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FOLLOWING IN THE FOORSTEPS OF FAITH!

Friday, February 17, 2012

ABRAHAM, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, 2/17/2012

Genesis 18:17-19
THE PRIVILEGES OF THE GODLY MAN, Lesson 22

God is about to bring His wrath to bear upon the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Before He does this, He takes the time to speak to Abraham about His plans. In this passage, we are permitted to see a glimpse of the special relationship that existed between Abraham and the Lord. From this glimpse at their relationship, we are also permitted to see a snapshot of the relationship that is possible for every godly man living today.

As you know, there are many advantages to being saved today! For instance, missing Hell ranks near the top of my list! Having my sins forgiven, being able to fellowship with God, etc. are all wonderful possessions enjoyed by the redeemed man. But, along with those precious possessions also come some tremendous privileges.

What are the privileges of the godly man? This text points out a few of the more prominent ones. Allow me to share these with you today; but, with great privilege comes great responsibility! God gives us the privileges we enjoy so that He might use us for His glory in this present world. While we have a few minutes together today, let’s take some time and look into these verses. As we do, I want to point out “The Privileges Of The Godly Man“.

THE PRIVILEGE OF AN INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR FATHER.

Few of us grasp the intimate relationship that we possess with our Heavenly Father! These verses give a little insight into the matter. Abraham looked upon the Lord with awe and reverence, and rightly so! But, verse 17 seems to indicate that God looked upon Abraham as a friend, (Isa. 41:8)! How does He see us? Probably with a desire for far more intimacy than we ourselves desire (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6). I would just remind you that, if you are saved, you are a child of God, (1 John 3:1-3). His Spirit dwells within your heart, (John 14:16-18). You are on intensely intimate terms with the Lord.

Involves Divine Discernment - (v. 19 - “I know him...”) God knows us, (Heb. 4:13; Pro. 15:3), and His knowledge of us should cause us to gravitate toward honesty with Him. Isn’t it time God’s men became transparent in their walk with the Lord? Regardless of what we try, we can never hide anything from the Lord!

Involves Divine Dialogue - (v. 17-18; 20-33) The Lord opened a dialogue with Abraham, giving Abraham the opportunity to become and intercessor for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. The godly man has the privilege of being an intercessor for his family, friends and neighbors. He can, in a sense, become Jesus to others as he intercedes for them, (Heb. 7:25). One of the greatest privileges enjoyed by redeemed men is the privilege of prayer. Just the fact that we have unhindered, unfettered access into the presence of God is a blessing without compare, (Heb. 4:15-16)! May we be careful to exercise the gift of dialogue with the Almighty as we pass through this life! It has been said that “prayer changes things.” I know prayer is mighty in power through the power of God, (Eph. 3:20), but what is changed more often in those engaged in prayer! As you spend time before the throne of grace, you become more like the One to Whom you are praying! Abraham didn’t “Jew” God down, vs. 23-33! Abraham was just brought to the same place of grace, Love and mercy that God already occupied!

Involves Divine Decrees - (v. 18) This relationship brings with it glorious blessings that flow to us from the Lord. We have the privilege of enjoying His blessings and plans for us! What a great privilege to be known of the Lord; to be the focus of His precious plans, (Jer. 29:11). In Ps. 139:17 - God has His eye on your life! We may not know where the path of our lives will lead us, but when God does the planning of those paths, they always lead into glorious avenues of spiritual delight and power. Elijah never imagined where is path would take him, but in the end, it took him home to be with the Lord is a great demonstration of divine power and glory (Abraham, Job, Daniel, David, etc.) God had greater plans for each of them than could have ever imagined! Never fear to walk with the Lord, for He always orders our steps along the best path, (Ps. 37:23; Job 23:10).

THE PRIVILEGE OF AN INVOLVEMENT RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR FAMILY

Abraham’s privileges extended beyond his relationship with the Lord. According to the last phrase of verse 18, all the world would be blessed because of this man. What a privilege to be used by the Lord to touch those around you. What a privilege to be used to impact the lives of those yet unborn! Yet, that is how the Lord used this man and that is how He intends to use each of us to influence the lives around us! Notice how the grace of the Lord allows us to be involved in the lives of others.

We Are Involved Through Our Counsel - (v. 19) The word “command” carries the idea of “issuing orders”. The godly man has the great privilege of counseling others to follow the commands of the Word of God. We have been given the charge of sharing the Word of God with the generations which will follow us through this world. We have the privilege of passing on truth through our words! This speaks of our personal witness. As we pass through this world, we should leave behind a trail of heavenly counsel for others to follow. Let us be quick to share the message of the cross and the word of God with a lost world, (Acts 1:8; Mark 16:15). We only pass this way once, let’s make sure we leave a mark for the Lord as we do!

