Archives for category: Abraham

5Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear,” (Matthew 24:35, NLT).

Have you ever felt forgotten about—overlooked?  Sometimes, it’s so easy to feel as if God has answered everyone else’s prayers but yours.  You’ve pray.  You’ve fasted.  You’ve done everything you know how to do, but there seems to be no avail to your situation.  In some cases, you’ve been waiting so long for an answer that you have almost forgotten the question.  You have even begun to wonder whether God will keep His promises to you.

Numbers 23:19, says, “God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through,” (NLT)?

In both of the above-referenced passages, the Bible reiterates the fact that God is not a liar.  In fact, oftentimes, in Scripture, we see God go after those who attempt to turn Him into one.

God’s promises in our lives aren’t simply confined by time.  Those promises can often surpass our existence.  Just look at Abraham.  God promised to make him into a great nation—a promise that continues to this very day.    Throughout the Bible, we see countless examples of God’s promises to the Israelites and illustrations of His faithfulness.  In fact, God has been vigilant about going up against individuals who try to thwart His plans.  God will always avenge his people when there is an eminent threat against his promise.  Just ask Saul.

After a period of judges, the people of Israel demanded a king to rule over their affairs. Saul had found favor with the Lord, and he was anointed as King by the prophet Samuel.  However, Saul’s reign was cut short by disobedience, and possibly pride, but, that’s another story.

1One day Samuel said to Saul, ‘It was the Lord who told me to anoint you as king of his people, Israel. Now listen to this message from the Lord! 2This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has declared: I have decided to settle accounts with the nation of Amalek for opposing Israel when they came from Egypt. 3Now go and completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation—men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys,’ (1 Samuel 15:1-3, NLT).

Unfortunately, Saul was disobedient.  Not only did he spare the Amalekite king, he and his men also took plunder from their victory.  This angered God, and in his anger, God renounced Saul as king.  At first glance, one might wonder what was the big deal.  Saul made a stupid mistake for which he was truly sorry (1 Samuel 15:10-31).  But it was more than a simple mistake.  We have to remember that God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8).  There was more at stake than simply carrying out an assignment.  The Amalekites had inadvertently attempted to make God a liar.  When they challenged the Israelites, they didn’t realize that they were going after God’s Word.  John 1:1 say, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” (NIV).  You see, when the Amalekites went after God’s word, His promise, they went up against God Himself.  God had to defend His Word.  He had to defend Himself against character assassination.  Therefore, He had to avenged the Israelites.  Friend, whenever God has made a promise in our lives, we must take confidence that His character will make Him keep His promise, not for our sake, but for His.  God’s Word MUST prove true.  Hence, He will annihilate all threats to His word.  Think about this.  There was such a large period of time that had elapsed between when the Israelites left Egypt and when Saul took reign, yet God still remembered His promises to the Israelites.  We should take confidence in this.  We should also take heed.   God will avenge those whose promises have been threatened by another.  With that said, I think about the verse in Mark 9:42, “But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone hung around your neck,” (NLT).  Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him,” (NIV).  I wonder what is the fate of those who hinders someone else faith and cause them to doubt God?  This is a sobering thought.  It’s no wonder that when Jesus went on the cross he said, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,” (Luke 23:34, NIV). If many of us knew exactly what we were doing, we probably wouldn’t do some of the thing we have done.  But thank God for grace.  Tonight, we should remain confident of this:  God’s will be done.  We pray that God forgives those, including ourselves, who go up against God’s will, for we truly do not know what we are doing when we do so.  God, tonight, I pray for the broken and the forgotten that you will remember them!

In the simplest of terms, a covenant is an agreement, a contract or a bond between parties—a binding promise.  When a covenant is called into effect, there is an expectation that the agreed upon terms will be enforced.  In our legal system, most people go into covenants with the assurance that the legal system will enforce the terms and conditions of the agreement.  However, while the law can often guarantee that all parties will abide by the term of the covenant, a level of trust is still required between the parties.  Most people do not enter into covenants with people whom they know to be unscrupulous.  Most legal covenants are often measures that reasonable people establish to safeguard themselves against unforeseen events.  Again, most people enter covenants with the assumption that the opposing party has a certain amount of integrity.  This brings me to the point of this blog: God’s covenants.

 

Number 23:19 says, God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill,” (NIV)?  This passage indirectly speaks to the Abrahamic Covenant where God promised Abraham that he would bless the Israelites and Abraham’s family line.  In Number 23, Balak wanted Balaam to curse the Israelites, but Balaam replied with, “‘I have received a command to bless; he has blessed, and I cannot change it,’”(v. 20, NIV).

 

God cannot and will not change His mind.  He is in covenant with His people.  Number 23:19, not only speaks to the nature of God, but it is also a covenant in and of itself.  God is saying that his Word is bond.  Once he has said it, it is done.  Below is an exercise that I challenge all of us to do.

