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Archive for the ‘Genesis Snippets’ Category

Open Hands

”Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are . . . for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever.” Genesis 13:14

God gave the land of Canaan to Abraham and his descendants. He’d already told Abraham this. When strife arose between Abraham’s herdsmen and Lot’s herdsmen, Abraham could have told Lot that the land belonged to him, and Lot had to be the one to leave if there was a problem. Instead, Abraham gave Lot first pick. And Lot chose the best for himself. There is no evidence that Abraham resented Lot for his choice. In fact, we learn a short time later that he risked his life and the lives of his men to go and rescue Lot. After Lot left the Lord once again reiterated His promise to give all the land to Abraham. Abraham was willing to give it up. The Lord said no, he didn’t have to.

A dear friend of ours tells a story of the time he received some unexpected money. It was a sizable amount, and he was a perpetually broke college student at the time. But he was also a student committed to serving the Lord wholeheartedly. He took some paper, tore it up into little bits, and wrote different dollar amounts on them. He put them in a bowl and told the Lord whichever paper he pulled out, that was the amount he would give, even if he pulled out the paper that had the entire amount on it. He reached in and pulled out a paper. It said one dollar. He went to a godly friend of his and told him what had happened, thinking surely the Lord wanted him to give more than a dollar. The friend told him to go home and draw from the bowl again. So he did. He went home, stirred up the bowl, and pulled a paper out. Yep, you guessed it. One dollar. He gave the Lord the dollar.

Open hands. When God asks a sacrifice of us, open hands make the process much less painful. But remember, sometimes God sees our open hands and pours His blessings into them.

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“Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I will give this land.’” Genesis 12:7a

When Abraham was given this promise, he didn’t have any visible evidence that such a thing was possible. To his descendants? His wife was barren. He didn’t have any descendants. God would give the land? The land was already occupied. He moved from one borrowed place to another. But what did he do when God gave him this promise? He built an altar. He worshipped. Sure, he would go on to make mistakes, some of them pretty significant. But forever more, faith and the name of Abraham would be linked.

Chances are none of us will be called to do something on the scale of what Abraham had to do. Still, sometimes we need to follow a call even when we don’t have the facts. I waited at a stoplight, lifting my eyes to a nursing home on the hill above it. As I looked at it, I knew I needed to go in there and see if anyone needed visiting. A few days later, I met Virginia. I knew as soon as I walked into her room that she was the one I was there for. For about a year, I visited weekly. Twice, once in person and once in a letter, I shared the gospel with her. For Easter, I gave her a little book that also presented the gospel. As far as I know, she died without ever coming to Christ. To this day, I still don’t know why God called me to visit her. But call me He did, I have no doubt. He knew why.

We don’t need all the facts before we can obey. We only need faith in the God who has all the facts, whether He chooses to share them or not.

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“Let us make a name for ourselves” Genesis 11:4b

I am a writer, by passion if not by trade. I’d like to be one by trade. At first, I told myself that it didn’t matter, that I’d keep writing even if I never get published. The second part is true. Writing is part of who I am. But I had to admit that I do want to get published. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to be published. I think it’s a noble and worthy goal. But the question is, who am I writing for? What am I writing for? Do I want to get published so I can make a name for myself? Or do I want to get published so others can hopefully draw closer to God through my words. I told God, the first time I sent off a query letter, that I only want to be published if it’s His will, to bring Him glory. That’s why the rejection letters don’t hurt so much.

I think many times it’s not what we do that’s the problem, it’s why we do it. I don’t think it was building the city with the tall tower per se that was the problem. It was why they did it. They didn’t want to spread out over the earth, as God commanded. It sounded to me like they thought if they banded together, building a tower that reached into heaven itself, they could beat God at His own game. They’d be the ones calling the shots. It would be their name above everything, not His. How foolish. And yet, how many times are we guilty of the same sentiment, if not the same expression of it. How many times do we take the glory that is God’s alone and ascribe it to ourselves.

Oh how I pray that I always do what I do for the glory of His name, not mine.

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“Then God remembered Noah” Genesis 8:1a

The storm raged, the waters rose, everything they knew was gone. I wonder if in the confines of that ark, it felt like God had forgotten them. Did they spend day after day looking for some sign that He knew where they were and what they were going through? Did the trial of that never-to-be-repeated flood shadow what they knew of God’s promises? I couldn’t blame them if they doubted. They probably did better than I would have.

