Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 92:1 – 4
Read the “0117 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“And the famine was sore in the land.” (Genesis 43:1)
Back when I was in Bible college in Texas, our pastor would teach a principle and refer to it often when he was counseling people regarding finances and stewardship. He called it the “Joseph Principle,” which basically teaches that money needs to be saved in the plentiful years so that there will be enough to last during the lean years. In these chapters that we have been reading here in Genesis, God miraculously revealed to Joseph through the dream of Pharaoh that there would be seven very plenteous years where there would be an abundance of food produced in Egypt and the surrounding area, which included the land of Canaan where Joseph’s family lived. Unfortunately, those seven very good years would be followed by seven very bad years when the crops would fail and food would be scarce. Note – the story of Pharaoh’s dream and the plan of Joseph is found in chapter 41. The implementation of the plan and the results of the famine are in the following chapters including the portion for today.
Joseph came up with a plan that would dramatically increase the strength and prosperity of Egypt through those lean years. He advised Pharaoh to purchase as much food as he could during the plenteous years, when it was cheap, and then store it up for the lean years. When the abundance ran out in the land, people were then forced to go to Joseph and purchase food from him at a much higher price, and then when their money ran out, they were forced to turn over their land to Pharaoh in return for food. The wealth of Egypt increased while all others who were unprepared suffered tremendous losses.
The very obvious stewardship principle that we should learn from this story is that we also need to store up wealth and other resources when it is abundant so that we will have enough when the lean years come. Right now, in America, we are still experiencing incredible prosperity. God has blessed this nation abundantly. I know that we are in a period of inflation and that interest rates have increased somewhat recently, but there are still plenty of jobs out there and much income to be earned for people who are willing to work hard. As a matter of fact, in this lazy culture that we are living in, if you are willing to be diligent and work hard you will be an absolute hero at your workplace and will likely advance very quickly. There is really no excuse today for people to be struggling, unless they have health issues, etc., that are hindering them from being able to work.
But during these prosperous times, you must prepare for the lean years that will surely come our way in the future. You cannot squander all that God supplies you with today. You need to save some of it for tomorrow. My recommendation to you who are able to work and earn income for your family is to earn as much as you can today while still maintaining your family and spiritual priorities. In other words, don’t spend so much time working that you are neglecting your time with your family and your service to the Lord.
Once you have a good source of income, you need to budget your money carefully, making sure that you are giving back to the Lord. I am a believer in giving at least a tithe to the Lord’s work as well as offerings to special projects. You also need to be saving for the future and for the rainy days that surely will come. There are a lot of great Christian resources out there that can help you in the area of stewardship, but one in particular that we have used to help the folks in our church is Ramsey Solutions, a ministry headed up by Dave Ramsey that has helped many people get out of debt and prepare for their future. There are other good resources available as well.
Don’t put off preparing for the future. If you start now, you will be in a strong position when the times get hard and you may even be able to help others who are not as prepared as you are. The Joseph Principle is a great nugget of wisdom that all of us should put into practice before it is too late.
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 5 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Ephesians 4:32
Read a previous post from this passage – “In His Time“
Read the “0116 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” (Genesis 41:16)
In chapter 41 of Genesis, we hear about Pharaoh’s dreams of the corn and the kine. He knows that these dreams mean something, but he has no clue what the significance of them is. He learns that there is a man named Joseph down in the dungeon that has been known to interpret dreams for other people. Joseph is hastily summoned to appear before Pharaoh, and Pharaoh questions him about his supposed ability to explain the meaning of these of these dreams. Joseph is very quick to deflect the focus from himself to the Lord. He doesn’t take any credit for his gift but immediately gives the glory to God. In fact, five times in Joseph’s discussion with Pharaoh Joseph mentions God to Pharaoh. (vs. 16, 25, 28, and 32) Pharaoh gets the message also, because in vs. 38 and 39, he acknowledges that the interpretation of the dream can from God also:
“And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art:” (Genesis 41:38-39)
This heathen king was introduced to the God of the Universe all because Joseph took an opportunity to use a gift that was given to him by God and acknowledge the fact that it was God who enabled him to do it.