 

Covenant Agreement Between God and me

This Agreement made this __________ day of ____________20______ by and between _______________ and God.

 

Standing on the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant, I am believing God for:

  1. _______________________
  2. _______________________
  3. _______________________
  4. _______________________

 

The Bible verses that I rest my beliefs on are:

  1. _______________________
  2. _______________________
  3. _______________________
  4. _______________________

 

This agreement encourages us to remind God what He has promised.  With that said, we should also remember that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8).  There will be times that our prayers go unanswered for reasons we cannot understand, but we should go into agreement with God knowing that He has heard our petitions and that He will answer; and if the answer is not what we expect, it is what God intended because He has deliberate acted.  Below are a just a few examples of how God acted on behalf of his people’s prayers.

 

Prayer for healing:

  • Hezekiah was on the brink of death and cried out to God to spare his life.
    • “‘Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life,’” (Isaiah 38:5, NIV).

 

Praying for a Godly partner:

Abraham, though his servant, prayed that God would find a specific wife for Isaac.  God led Abraham’s servant to Rebekah.  Isaac and Rebekah were later married (Genesis 24: 1-67).

 

Praying to have children:

Isaac pleaded with the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was unable to have children. The LORD answered Isaac’s prayer, and Rebekah became pregnant with twins,” (Genesis 25:21, NLT).

 

Released from jail:

“But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out,” (Acts 5:19).

 

Financial breakthrough:

“The blessing of the LORD makes a person rich, and he adds no sorrow with it,” (Proverbs 10:22, NLT).

 

Spiritual breakthrough:

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds,” (2 Corinthians 10:4, NIV).

 

Fulfillment of God’s promise:

  • God had given Joseph a dream that he would become a mighty man. However, over the course of time, he was kidnapped, sold into slavery, accused of rape, imprisoned and forgotten.  Fortunately, God did not forget about him or the promise that he made to him.

 

  • 38 And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” 39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. 40 You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you,” (Genesis 41:38-40, ESV).

 

Today, I pray that you remember the covenant agreement that God has made with you and with Abraham.  Stand on His Word as you pray for His favor!

love

Welcome 2016.  Here’s to the “Year of Love!”

 

For some, 2015 was a tumultuous year, perhaps it could even be called a year of many changes.  According to Biblical numerology, the number fifteen is the number of rest.  Some sources say that 15 is also the number of new direction.  Below are some of the Biblical references associated with the number 15:

  • The Great Flood:
    • Genesis 7:7 (the 15th time Noah was mentioned in the Bible)
    • “And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood,” (KJV).
  • Abram first enters Egypt:
    • Genesis 12:14 (the 15th time Abram was mentioned)
    • “And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt…” (KJV).
  • Abraham enters Sodom:
    • Genesis 18:16 (the 15th time Abraham is mentioned)
    • And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way,” (KJV).
  • Eliezar goes to Haran to find a wife for Isaac (the 15th time Isaac is mentioned):
    • Genesis 24:14
    • And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master,” (KJV).
  • Joseph is sold into slavery, which changes the trajectory of his life.
    • Genesis 37:28 (the 15th time Joseph is mentioned)
    • Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt,” (KJV).
  • Naomi sends Ruth in a new direction, which ultimately leads Ruth to Boaz.
    • Ruth 3:1 (the 15th time Naomi is mentioned)
    • “then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee,” (KJV)?

 

Proverbs 20:24 says, “The LORD directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way,” (NLT)?  Similarly, Proverbs 16:9 says, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps,” (NIV).  How often do we plan our lives in one direction, only to find out that God has other plans?  In order to grow, and to be truly happy, we have to be willing to succumb to God’s will.  Maybe, for many of us, 2015 was the beginning of a new direction.  Maybe, God was stimulating the renewal of our minds.  In 2015, many of us were faced with new circumstances, challenges and opportunities that we could not have predicted.  However, the fact that we are reading this blog, only means that we survived 2015 and are walking into 2016, “The Year of Love!”

 

Sixteen is the number of love.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life,” (John 3:16, NIV).  In 1 Corinthians 13:1-8, Paul lists sixteen characteristics of love:

  1. Love is patient.
  2. Love is kind.
  3. Love is not jealous.
  4. Love is not boastful.
  5. Love is not proud.
  6. Love is not rude.
  7. Love does not demand its own way.
  8. Love is not irritable.
  9. Love keeps no record of being wronged.
  10. Love does not rejoice about injustice.
  11. Love rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
  12. Love never gives up.
  13. Love never loses faith.
  14. Love is always hopeful.
  15. Love endures through every circumstance.
  16. Love will last forever!

 

In Genesis 7:9, “There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah. This was the 16th time that Noah was mentioned.