We Are Involved Through Our Character - (v. 19) The little phrase “after Him”, has the idea of “leaving a legacy for others to follow.” In other words, it isn’t just our words that are important, it is also our walk that matters greatly! We have been given the privilege of walking in integrity before a lost and dying world. We have a responsibility to the young ones, to our peer groups, to those who are weaker in the faith, to anyone who is walking the path of life and may watch our steps. We have a great duty to walk in integrity! Just as our speech is important so are our steps. It has been said, “What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say!” May we strive to walk the right kind of walk as we pass through this world, (Phil. 1:27). People are watching, let’s be sure they see the right thing! One of the greatest privileges of life is that of being able to walk like Him, (1 John 2:6)!

We Are Involved Through Our Continuation - (v. 19) “and they shall keep the way of the Lord”. The godly man need not fear that his involvement with the family and others around him will be in vain. This verse points out the fact that the godly man can invest his life without fear, knowing that in due time, the Lord will see to it that a harvest is reaped for the glory of God! What you do and say will not die when you die! Your involvement with those around you will continue to bear fruit long after you have departed this world. Preacher who didn’t see fruit during his lifetime, but reaped it after death.

Men have been given the privilege of leadership within the home and within the church, (Eph. 5). That places a tremendous responsibility upon each of our shoulders. Yet, it also places before us blessings that women will never experience! It is time that the men in our churches and in our homes stepped up to the plate and took the responsibility of leadership seriously before the Lord!

THE PRIVILEGE OF AN INVESTMENT RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR FUTURE

Abraham doesn’t realize it yet, but his investment in the generations unborn are going to make the Lord’s promises to him a reality. Because Abraham understood and walked in his privileges as a godly man, his future was far more glorious than his past. His investment continues to pay dividends today, and will continue to do so forever! In fact, you and I enjoy the fruit of Abraham’s investment every day we live on this earth!

Guaranteed By God’s Promises - “that which He hath spoken of him”, indicates that God is as good as His Word. When we see the investment of our lives as a privilege before the Lord and we exercise that privilege in faith, we can rest easy knowing the Lord will honor His promises to us! When you share His Word, remember that He has promised to honor that Word, (Is. 55:11). When you sow that Gospel seed, know that He will water it and give the increase in His time, (1 Cor. 3:6). Do not be afraid to live full tilt for Jesus, knowing that He will honor your sacrifice and that He will keep His promises to you, (Rom. 4:21)!

Guaranteed By God’s Presence - “LORD” - God refers to Himself by the name of LORD. This name refers to the “Self-Existent One. The One Who fills all things, sees all things and knows all things.” In other words, Abraham is being watched over by One Who is always there! What a privilege to exist in the presence of One Who will never leave us, (Heb. 13:5). What an honor to dwell with One Who knows us intimately, yet loves us still and Who refuses to leave us!

Guaranteed By God’s Power - “may bring upon Abraham” - We still serve a God Who is able to do everything He has promised and more! The vastness of His great power, (Is. 40:12, Job 42:2; Luke 1:38.) It is a privilege to serve a God Who is so powerful and so mighty. We serve a God Who not only proposes, but He also disposes! In other words, your future is safe in the hands of the Lord! Son, invest everything you have in Him and in His work today, He will see to it that the harvest is matured, and gathered for His glory!

Conc: Men, live up to your potential in Jesus and exercise the privileges you have been given! Thank God for the privilege of being a man! Let Him use you to accomplish His will in the world. Be a man after God’s Own heart! Be a man who fulfills God’s design for making man! Be intimate with God. Be involved with those around for His glory. And, always invest your life in the future. Those are your privileges, God help us all to be all we can be for His glory!

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE and BLESSING!

Psalm 61:1-8
New International Version (NIV)

1 Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. 2 From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. 3 For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. 4 I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. 5 For you, God, have heard my vows;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name. 6 Increase the days of the king’s life, his years for many generations. 7 May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever; appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him. 8 Then I will ever sing in praise of your name and fulfill my vows day after day.

INVITE SOMEONE TO JOIN THE TEAM!




  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CAVEPRINCESS65 2/18/2012 12:00AM

    Amen
Thank you for emoticon lessons

With God anything is possible; God will use us to enhance each other to victory. At times God will put us in an uncomfortable situations so we can be a blessing to others; helping them grow to the path God had laid down for them. Just remember, that discomfort is temporary and will be rewarded and we are fulfilling our duties and responsibilities to serve God as he intended us to be! emoticon

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POETLKNG2LOSE 2/17/2012 7:00PM

    Thanks for the lesson. I only pray God can use me and that I won't be afraid to follow Him.

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RELISA4HEALTH 2/17/2012 3:22PM

    Thanks for taking the time to pen down this devotional for many to read. I always loved the study of Abraham. What I love about him is that like many of us, he was an ordinary man, who became extrodanary because he believed God.
What I also love about him is that God shows that despite Abraham's humanness, God was faithful to perform in Him what He had promised, God would bring at the appointed time, His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, centuries latter.