How many opportunities do we get each day to display our God-given abilities to the lost world around us? But, when we do a good job and we are recognized, do we give God the glory by letting everybody know that it is God who is working through us? Let’s not steal God’s glory, and let’s not waste opportunities to be witnesses for the Lord. Our sole purpose in life is to make God look good and to glorify Him in front of a lost and dying world. If we meet Pharaoh in Heaven someday, it will likely be because Joseph made God look good. How many people do we point to God?
By the way, the opposite of this story is also true. When we do wrong things in front of the lost people around us, we are making God look bad. What an awesome responsibility and privilege we have to represent the Lord in this world. Let’s be sure to give Him the glory when we get things right and take the blame when we do things wrong. Let’s make God look good to the world around us.
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 5 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 89:1
Read the “0115 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:7-9)
Joseph was a man of great godly character and is a wonderful picture, or type, of Christ in that regard. He is simply not like other men. He has the ability to say no to his flesh and completely yield to the will of God for his life. This attribute of godly character can be exhibited in many examples from Joseph’s life, but a particularly vivid picture of this is painted for us in the verses above. Joseph, a young, single man, was being tempted in the area of sexual purity by the wife of his employer. Joseph had the perfect opportunity to yield to the the lusts of his flesh, but instead refuses. He says, “NO!” He knew that yielding to Potiphar’s wife’s wishes was foremost a sin against God and was also a sin against Potiphar, a man that had been very good to Joseph up to this point. How many young men in Joseph’s position would have been able to resist the temptation and say no to this kind of proposition?
Sexual impurity is not limited to just the act of committing adultery with another man’s wife. It is just as wrong for unmarried people to commit fornication regardless of what our very carnal contemporary culture would say. It is also dangerous to view images portraying sexual impurity on the internet. It is very difficult for both men and women to say no to their flesh and yield to God in these areas, but it can be done through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says:
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)
I realize that the Holy Spirit did not work in quite the same way in the Old Testament time that Joseph lived, but I know this: Joseph had a deep and abiding relationship with God, which is exactly what walking in the Spirit is for the New Testament Christian today. Joseph’s love for God and His will superseded Joseph’s fleshly desires. Joseph did not have “better flesh” than other men; he was not superhuman. He just was in love with God.
Peter wrote about this level of Christian discipline:
“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8)
Notice two of the seven attributes that Peter states can and should be added to every Christian’s life: virtue and godliness. These are the two that Joseph exemplified in his encounter with Potiphar’s wife. However, Joseph also demonstrated the other five attributes listed by Peter throughout his life. And so can we, if we are walking with and filled with the Spirit of God, and yielded to God’s will. It is not easy to “just say no” to our flesh, but it is certainly not impossible with God’s help.
By the way, we see quite a contrast in Joseph’s godly character in chapter 39 with the character of Judah and his family in chapter 38. Notice the language used in v. 2:
“2 And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name was Shuah; and he took her, and went in unto her.” (Genesis 38:2)
It does not say that he married her; it just states that he “went in unto her.” There is all kinds of other weirdness going on in this chapter also including immoral behavior by Judah’s sons and also Judah sleeping with his daughter-in-law whom he thought was a harlot.
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 7 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Matthew 6:33
Read the “0114 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.” (Genesis 37:11)
“And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him,” (Acts 7:9)
“O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on; …” (“Othello” – Shakespeare)
“For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.” (Mark 15:10)
“Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:26)
“Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?” – (Proverbs 27:4)
You have probably heard the expression, “Jealousy is a terrible thing.” There can be no clearer illustration of this truth than the example given here in Genesis 37. Here Joseph’s brothers are so jealous (envious) of Joseph that they first conspire to kill him, but finally acquiesce to selling him into slavery. What would cause them to envy there brother so much that it would cause them to sin so against him (not to mention against their father)? I believe we can see three ingredients that fueled the jealousy.
1 The Favoritism of the Father – Joseph was one of only two boys that was born to Rachel, the wife he loved dearly; and he was the second youngest of all of his children. Jacob did not attempt to veil his love for this child, either He made it clear to all others inthe family that He had a very special place in his heart for Joseph. He made him a beautiful coat of many colors. The other brothers received no such token of the father’s affection. It is not wrong to treat our children individually, based upon the needs that each may have; but it is wrong for parents to love their children differently. I confess, that at times this can be difficult; but we must strive to assure each of our children that we love them, and that our love for each does not exceed the love of another.
