what you need is an absolute plus (in the case of sickness, Isaiah 53:5, Exodus 15:26, Luke 9:11, 1 Peter 2:24, and James 5:15 are just a few). Then you need to sincerely believe that God will deliver. And to finish it off, promptly praise God for His goodness and mercy and love.

That’s the prayer of faith.

My son Jack couldn’t tell me what was wrong because he doesn’t speak the English language. He’s just a baby. And most Christians are unsuccessful in prayer because they don’t speak the language of faith. They are spiritual babies. Now Jack will naturally grow up as time progresses. But Christian growth isn’t automatic. It takes deliberate and intentional action. And unfortunately, most people are unwilling to put in the time.

The language of faith is simple:

  1. Ask God for what you need (Matthew 7:7, Romans 10:9)
  2. Continually confess a scripture that promises you what you need (Joshua 1:8)
  3. Believe that you receive (Mark 11:23, Romans 10:9)
  4. Thank God for always meeting your needs (Philippians 4:6, Acts 16:25)

So stop complaining, stand on the Word, and have faith in God.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

(Like what you read? Follow me on facebook for updates.)

Two Important Lessons on Faith You Missed from My Last Blog

Jesus(Read My Last Blog Post)

Jesus was unable to do “mighty works” for the people of Galilee due to their unbelief.  The people had hardened their hearts toward the notion of a miracle-working God, and they received exactly what they believed they would.

Nothing.

But here’s the silver lining most of us miss when considering this passage.

“Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.” (Mark 6:5)

Even in the midst of their marvelous unbelief, Jesus was still able to heal a few of ‘em.  I don’t know how much a few is.  I’d say at least three, but we’d all agree that the bare minimum would be two.  I also don’t know what sorts of ailments he cured that morning.  Decide for yourselves if it was a common cold, a broken wrist, or a sprained ankle.  It hardly matters what He healed.  The point is that He did it.  Even when faced with mockery and detestation, God’s goodness still was present!

I also like that healing only three or so people of mild illnesses isn’t considered that big of a deal.  For most churches, that’d be a great year, but for Jesus, it was kind of a letdown.

There are two lessons we can glean from this story.

1. Even in churches with obscene amounts of unbelief, God can still show up.  If you’re willing to trust God, you can bring God’s kingdom wherever you go, and you can at least lay hands on a few sick people and heal them.

2. Don’t settle for less than what’s available.  The bible says that when only a handful of people are healed, it’s hardly worth mentioning.  God has so much more in store for those who have the audacity to trust in Him.

Don’t allow the unbelief of a few to slow you down.  Go out into the world and do the greater works Jesus has called you to do!

(Read My Last Blog Post – or – Follow me on fb.)