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ADJQUILTER 2/17/2012 2:41PM

    Too often people focus on the things they feel that they are giving up when they decide to follow Christ's footsteps. Thank you for bringing out the privileges of that relationship in such a clear and cohesive way. The Christian life might not always be easy, but the fringe benefits are out of this world!
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SCTRACKER 2/17/2012 8:55AM

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JUST_BREATHE08 2/17/2012 8:24AM

    Thank you Vic once again for an emoticon lesson!!!

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GROEDER 2/17/2012 7:48AM

    The privileges that come with a relationship with God seem endless!!!! As are the responsibilities!!!
I pray for the faith and understanding to use these privileges as God plans for me to do.
Thanks for another inspiring lesson, Vic.

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WENDYSPARKS 2/17/2012 7:25AM

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FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, 2/16//2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Following In The Footsteps Of Faith Sermon, 2/16/2012

#Genesis 18:1-33
THREE SIDES OF A MAN NAMED ABRAHAM, Lesson 21

Everyone in this room wears many different hats. For instance, I am a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a friend, among many other things. This passage reveal three sides of the life of this man named Abraham. In this passage, he is visited personally by the Lord. During this visit we are given a glimpse at three sides of this great man's life. As Abraham is revealed to us here, we see some characteristics in his life that need to be seen in every life. For a few minutes, I want to look into this personal encounter between the Lord and Abraham. I want us to see the THREE SIDES OF A MAN NAMED ABRAHAM. Let's examine our lives to determine whether or not we are made of the same stuff as this great man was.

V. 18 THE MINISTRY OF A SERVANT

The identity of Abraham's visitors. One of these beings was the Lord Jesus Himself. The other two were angels. It seems that Abraham recognized the heavenly origin of his guests, because he sprang into action to serve them when they appeared. That reaction sets a good example for us because you never know when the Lord will show up in your life! When He does, He is looking for the same servant heart He found in Abraham. Notice three aspects of that servant's heart.

V. 1-6 The Quickness Of His Ministry - Abraham springs into action speedily trying to supply every need of his heavenly visitors. He may be 100, but there is no hesitation as he flies from one task to the next, until all is completed. Here is a man who recognized his duty and set about to do it as quickly as possible! May I just remind you that the Lord deserves the best service we can give Him?! When we are serving Him, regardless of how menial the task, we should do our best to recognize Who we are serving and we should seek to do the best possible job for the glory of the Lord! (Col. 3:23; Eph. 6:6). If it is worth doing for the Lord, it is worth doing right, (2 Cor. 10:13.)

V. 7-8 The Quality Of His Ministry - Not only was Abraham swift in his service to the Lord, but he was also sacrificial in his service to the Lord. He went to his flock and personally selected, killed and prepared a calf for their meal. You haven't really become a servant until your service costs you personally. Being willing to sacrifice for your master is a sign that you possessed a servant's heart, whether the service is time, tithe or talents, it is willingness rendered at the request of the Master and for His glory. The greatest sacrifice you can offer, of course, is yourself, (Rom. 12:1)! That is a sacrifice that no one else can give to Him! By the way, when He has you, He has everything you have anyway!

V. 8 The Quietness Of His Ministry - While his visitors were eating their meal, Abraham stood quietly by to serve them in any way they might need. He simply stood beside them, adopting the pose of a servant, listening for the voice of his Lord! Imagine the reaction of Abraham's servants as they watched him assume the role of a servant to the Lord. What a powerful testimony it was to them! By the way, others are watching! Make sure your service and testimony are all they should be! Real servants of God are those individuals who make themselves ever available to the Lord and His work. They are ready and willing to serve Him on a moments notice. When there are no orders to follow, they continue to do the last thing He told them until new orders come. They are His and they have no will of their own, but they are lost in His will for their lives! That is a servant's heart!

V. 9-21 THE MESSAGE FOR A SAINT

God always rewards the faithful service that is rendered to Him. In Abraham's case, He does this by reassuring Abraham regarding the birth of Isaac. Verses 18-19 tell us of the great affection, knowledge and care God possessed for this man Abraham. God knew what caliber of man Abraham was. He knew that Abraham would stand the test and be all that God wanted him to be. He is clearly pictured as God's saint in these verses.

v. 9-15 A Message About A Child - God had given this promise repeatedly to Abraham. The last time, Gen. 17:17, Abraham had laughed for joy when he heard again the glorious promise of hope from the Lord. This time, the promise is repeated for the benefit of Sarah. All she had heard was second hand promises from Abraham, this time she hears the promise directly from the mouth of God. Her reaction is vastly different from that of her husband. He laughed for joy, she laughs from doubt! She is confronted and rebuked. This episode is a reminder that God knows everything there is to know about you and me. He knows our motives, our secret sins and all things that we do. Nothing is hidden from His eyes, (Heb. 4:13).