2 The Folly of the Son – I may be off base here; but Joseph did not show much wisdom in his bold declarations of the dreams to his brothers. God had obviously revealed a special plan for Joseph: a plan which involved him being placed in a position of authority over, not only his brothers, but also his father and mother. Maybe it was just because of his honest nature, but Joseph seemed to almost rub it in the face of his brothers.
3 The Finger of God – God obviously had his hand on the boy’s life. He had a special plan for Joseph. God’s hand upon Joseph was clearly evident to his brothers, and I believe this was the real problem. They saw in Joseph something they had lost. Joseph had a purity about him, that we have already seen to be lacking in some, if not all, of his brothers. They saw in Joseph what they should be, and instead of rejoicing in his devotion to the Lord, they attempted to destroy the reminder.
Envy is a terrible thing. I fight it all of the time in my life. I hear of a preacher being blessed of God in his ministry, and often the “green eyed monster” rears his ugly head. I sometimes have to force myself to rejoice in the victory that God is giving to my brothers. I bet that some of you have this problem as well. God blesses somebody in your life, maybe financially or materially, and you get jealous. Maybe your peer at work receives a promotion, and you don’t. How does it make you feel? Ask God to help you rid your heart of this monster. This green beast does not come from the Spirit of God; he is purely a product of your sinful nature. Don’t allow him to influence you to such an extent that you sin against God and others with your words or actions. The “Green Eyed Monster” needs to be put to death in all of our lives. Remember, God is not a repecter of persons. He loves no one more than he loves you, and He has a special plan for your life, just as much as He has used others.
Posted in Thoughts from Genesis by Phil Erickson with 6 comments.
Read the “0112 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“And he heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, Jacob hath taken away all that was our father’s; and of that which was our father’s hath he gotten all this glory.” (Genesis 31:1)
The dictionary would define perspective as “a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view” (Apple Dictionary)
In the very first verse of our text today in Genesis 31, we see that Laban and his sons had a completely different perspective or point of view than Jacob did. From Laban’s family’s perspective, Jacob had received all of his prosperity from Laban: that Jacob had actually taken it from him and his other sons. From their point of view, Jacob owed them greatly. However, Jacob had a completely different perspective. He saw things in a completely different way than Laban and his boys. Jacob’s side of the story was that Laban’s family did not have very much when Jacob joined them, and because of the hard work and blessing of God upon Jacob, God had increased both Laban and Jacob tremendously. We know from the text that Jacob’s perspective was right:
” … for I have seen all that Laban doeth unto thee.” (Genesis 31:12)
My point, however, is that Laban and Jacob had completely different perspectives on the exact same set of circumstances. It is like those pictures that were circulating around the internet a while back. The image would be of a dress, and some people would sware that the dress was green, and others were absolutely positive that it was another color. People often see things from different perspectives.
Again, we know that Jacob’s particular point of view in this case was the accurate one according to God, but that does not change the fact that Laban’s sons truly believed that they were right also. They were not, but they thought they were. They could not see things from Jacob’s persepective. Oftentimes, people see things through the lense of what is in their best interest. Jacob was benefiting more than the sons of Laban were from the arrangement that Laban made with Jacob, so they naturally thought that somehow something was amiss; they thought Jacob must have been stealing from them, which simply was not true.
There are a couple of lessons here that I think we need to learn. First, when it comes to conflicts between two people who are, in most areas, likeminded, there needs to be a sincere attempt to try to understand the other’s perspective: try to see things from their point of view. Oftentimes, if an open mind is kept, conflicts can be easily resolved.
However, when trying to understand people who come from a completely different perspective, a little more care will have to be taken. Christians have a God perspective; especially those believers who are well-grounded in the Scriptures. We see things from God’s perspective (at least for the most part). The lost world and even some carnal Christians have a totally different perspective, partially because of the fact that they have been blinded to spiritual Truth. Satan has blinded them:
“In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)
The lost world believes that Christians are foolish for believing what we do. They simply do not understand us:
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)
As believers, we need to try to understand that the problem is a spiritual one. We are simply living in two different worlds; we have totally different mindsets or paradigms. There needs to be a paradigm shift. We need to pray that God will open their eyes to the Truth of the gospel. If they were to get saved, the problem of different perspectives would be solved. Like you, I get very frustrated watching and listening to the politicians and television personalities who “simply don’t get it.” But, they can’t get it because right now they are blind to the Truth. God needs to open their eyes. We need to pray for them, and compassionately love them and try to preach the Truth to them.