 

Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit,” (NIV).  It was with His words that God created the heavens and the Earth.  It is with our words that we speak life into our situations.  I believe that 2016 will be the “Year of Love.”  This year, marriages will be consummated and reconciled; wayward sons and daughters will return home, and families and friendships will be restored.  I decree and declare this in Jesus’ name.  Amen!

 

 

 

Numerology References cited from The Biblical Meaning of Numbers from One to Forty by Dr. Stephen E. Jones.

It’s so easy to give up on God, isn’t it?  Why wouldn’t it be?  We can’t see Him.  We can’t hear Him?  We can’t experience Him with our five senses, at least not conventionally.  Having faith requires way more energy than just existing.  The notion of waiting patiently can often feel painstakingly disappointing.  Sometimes, it’s so much easier to say, “Why bother?!”

When most people talk about the pinnacle of faith, they usually cite Abraham.  His faith in God allowed him to be the father of many nations.  However, he almost allowed himself to be talked out of the blessings that God had promised him.

God had promised Abram that he would be the father of many nations.  However, many years had passed, and his wife Sarai was still barren.  Not only was she barren, she was also up in age.  For years, there was no sign of God’s promise.  In Sarai’s desperation, she offered Abram, her husband, to her servant Hagar.  The Bible said that, “Abram had sexual relations with Hagar, and she became pregnant,” (Genesis 16:4, NLT).

Now, let’s look at this scenario from a human standpoint.  Unless, Abram was a one-hit wonder, he probably didn’t hit the ball out of the park on the first attempt.  That probably meant that he had multiple encounters with Hagar.  I imagine that in Sarai’s attempt to increase the possibility of conception, she probably chose a young, pretty servant.  In other words, Hagar was probably younger and prettier than Sarai.  Imagine how horrible Sarai must have felt.  Not only was she subject to the feeling of inadequacy, she was now subjected to shame, rejection, humiliation and jealousy.  Additionally, when Hagar found out that she was pregnant, she began to mistreat Sarai, who ultimately became angry and resentful.

There are so many Biblical and cultural implications of the story of Hagar and Abram that we will not get into today.  Let’s fast forward some 13 to 14 years later.  Sarai and Abram whose name were now Sarah and Abraham, respectively, had a son, whom they named Isaac.

Hebrews 12:1-3 says:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up, (NLT).

The Bible illustrated that Abraham struggled with waiting on God (i.e. faith) as we ALL do.  But here is the revelation that I had.  Abraham and Sarah were desperate, but instead of taking their desperation to God, they took their desperation into their own hands and made a huge mess.  Thankfully, God is faithful even when we are not.  He never holds our past against us.  The moment that Abraham took his desperation to God, God refreshed him (Abraham) and reminded him of the promise that He made to him.  Shortly thereafter, Sarah became pregnant.

Here is the other revelation that I had:  Don’t allow others to talk you out of what God has promised you.  Only you know what your conversations with God were.  It’s possible that God’s directives to you might seem ridiculous to others.  It doesn’t matter.  They weren’t meant for them.  They were tailored to you!

I know that there are many people reading these words right now who are on the cusp of giving up on God.  You are desperate.  You are at the point of taking matters into your own hands, which might even include walking away from God.

At this, Abram fell face down on the ground. Then God said to him, “This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations! What’s more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations. I will make you extremely fruitful. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them! “I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you. And I will give the entire land of Canaan, where you now live as a foreigner, to you and your descendants. It will be their possession forever, and I will be their God,” (Genesis 17:3-8, NLT).

I believe that one of the reasons why God changed Abraham’s and Sarah’s names was to remind them that He does ALL things new.  God is the author and the finisher of our faith.  He is the Alpha and the Omega.

At this time, I encourage you to fall on the floor.  Roll around if you have to.  Scream out to God in desperation.  Ask Him to remember the promises that He made to you.  If you can’t think of a specific one, Jeremiah 29:11 is a good place to start.  There, God promised to prosper you and give you hope and a future.  Psalms 27:13 says, “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living,” (KJV).

Today’s prayer:  Lord, we come to you in desperation.  We fall at your feet in reverent humility.  Hear our hearts’ cry.  Do not allow us to take matters into our own hands.  The Bible says that you know us better than we know ourselves.  Meet us at the point where our faith is weak and we can no longer stand.  Lord, Sarai’s and Abram’s desperation set in because they did not see you move.  They became weak waiting on you to move.  Proverbs 13:12 says, Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life,” (NLT).  God, today, our hearts’ cry is that you step in before we take matters into our own hands.  Do not let us become so desperate that we move in our own accord.  Lord, show us your power.  Show us that you are the same God of Abraham–the God who created the Universe in His sovereign power.  Lord, we thank you, and we bless your name.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen!

©2015 Khadine Alston.  All Rights Reserved.  Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.