V. 16-21 A Message About A City - This is a precious point in Abraham's relationship with the Lord. Because of who he is, how he has conducted himself and the future he is to enjoy, God is determined to share His heart with Abraham. Imagine being in a position of closeness to the Lord that motivated Him to share His heart with you. No doubt this is among the passage that prompted the Jews to refer to Abraham as "the friend of God.", (James 2:23; Is. 41:8; Ex. 33:11). God wants to have that same kind of relationship with each and every one of us today! When we are in a position of closeness to Him, He will share His heart and His will with us. Never feel that this kind of relationship is only for the super saints! I will remind you of the great truth that as we seek to get closer to Him, He responds by moving closer to us,(James 4:8).

V. 22-33 THE MEDIATION OF A SON

The message that the Lord had shared with Abraham was a difficult message to hear. It had been revealed to him that his kinsmen, Lot and his family, were in danger of death and destruction. "The cry" of that place and their "grievous sin" was the reason for the coming destruction. To many, Sodom must have been viewed as a showplace and a success story. They probably bragged about how it had been rebuilt after the great war of Gen. 14. Abraham knew different. He knew the city was slated for destruction. Those of us who know the Bible know that our world thinks awfully highly of itself. However, it too is slated for destruction! May we learn to pray like Abraham did so that we can see our world saved! He received the message and it motivated him to action before the Lord. Perhaps this was a factor in God's desire to share the message with Abraham! Perhaps he wanted to motivate Abraham to move deeper in his relationship with God. We have seen Abraham the servant. We have seen Abraham the Saint. Now, we are given a chance to see Abraham the son speaking with his heavenly Father!

V. 22-23 The Distance Between Them - Abraham stood before the Lord and when the angels departed, he drew near to the Lord. I praise the Lord for the truth that God's children can approach Him and draw as near as they please to their heavenly Father. Listen to His invitation to you and me, (Matt. 11:28; Heb. 4:15-16; Rom. 8:15-17).

V. 24-33 The Dialogue Between Them - Abraham's prayer to the Lord arises out of several burdens he carries because of the revelation he has just received. First, he is concerned about God's reputation. If the Lord simply destroys the people of Sodom out of hand, Abraham is concerned that people will get the wrong impression of God and of His love for sinners. Secondly, he is thinking about Lot and his family, who live in Sodom. He wants to see them spared, at the very least. So he begins to talk to God about the situation and gets God to agree to spare the city if just 10 righteous people can be found there. In Lot's family, there was Lot, his wife, two unmarried daughters and at least two married daughters and their husbands. This was a total of at least eight people in that family. Abraham must have thought that Lot would have at least won his family and a few others. Although Abraham did not know it at the time, his prayer was answered! God did spare the righteous when He destroyed the wicked. When the morning came and Abraham looked toward Sodom and saw the smoke of that place, (Gen. 19:27-28), he must have been discouraged.

However, his prayer had been heard and it had been successful, (Gen 19:29). Sometimes, our prayers seem to be very ineffective and weak, but only in eternity will we know the full impact of our personal ministry of prayer in the lives of others. Therefore, do not be discouraged, just pray and trust the Lord to bring it to pass!

Conc: If there is anything that you need to take away from this service, it is this: a close, personal relationship with God is possible for anyone who desires it! In your heart, are you honestly as close to the Lord as you would like to be? Are you His servant, running eagerly and speedily to do His will? Are you His saint, listening intently as He reveals His will and ways to you? Are you His son, His child, interceding before the throne of the Heavenly Father on behalf of those who do not have access to Him? Do you need to work on one or more of these areas of your relationship with the Lord? If so, there is help to be found in His altar!

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE and BLESSING!
Psalm 59:1-8
New International Version (NIV)


1 Deliver me from my enemies, O God; be my fortress against those who are attacking me. 2 Deliver me from evildoers and save me from those who are after my blood. 3 See how they lie in wait for me! Fierce men conspire against me for no offense or sin of mine, LORD. 4 I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me. Arise to help me; look on my plight! 5 You, LORD God Almighty, you who are the God of Israel, rouse yourself to punish all the nations; show no mercy to wicked traitors. 6 They return at evening,
snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city. 7 See what they spew from their mouths—
the words from their lips are sharp as swords, and they think, “Who can hear us?” 8 But you laugh at them, LORD; you scoff at all those nations.

Share This Lesson With Those YOU Love!





  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

POETLKNG2LOSE 2/17/2012 6:53PM

    Thank you for this post. I am not as close to God as i should be. I don't spend enough time with Him sometimes.