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 4 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Isaiah 40:31
“25 And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?” (Genesis 29:25)
“7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)
Today’s passage reveals the principle of sowing and reaping. Jacob, whose name means “supplanter” or “deceiver,” had been guilty of deceiving his father Isaac and his brother Esau back in chapter twenty-seven. Now in chapter twenty-nine, the shoe is on the other foot. In this passage we see that Jacob who had deceived his father is now being deceived himself. He had left Canaan (Israel) and travelled back to the place where his family originated (near Babylon) in order to escape the wrath of his brother and also find a wife. He arrives and meets a beautiful young lady named Rachel who happened to be his cousin (OK back in those days – really wierd today). He falls in love with her and strikes a bargain with her father (his uncle) to work for him for seven years as payment for his daughter. Oh how I wish that we still followed this program today. I have three beutiful daughters and I would have been rich. Anyway, after his seven years of hard labor is completed, Jacob wants his wife. However, when he wakes up in the morning after the wedding celebration the night before, he does not find beautiful Rachel lying next to him in the bed, but instead he sees Leah, Rachel’s older sister. You can imagine the surprise that must have been on his face when he laid eyes on Leah who the Bible describes as “tender-eyed”. That was the phrase you used in Bible days when you wanted to be kind when describing someone who was ugly. Jacob was tricked by his uncle Laban. The deceiver was deceived.
I have two thoughts regarding this passage of Scripture. The first is the principle of sowing and reaping. Jacob reaped deception because he was a sower of deception. In fact, I think we learn in the coming chapters that Jacob reaps a little more than he sowed regarding deceiving and being deceived. We sure have to be careful in our lives because this principle is certainly in effect today as well. The Bible says be sure your sin will find you out; and the way of the transgressor is hard. It will eventually come back to bite you. I have seen this principle often in my life and ministry. Many of the problems that I have dealt with as a pastor have been areas where I have been guilty in the past. However, the principle works for good things as well as bad. Sow some good things in your life and you will reap some good things back. Sow a little mercy toward others and you will reap a little mercy from others. Sow a little kindness, and reap a little kindness; sow a little compassion, and you will reap a little compassion. You get the idea.
The second thought is that you cannot trust the world. Laban was not a saved man, and Jacob was trusting him to be faithful and trustworthy in his dealings with him. Laban is a type of the devil. If you make a deal with the devil or the world for Rachel, you are going to wake up someday with Leah. Satan is a liar, and this world is completely out for itself. Even God’s people can be downright untrustworthy at times, but know this: you can trust God completely. He will always deliver what he promises, and He will always do right. Even when we don’t understand what He is doing, or why, we can be assured that He loves us and that He has our best interests in mind.
One added thought regarding sowing and reaping. Praise God, for the Christian, we will never reap in judgement what we sow in our lifetimes in sin. We deserve to reap Hell for eternity, but Jesus took that punishment for us by going to the Cross. So, in the most important sense, Jesus reaped what we sow. What an awesome God we serve!
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 4 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 48:1 & 2
Read the “0110 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“5 And Rebekah heard when Isaac spake to Esau his son. And Esau went to the field to hunt for venison, and to bring it. 6 And Rebekah spake unto Jacob her son, saying, Behold, I heard thy father speak unto Esau thy brother, saying, 7 Bring me venison, and make me savoury meat, that I may eat, and bless thee before the LORD before my death. 8 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice according to that which I command thee. 9 Go now to the flock, and fetch me from thence two good kids of the goats; and I will make them savoury meat for thy father, such as he loveth: 10 And thou shalt bring it to thy father, that he may eat, and that he may bless thee before his death. 11 And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man: 12 My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver; and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing. 13 And his mother said unto him, Upon me be thy curse, my son: only obey my voice, and go fetch me them. 14 And he went, and fetched, and brought them to his mother: and his mother made savoury meat, such as his father loved. 15 And Rebekah took goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them upon Jacob her younger son: 16 And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck: 17 And she gave the savoury meat and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob.” (Genesis 27:5-17)
I have considered these two chapters from our reading today for many years and have previously written on many different aspects of this story involving Jacob and Esau. We have in the past covered the carnality of Isaac and the deception of Jacob but my thought this morning is on Rebekah.
