Genesis 25-26

These chapters demonstrate the LORD’s favor being with Isaac as it was with Abraham. Although they don’t seem to have the same dynamic friendship, Isaac is reaping the benefits of the Promise made to his father. 

The story of Jacob and Esau and the soup is central. Jacob understood the importance of being the recipient of this family favor, whereas Esau proved to be near sighted. In a moment of crisis, he panicked and exchanged eternal divine provisions for an earthly quick fix. Maybe Jacob had picked up on this attitude of his brother and looked for an opportunity to exploit it. 

How often I toss aside the presence of God, His promises and statutes, for a panicked quick fix. Then  I  write it off as “not a big deal”. Here it’s presented as a very big deal. 

The sweetest fellowship I experience with the Lord, is when I’m fully surrendered and focused on Him, sins confessed and humility engaged, full of His love and thankful for His beautiful nearness. When I flip out and rush for food or random comforts, I simultaneously stiff arm He who can catch me as I’m falling.

Jacob may have been a decietful little stinker, but he got this one thing right: He knew God’s presence would be the ultimate investment. 

Let’s pause today, to thank God for His presence. Identify the earthly comforts we run to and ask Him for a game plan for running toward Him instead.

-Bethany

Genesis 23-24

Abraham was in a foreign land, looking for a place to bury his wife. If you’ve ever planned a funeral, you know what it feels like to piece together logistics during an incredibly emotional and heavy time. In Abraham’s time, there was a lot of tradition and ritual that went with mourning. My commentary notes that an improper burial was the equivalent of a curse.

Abraham’s reputation goes before him and the Hittites offer up one of their finest tombs for Sarah to be buried in. I love what this means:

Our reputation matters.  No, we’re not all Abraham. But still, as image bearers of Christ, what people think of us catches up to us. If you regularly attend church, you are also representing your community.

God is with us in the dark times. The Bible is soaked with stories of God being near to the broken-hearted. I love the way he provides for Abraham here when he’s grieving his beloved wife. I love the closure he has and the way God is near to him so tangibly.

What’s your reputation? What do strangers know about you?

Think of a time God has been near to you and provided for your needs in a dark time and give thanks.

 

-Carly

 

 

Genesis 21-22

“Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what He had promised.”

These two chapters feel way too big for one post and I’m about to board a plane, so I’ll do my best to summarize my thoughts before take off.
Hagar is considered the mother of Arabian nations. God took care of her and promised to make Ishmael great. He has kept His promises! The spring where God met her is a holy site for Muslims. 

Meanwhile, the site where Abraham almost sacrificed Isaac, is the mountain Jerusalem would later be built on. This story foreshadows Jesus’ death, as the substitute sacrifice, on that same mountain 2000+ years later. 

I told you Genesis was the story of us all! This is the beginning, and historians lean on this book more than any other resource. 

God is true to His promises and He has preserved mankind, and specifically the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael, over 4000 years. There is nothing He cannot do and He is our True Father, who took His only Son and sacrificed Him so we all could live. 

Praise you, Jesus! Praise you, LORD! You have seen everything from beginning to end and You are faithful to complete everything you start. 

I hope you guys don’t have to rush though this. What has God shown you, recently, concerning His love and faithfulness?

-Bethany 

Genesis 19-20

So much scandal and sexual sin packed into two chapters! When referenced these days, Sodom and Gomorrah have become synonyms for despicable sin. If you didn’t read today’s chapters, I’d recommend doing so before diving into this post.

It might seem insane to us that Lot and his wife hesitate on taking up the angels on their escape plan. A group of aggressive perverts are breaking down their door, trying to rape their guests and they need to be physically dragged away from the situation. Isn’t that insane? Yet really relatable? This morning I’m thinking back on toxic situations I’ve been in, where I resisted the escape plans, but God showed me mercy by ushering me away from them. 
Something else that I noticed this morning was the irony of Lot’s daughters. His virgin daughters get him drunk and rape him (two nights in a row, by the way) out of their desperate desire to get what they thought they must have. Earlier in the narrative, Lot had offered up his daughter’s virginity in a horrific scene. Notice that? They sin in the same way they were sinned against. This story, however extreme, is prompting me to think about the ways I’ve been sinned against and how I might be replicating it towards other people.

2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come.” 

Paul reminds us in this verse from the New Testament that we become a new creation through Christ. A beautiful result of the gospel. 

Do you count yourself as a new creation? Or do you feel more like a product of your environment, looking over your shoulder at what you’re leaving behind? 
Our thoughts, conversations and dwellings of our past matter. They can propel us forward, remind us of what God has done, highlight his grace and mercy, or they can dissolve us.
-Carly

Genesis 17-18

“You will be the father of a multitude of nations.” (17:4)

God’s promises never fail to move entirely outside our own ability to accomplish them. 

Abraham, in his own strength, could only hope to “make a nation” of Ishmael. Best case scenario, Ishmael flourishes his family for enough generations to become a people group large enough to be deemed a nation. Even this would be difficult without divine intervention in an age where kings warred and wiped out family clans on the regular.

But no, God promised Abraham a son from his own, near dead body and the post-menopause womb of his wife. This miracle son would only be the beginning of a string of impossible, yet kept, promises. Against all odds, and numerous genocide attempts, the nation of Israel has endured for almost 4000 years. 