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SAVINGHANNAH 2/16/2012 10:24PM

    Thanks for all your great wisdom and insight. emoticon

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SCTRACKER 2/16/2012 3:17PM

    Thank you for today's blog.

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ADJQUILTER 2/16/2012 10:34AM

    Lord give me a servant heart like you found in your servant Abraham. Bless Vic for the loving servant's work that he does to share his knowledge of your word, and bless and inspire those his word reaches.
Amen!

Vic,
I am just digging into your blog, and have decided to go back to the beginning and read all of the posts. The wisdom and faith shown here are priceless. God bless you, dear friend.
Arlene
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Comment edited on: 2/16/2012 10:35:17 AM

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GROEDER 2/16/2012 7:51AM

    It is wonderful that, not only, are we servants of God, but He is also our friend and as approachable as we want!!!!
What better than to serve the One who loves and is always there for us!!
I pray for a blessed day for you today and every day, vic.

Comment edited on: 2/16/2012 7:52:18 AM

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FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, 2/15/2012

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Abraham: Following In The Footsteps Of Faith , 2/15/2012

Genesis 16:1-16
THAT TROUBLE WITH HAGAR, Lesson 19

It is amazing the depths to which God's own people can sink. Here is Abram, a man who is following God by faith. He has believed God enough to leave his homeland and his family behind. He has trusted God through battles and trials that would have made many men turn around in defeat and return home. Yet, for all his faith and his good deeds, Abram is still a human. He is still made of sinful flesh and there is still within him a pull towards the world and all its allurements.

We all know what this passage is about. Sarai and Abram try to help God give them a son by having Abram take Sarai's maidservant Hagar as his wife. Of course, this was never God's will for their lives, but, as with us, this did not stop them from rushing headlong into it anyway. Their decision brought with it far reaching consequences for them and for our world today. As we have time today, let's spend a few minutes in this passage on the thought “That Trouble With Hagar“.

V. 1-4a THE REASONS FOR THE TROUBLE

While all the reasons behind this fiasco are far too many to mention, there are three reasons that warrant mention today.

The Acceptance They Were Desiring - In that society, it was considered a disgrace for a couple to be childless. In our day, many couples choose that lifestyle for themselves and that is okay. Others have that choice forced on them by physical reasons. In Abram's day, regardless of the reasons behind it, if a couple had no children, they were mocked, looked down on and largely were not accepted in society.

This was a society that also thought nothing of multiple marriages. If a man like Abram were to take Hagar as a concubine, or secondary wife, no one around them would think a thing of it. If that concubine were to bear a child, it would be considered to be the child of the first, or primary wife. In this way, Sarai could get the child she desired and be accepted in the community. God's children are often guilty of lowering their standards to those of the community around them in order to fit in better. It is better to please God and be rejected by men that it is to please men and be rejected by God! There MUST be a clear line of demarcation between the people of the Lord and the world around them, (2 Cor. 6:17.) Many churches are falling into that trap today!

The Baggage They Were Dragging - The Bible tells us that Hagar was an Egyptian. She is part of the possessions that Abram brought back with him from his sinful journey into Egypt, (Gen. 12:10-20). Had he never journey to that country, there would have been no Hagar to marry! He is still reaping the harvest he sowed in Egypt! You never go into sin and come out clean! There is always some reminder, some evidence that you were there! That is the Law of Sowing and Reaping, (Gal. 6:7-8.)

The Promises They Were Doubting - Gen. 15:1-6 tells the story of God's great promise to Abram. When the promise was given, Abram reacted in faith, but as time has gone by, Abram has begun to doubt. He, along with Sarai, decides that God needs help in fulfilling His promise. After all, God only said that Abram would father a son; He didn't say by whom he would father that son! It is my conviction that doubt towards the Word and promises of the Lord accounts for more of our troubles than anything other single thing. We can read what He has promised us, but when the promise isn't fulfilled immediately, we begin to doubt and try to find way to make it happen ourselves. When will we ever learn that:
A. God always keeps His Word, (Heb. 6:18; Rom. 4:21; Ps. 119:89);
B. God is a God of order and that He doesn't run on our schedule, (for example, Jesus - Men needed a Savior for 4,000 years before He came, but God sent Him "in the fulness of time", (Gal. 4:4.);
C. God doesn't need our help to accomplish His will, (Ps. 50:12).

V. 4b-9 THE REACTIONS TO THE TROUBLE

All three of the participants in this fiasco reacted differently to the situation. All three reacted differently, but it is worthy to note that all three reacted badly. By the way, when sin and its problems, or any problem from any source for that matter, arrives in our lives, most of the people in this room will react to it in one of the three manners I am about to share with you.