I’ve felt forgotten by God before. I went through a lot of incredibly difficult years. I struggled until I felt like I wasn’t going to last another day. Did God know? Did He care? I remember the day everything changed. Not in my circumstances, mind you, but in my view of God in the midst of the trial. I ducked into a quiet spot, desperate for just a moment’s relief. “I just can’t do it anymore, Lord,” I silently cried. “I can’t hold on anymore. I don’t have the strength. It’s just too much.” Immediately, an image came to mind. A child in the arms of her father. No matter how hard that child held on, it was the strength of the father that kept her there. If she clung to him until her strength ran out and then let go, she still wouldn’t fall to the ground because it never depended on her strength. In that moment, I knew God hadn’t forgotten me. He knew exactly where I was. Things didn’t change that day. In fact, they continued to get worse. But I never again doubted that I was in the arms of my loving Father, and that when I just didn’t have the strength to hold on to Him, He was still holding on to me.

In the arms of a loving Father. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think there’s any better place to be. Especially when the storm is raging.

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“Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did.” Genesis 6:22

My daughter and I were driving along in the car one day, many years ago. After a long silence she asked, “Mama, if the rapture happens while we’re in the car, will Jesus be able to get us out without hitting our heads?” Oh, the sweet innocence of a child! She didn’t sit and contemplate all the reasons why it would be impossible for God to actually snatch all of His people off the earth. I told her this will one day happen, and she believed me. I’m happy to report that, now an adult, she still believes it, although I’m pretty sure she’s no longer worried about hitting her head on the roof of the car.

What God told Noah must have seemed impossible too. Build an ark? We have no indication that at this point in history mankind had begun to travel on the water. God would destroy the earth with a flood caused, at least in part, by rain? We also have no indication that rain had ever fallen. The same attitude largely prevails today. We obviously know what rain is now, but you hear plenty of other arguments against the possibility of a worldwide flood. It’s impossible for enough water to cover the earth high enough to cover the tallest mountains, Noah couldn’t have fit all the animals into the ark, let alone all the food necessary to feed them, the list goes on. Impossible. Didn’t happen. Only fools believe that it did. But God said it, and Noah believed Him. God tells us in His word that it did indeed happen, and we believe Him. Just like God tells us that through the sacrifice of one Man, His beloved Son, Jesus, we can find salvation. Just like He tells us that someday, Jesus will come back again to get us. He said it, and that settles it. Time vindicated Noah’s faith. Time will also vindicate ours.

In the meantime, let us stand up, let the world call us a fool, and take God at His word.

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“Then men began to call on the name of the Lord” Genesis 4:26b

My husband started an evening class tonight. It would have been silly for him to come home from downtown Seattle only to turn around and head back down less than an hour later. So, he shifted his work day. I got to keep him home a little later this morning, but I won’t see him again until I pick him up after class. I’m used to having him home by around five o’clock. By five-thirty, I was feeling pretty lonely. I thought, ‘well, class doesn’t start until six, he’s probably working quietly in his office, I’ll give him a call.’ I should have known the second he said hello that my assumption was wrong. He had that ‘business-mode’ tone of voice. Turns out he went down to the class a little early, and he wasn’t the only one. The conversation was, shall we say, very short. He wasn’t rude, he wasn’t angry, he was just busy.

Isn’t it wonderful to know that God is never busy? We can call on Him whenever we need Him. Whether a major crisis, like when the doctors told me my husband was having a heart attack, to the little things, like feeling lonely because my husband didn’t have time to talk to me, He’s always there and always ready to listen. The second we call out to Him, He responds. It can be a long conversation, a simple cry of help, or sometimes no words at all. What a thrill of joy to remember that God not only lets me call out to Him, He actually wants me to! He wants me to share every bit of myself with Him, whether I’m happy or sad, at peace or in turmoil. And because He’s God, He can have that level of intimacy with all of His children. We never have to wait our turn.

People, even wonderful people, don’t always have time for us. God always does.

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The Who of God

“The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Genesis 2:9b

Why did God put the tree of the knowledge in the garden when He knew what Eve, and then Adam, would do? Why did He create Lucifer when He knew the havoc that would result from his downfall? For that matter, why did He even create us, when He knew the price He would have to pay for our sin? The answer, for me anyway, is I don’t know. There have been a lot of questions in my life with the same answer. Sometimes, God shows me the answer in time. Some of the questions, however, I believe won’t be answered until I’m on the other side of the curtain (if I still want to know at that point). But the more I walk with the Lord, the less the ‘I don’t knows’ bother me.

When I can’t figure out the what, I’ve learned to trust in the who. What I mean is this. Sometimes, we don’t understand what God has done or allowed to happen. In those times, we need to trust who we know Him to be. My husband lay on a hospital bed, wires going every which way to the various machines attached to him, while the doctor told me he was having a heart attack. I walked in the door a wife. I could have easily walked out a widow. In that moment, not later after I knew he would be OK, I knew that God loved me, He loved my husband, and He was absolutely trustworthy to get me through anything He allowed to happen. I didn’t know why the man I loved was in that hospital bed, but I knew the God who was holding us both while he was there. It was enough.

Sometimes God won’t tell us why, but His Word clearly tells us who He is. That is the one thing we can hold on to when nothing else makes sense.

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