“Is anything too difficult for the LORD?” (18:14)

Still, that’s only one nation and the LORD promised a multitude. Through the finished work of Jesus Christ, and by faith in Him, we have become sons of Abraham. I am a daughter of that promise. If you have faith in Christ, you also are part of this family. This international, 100+ nation family.

What promises are you still trying to accomplish on your own strength?

In 9 days I will be in Greece, partnering with churches working in refugee camps. It’s a terrible burden to bear if I let myself think positive changes in these people’s lives will come through my, and my teams efforts, alone. It was an act of God to move us into this position and it will take many more acts of God to use us in His redemption of this horrible crisis. 

He has named me Bethany Rae, which is so very tied to this promise. The name Bethany, alone, means “house of poverty and affliction”. My dad says my middle name, Rae, is for the light I bring into affliction. 

Jesus had dear friends in the town of Bethany. It’s where Lazarus, Mary and Martha lived. Three poor, sibling orphans, one who once was dead, and another who had turned to prostitution. Jesus brought all three to life, in many ways, and it was the place He decided to spend his finally day before heading for the cross. Mary anointed Him with expensive perfume there. Bethany became a place of resurrection life, extravagant love and sweet friendship with God. 

This summer, before I had decided to go anywhere, God reminded me of this name. He has taken all my low income woes, broken cars, near death encounters and chronic pains, due to uneven legs (which could feel like my own house of poverty and affliction), and brought His resurrection light. HE has made me a place of resurrection life, extravagant love and sweet friendship with God. That is what I can invite people into. 

He, who took two old farts and created an innumerable international family, took me and did the impossible. I cannot underestimate His ability to fulfill even the craziest promise.

God can do ANYTHING through you. What has He named you? What promise are you trying to fulfill on your own strength? Ask Him. Ask Him for a new name, and let’s praise Him for His beauty birthed from our ashes.

-Bethany 

Genesis 15-16

“And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord declared him righteous because of his faith.” 15:6

This is what God asks of us: to believe what he says. God promised Abram that he would have too many descendants to count. This man is old in age, without any children. He has no Bible to read, no stories to reference of God fulfilling his promises. This is faith. Believing and trusting when the proof isn’t there.

Later in the chapter we see how it plays out when there’s a lack of faith, and Abram’s wife takes matters in to her own hands. Discontentment takes root, bitterness spreads and relationships are severed.

Think of a time in your life you tried to interfere with God’s plan. What happened?

Unfortunately, God doesn’t always take us for an evening stroll and lay out the specifics of our future like he did with Abram. But we do have the Bible. Pages of his promises to trust him, that he has a plan for our life, that he ties all things together for good and that he is with us. 

My sister started a non-profit about thirteen years ago. She wanted to help the children she knew in the slums of Kenya get out of poverty. For the first few years of fundraising, some people tried to talk her out of it. There were plenty of other organizations she could partner up with, and then she could get started right away. But she waited. She felt that God had placed this on her plate and would bring it to completion, in his own timing. Ten years later, because of God’s grace and a beautiful community of supporters, the first orphaned child was brought into the house, built on the land the organization purchased in full. Now ten formally-orphaned kids live there and they are wrapping up construction on a second home on the land. This story isn’t just a testimony of patience, stead-fastness and faith. It’s also a beautiful illustration of how God writes our stories. The kids that live in the home right now weren’t even born when she started all this. Yet God was already orchestrating a plan to rescue them. He knew exactly when the doors of Visible Grace would open and what children would be sleeping in those beds, before they even existed.

No matter what you’re waiting for, whether it’s a job, an answer, a relationship or a cure, be faithful. God’s timing is perfect, beautiful and set before us long ago.

 

-Carly

 

 

 

 

Genesis 13-14

God was with Abram. This war is a lot of names and places to sort through. Allow me to summarize:

5 Kings lived in this lush valley, but always had to pay taxes to a Mesopotamian king, Chedorlaomer, so they rebelled. King Chedorlaomer brought 3 kings with him from his northern region and put the 5 Kings in their place, looting, grabbing people, chasing the warriors into tar pits. The 4 Kings won against the 5. The situation seemed hopeless and maybe no one would have cared, if it weren’t for the fact they had carried off Abram’s nephew, Lot.

Abram hears Lot has been captured and rallies 318 of his own guys to go get him. This fierce coalition of 4 kings that just defeated 5, could not withstand Abram and his 318 guys. He defeats them, takes all their loot and heads home. The Kings of the valley are stoked and want him to keep the loot, but he’s like, “No, God makes me rich, not you. Keep it.” And he tithes to Melchizedek, High Priest of God Most High. 

God had just promised the give the land to Abram for the rest of time (13:15). He operated out of a trusting security. “God makes me rich, not you.”

The sense of security is always proportional to trust. Abram knew very little about this God who had recently come along and promised him things. He had made mistakes concerning his wife, and would again, but when it came to possessions, he felt secure. 

What areas of your life are marked by trust and security? Thank God for those things! What areas are defined by anxiety and insecurity? Bring them before the Lord and ask Him what it would mean to surrender.

-Bethany