V. 6 Abram Reacted By Being Unaccountable - He tried to pretend that there was no problem and that if there was a problem, it was Sarai's to deal with. He totally ignored his responsibility in the whole situation. Many people try to deal with their problems by simply ignoring them. This will never work! Left us settled them , because small problems grow into bigger ones in a short time. (2 Sam. 13:1-39 - David ignored the problem of Amnon and Tamar and the problem grew until Absalom took matters into his own hands and killed his brother)! Therefore, whether it be a problem in the home, on the job, in the community, at school or in the church, it must be confronted and dealt with or it will get out of hand. Just ask Abram!

V. 5 Sarai Reacted By Being Unreasonable - Sarai was miserable because of the pride and haughtiness of Hagar, so she tried to make everyone else around her miserable too. She tried to blame Abram for the problem. She tried to blame Hagar for the problem. She even dragged God into the problem. She fleshed out the proverb: "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" There are many who approach the problems of life with a similar attitude. If they are unhappy, they want everyone else around them to be unhappy as well. So, they get grouchy, mean-spirited, short-tempered and become hard to get along with. Lest we forget, this is not a Christ-like response to trouble and problems, (Gal. 5:22-23; 1 Cor. 13:4-8)! He would have us learn to handle the problems of life without attacking others or attempting to make them as miserable as we are!

V. 6b-9 Hagar Reacted By Being Unavailable - Hagar decided that the answer to her problems was flight. She just packed up and left to get away from the problem. This is the most common response of all! When problems arise at church, don't seek a solution, seek a new church. When problems arise on the job, don't fix it, find a new job. When problems crop up in the marriage, don't work it out, just find yourself a new mate. The giants of Canaan and the children of Israel….They ran from the them first time, (Numbers 13-14); but before their descendants could claim the land, they had to be faced and defeated, (Deut. 9:1-2).

I would just call your attention to the fact that God sent Hagar back to the family, (16:9). He did this for several reasons, but among them is the fact that God intended to use this situation to help each of these three people to learn to face their problems His way. Abram had to face it. Sarai had to deal with it. Hagar had to live in it. God's business isn't to make you happy. He wants to make you holy! Happiness will not occur until we first become holy. Forcing you to face your problems is one way of accomplishing that end!

V. 10-16 THE RESULTS OF THE TROUBLE

Proverbs 13:15 says, "Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard." Numbers 32:23 says, "...be sure your sin will find you out." These and other verses remind us of the sad truth that sin brings with it troubles and trials. The situation before us today is no different!

V. 11-12 A Difficult Son Was Born - Ishmael is called a wild man. Many parents seem determined to raise their own "wild men" through lack of standards and discipline in the home! He would be difficult to handle and would be aggressive towards others. Ishmael represents the difficulties that arise when sin is allowed to divert us from God's path for our lives. Remember, sin brings it's own club. Ishmael is a picture of that truth. What might your sin give birth to in your life? Remember - (Gal. 6:7-8)!

V. 21:9-11 A Dysfunctional Family Was Burdened - As Ishmael grew, the tensions surrounding him grew as well. In other words, the sin of Abram and Sarai, even after many years, still brought heartache and trouble into the home! I would just remind you that your sins, no matter how small and insignificant you may think them to be, always affect you and those around you! They poison your spirit, they sabotage your family and they hinder your walk with God. Many families are burdened this evening by the so-called hidden sins of those in that family! The answer to sin is to drag it into the light, (Pro. 28:13). Sin cannot live when it is brought out of the darkness into the marvelous light of the glory of God, (John 3:19-21).

V. 10-12 A Divine Plan Was Bolstered - Even though this sin was accomplished by the will of men, it was going to be used for the glory of God. Those involved could not see how things would play out in our day. Yet, much of the trouble the world is dealing with today, especially in the Arab world, is a direct result of Abram's sin with Hagar. The Arabs are going to figure heavily in God's plan for the end time events. You see, nothing, even our sins, catches God by surprise. He can take the worst of our failures and use them for His glory. That is not an excuse for evil, but a reason to get up and go on after we fall. Therefore, when sin is committed in your life, do not run from it. Rather, run to the Lord and fine the cleansing and forgiveness He offers thought grace, (1 John 1:9).

Conc: So many areas of our lives have been addressed in this message that I would be surprised if there was a single person today who has not been spoken to directly. While we live in this world, there will be sins and there will be times when we react badly to the trials and problems of life. But, my friends, those sins and those bad reactions do not have to mark our lives! There is a place, called the altar, where we can go to find the help, forgiveness and restoration we so desperately need. If this text has spoken to your life today, please bring it to the Lord and let Him have His way in your life!

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE and BLESSING!
Psalm 51:1-10
New International Version (NIV)

1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. 5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. 6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. 7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Invite someone to come join the TEAM!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DIDMIS 2/19/2012 7:02PM

    Vic I read this and really liked it. It reminded me again that God's timing is as important as knowing His will. I forwarded it to my pastor. Hope you don't mind. I thought it was that good.

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POETLKNG2LOSE 2/17/2012 6:46PM

    Thank you for those words; how true they are. How often have I wanted to run away from problems instead of confronting them; especially when it involves people. I hate conflicts and having to admit when you are wrong. Recently in the last couple of weeks God had me confess in our woman's bible study that I had a spirit of jealousy over her home and what she had in it. How humbling that was!

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WENDYSPARKS 2/15/2012 2:44PM

    emoticon

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CAM2438 2/15/2012 7:19AM

    THANK-YOU FOR THOSE WORDS TODAY!

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FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, 2/14/2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Abraham: Following In The Footsteps Of Faith , 2/14/2012

Genesis 16:1-16
THAT TROUBLE WITH HAGAR, Lesson 19,

It is amazing the depths to which God's Own people can sink. Here is Abram, a man who is following God by faith. He has believed God enough to leave his homeland and his family behind. He has trusted God through battles and trials that would have made many men turn around in defeat and return home. Yet, for all his faith and his good deeds, Abram is still a human. He is still made of sinful flesh and there is still within him a pull towards the world and its allurements.

We all know what this passage is about. Sarai and Abram try to help God give them a son by having Abram take Sarai's maidservant, Hagar, as his wife. Of course, this was never God's will for their lives, but, as with us, this did not stop them from rushing headlong into it anyway. Their decision brought with it far reaching consequences for them and for our world today. Let's spend a few minutes in this passage on the thought That Trouble With Hagar.

In V. 1-4a THE REASONS FOR THE TROUBLE
While all the reasons behind this fiasco are far too many to mention, there are three reasons that warrant mention.

The Acceptance They Were Desiring - In that society, it was considered a disgrace for a couple to be childless. In our day, many couples choose that lifestyle for themselves and that is okay. Others have that choice forced on them by physical reasons. In Abram's day, regardless of the reasons behind it, if a couple had no children, they were mocked, looked down on and largely were not accepted in society.

This was a society that also thought nothing of multiple marriages. If a man like Abram were to take Hagar as a concubine, or secondary wife, no one around them would think a thing of it. If that concubine were to bear a child, it would be considered to be the child of the first, or the primary wife. In this way, Sarai could get the child she desired and be accepted in the community. God's children are often guilty of lowering their standards to those of the community around them in order to fit in better. It is better to please God and be rejected by men that it is to please men and be rejected by God (Acts 4:19)! There must be a clear line of demarcation between the people of the Lord and the world around them, (2 Cor. 6:17.) Many churches are falling into that trap today!

The Baggage They Were Dragging - The Bible tells us that Hagar was an Egyptian. She is part of the possessions that Abram brought back with him from his sinful journey into Egypt, (Gen. 12:10-20). Had he never journey to that country, there would have been no Hagar to marry! He is still reaping the harvest he sowed in Egypt! You never go into sin and come out clean! There is always some reminder, some evidence, that you were there! That is the Law of Sowing and Reaping, (Gal. 6:7-8).

The Promises They Were Doubting - Gen. 15:1-6 tells the story of God's great promise to Abram. When the promise was given, Abram reacted in faith, but as time has gone by, Sarai has begun to doubt. He, along with Sarai, decides that God needs help in fulfilling His promise. After all, God only said that Abram would father a son; He didn't say by whom he would father that son! It is my conviction that doubt towards the Word and promises of the Lord accounts for more of our troubles than anything other single thing. We can read what He has promised us, but when the promise isn't fulfilled immediately, we begin to doubt and try to find way to make it happen ourselves. When will we ever learn that: God always keeps His Word, (Heb. 6:18; Rom. 4:21; Ps. 119:89); God is a God of order and that He doesn't run on our schedule; for example, Jesus - Men needed a Savior for 4,000 years before He came, but God sent Him "in the fullness of time", (Gal. 4:4.); and God doesn't need us to take matters into our hands in order to accomplish His will, (Ps. 50:12.)


TODAY’S SCRIPTURE and BLESSING;
Psalm 50:7-15
New International Version (NIV)

7 “Listen, my people, and I will speak; I will testify against you, Israel: I am God, your God. 8 I bring no charges against you concerning your sacrifices or concerning your burnt offerings, which are ever before me. 9 I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, 10 for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. 11 I know every bird in the mountains, and the insects in the fields are mine. 12 If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it. 13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? 14 “Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, 15 and call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”

LET‘S INVITE OTHERS TO COME JOIN THE TEAM!


  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SCTRACKER 2/14/2012 9:22AM

    emoticonfor your faithfulness in posting this devotional.

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GROEDER 2/14/2012 7:28AM

    I am still impatient and want to "help" God do what I THINK I need. Slowly, I am learning that all I need is faith and trust and He will take care of the rest!!!!
Praise God for his wisdom!!

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FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, 2/13/2012

Monday, February 13, 2012

ABRAHAM: FOLLOWING IN THE STEPS OF FAITH, 2/13/2012

Gen. 16:1-14
THE GOD WHO SEES, Part 18

THE COMFORT OF HIS OMNISCIENCE

When we think of the omniscience of God, we often think of just the negative side. We think about how God sees everything we think, say or do, and this thought bothers us. In reality, the complete knowledge of God is one of the most comforting truths there is! Let me tell you why.

He Sees The Supplicant – In this passage, we see Hagar on the run. She is in a time of terrible distress. Yet, in the midst of her trial, she has a conversation with God. We call this prayer. I am glad God hears me when I pray, aren’t you? That is His promise, (Isa. 65:24; Jer. 33:3; Matt. 7:7-11). But, there are times when I cannot put my prayers into words. What then? The God Who sees all things sees even the thought of my heart that cannot be expressed. He hears the prayer that remains unspoken. He interprets the message of our tears. He reads the unspoken message of the burdened heart! He does not need for us to frame our prayers in words (although we should); He can comprehend the depth of our petition, because He knows us intimately (Rom. 8:26-27). Even when the golden thread of life is severed and I slip out into eternity, I will enter Heaven with a prayer in my spirit and He will know that prayer just as surely as He knows me today!

He Sees The Sufferer – In these verses, Hagar is suffering. She has been rejected, abused and hated. She is all alone and on the run. Her heart is broken and she does not know what to do. In her pain, she encounters the God Who sees. No other person sees it all! All around us today, there are people who suffer. They have pain and heartache that they keep well hidden from those around them. Take heart my friends! People around you may not see nor understand, but there is a God in Heaven who knows all about the path you walk, (Job 23:10). He knows where you are today and He knows what is around the next bend in the road. Since He knows, He is able to help you as no other! He knows your pain, (Heb. 4:15). He cares about you (1 Pet. 5:7). He is able to give you peace in your valley (Phil. 4:6-7). He is able to work in your situation to bring about the best conclusion (Rom. 8:28; 2 Cor. 4:17). He knows how to bring joy out of your dark night (Ps. 30:15).

He Sees The Slandered – Hagar has also been slandered. She is but a slave and she has been forced by her mistress into a situation she could not avoid. Now, she is forced to bear the brunt of Sarai’s anger. In that place of misunderstanding and slander, she finds help from the God Who sees. There is no shortage of people who would slander our good names and our pure motives, who hasn’t been misunderstood, misrepresented or become the focus of some malicious gossip and their hateful words. We all have, but God sees the truth! While other might spread their lies, God knows all there is to know about you and the circumstances you are in. One day, He will set the record straight. How do you answer your accusers? By doing good… David, in 1 Sam. 17, was ridicules by Eliab, (v. 28) and by Saul, (v. 32). David’s answer was to walk across the plain and slay the giant. God’s answer to slander and our answer to slander should be that we always do the right thing. Live for God and stay the course and God will allow you to live down those who would damage your good name! That is His plan!

He Sees The Sinner – By birth, Hagar was an Egyptian. She was a heathen, a pagan, a sinner. Yet, the eye of God was upon her. She ran away, but she could not get away from the gaze of God. If you are lost, you may think God doesn’t think about you. The truth is, He sees all you do. He is there when the thought of sin in conceived. He is there when the deed of sin is carried out. He will be watching when the sentence of sin is carried out. Imagine the difference in the O.J. Simpson trial if Judge Lance Ito could have entered the courtroom and said, “I saw it all!” Well, God can and will say that! There will be no hiding in that day. Rev. 20:11-15 teaches us that the best thing you can do is turn to Jesus for salvation today.

Conc: Thank God that He sees all! It may be that Satan or others have been telling you that God is not seeing what you are going through. Satan is a liar. God sees and God cares. Do you need to talk to Him about some things? Maybe you need to come and acknowledge His watch care. Maybe you need to bow and thank Him that He is The God Who Sees.

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE and BLESSING:
Psalm 139:14-24
New International Version (NIV)

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you. 19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty! 20 They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. 21 Do I not hate those who hate you, LORD, and abhor those who are in rebellion against you? 22 I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies. 23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SCTRACKER 2/13/2012 7:33PM

    emoticon for sharing.

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POETLKNG2LOSE 2/13/2012 5:00PM

    Thank you for that message Vic i often get bogged down with despair and self pity.

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LOSTLIME 2/13/2012 9:43AM

    Thank you for sharing with us.

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JUST_BREATHE08 2/13/2012 9:01AM

    Thank you Vic once again for an Awesome Blog!!

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CAM2438 2/13/2012 7:35AM

    THANK-YOU FOR THOSE WORDS!

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