In chapter twenty-seven, we have the story of Jacob tricking his father into giving him the blessing that was intended for his brother Esau. He did this by disguising himself and pretending to be his brother, even going as far as wearing goatskin on his hands to deceive his father who was old and could not see very well. But Jacob did not come up with this idea on his own; the plot was actually hatched by Rebekah, Jacob and Esau’s mother, and Isaac’s wife. It seems a little bizarre to me that this scheme could really work. What I mean is that surely Isaac would eventually discover the truth, which in my mind should nullify any blessing that was pronounced upon Jacob. It seems to me that Isaac could have just renounced the blessing once he found out that he was tricked, but apparently that is not the way it worked in Bible times. I am reminded of the covenant that Joshua made with the Gibeonites after being tricked by them. God expected Israel to honor that covenant even though they were deceived into making it (see Joshua 9:3 – 15). In both of these cases, however, the deception could have been prevented had both Joshua and Isaac consulted the Lord before opening their mouths. And in our story here, I am very sure that God would have stopped Rebekah also had she prayed about it before deceiving her husband. God may also have stopped her husband from what he was about to do had she prayed.
Personally, I cannot agree with some who have said that what Rebekah did was right in the eyes of God. Their reasoning is that because God had pronounced at the time of the birth of the twins (Genesis 25:23) that the elder (Esau) would serve the younger (Jacob). The theory is that Rebekah was attempting to assist the ultimate will of God by plotting and implementing a plan to deceive her husband. In other words, Rebekah did something wrong in order to accomplish something that was good. But isn’t that situational ethics? Is it ever right to do something wrong in order to accomplish something that is right? That is a hard question. The biblical example of the Rahab the harlot lying to the leaders of Jericho regarding the Israelite spies that she had hidden on her roof comes to mind (see Joshua 2). God commended her for what she did and she is even included in the lineage of Christ (see Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25; Matthew 1:5). There is also the example of the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah who refused to kill the male babies at their births as the Egyptian government instructed and then lied to Pharaoh about how they survived (Exodus 1:15 – 22). Peter and John also disobeyed the command of the religious authority about preaching the gospel because the commandment of God was higher than the commandment of men (Acts 5:29).
However, I do not think that Rebekah’s case is the same as Rahab’s or the case of the midwives. First, Rebekah was not a harlot from a heathen city; she was the wife of a man who knew the Lord and surely came to know the Lord herself. The Lord had spoken directly to her when her twins were born (Genesis 25:23). She knew that lying was wrong and she also knew that she should have been in submission to her husband instead of deceiving him and plotting against what he was trying to do. Now, I do believe that she could have spoken up to her husband and strongly reminded him of what God had told her about their sons. And, she should have prayed fervently about the situation to the Lord. The Lord was not dependent upon the sinful actions of Rebekah to accomplish His will. Esau was going to serve Jacob regardless of what Rebekah decided to do, and the descendants of Jacob (Israel) were going to be God’s chosen people.
Another sad part about this story is that as a result of what happened, Esau becomes angry and plots to kill his brother, which causes Rebekah and Isaac to send Jacob away, back to the Rebekah’s family’s homeland. Jacob would be deceived himself there by Rebekah’s brother, Laban, and will not be free to return home for many years. Rebekah would never again see the son that she loved so dearly because she would die while he was away.
What do you think? Was Rebekah right to act in the way that she did? Was she right to deceive her husband, even if it was for what she may have thought to be a good reason?
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 3 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 47:1
Read the “0109 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“12 Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him. 13 And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: 14 For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him. … 23 And he went up from thence to Beersheba. 24 And the LORD appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham’s sake. 25 And he builded an altar there, and called upon the name of the LORD, and pitched his tent there: and there Isaac’s servants digged a well. … 28 And they said, We saw certainly that the LORD was with thee: and we said, Let there be now an oath betwixt us, even betwixt us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee; … 32 And it came to pass the same day, that Isaac’s servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had digged, and said unto him, We have found water. 33 And he called it Shebah: therefore the name of the city is Beersheba unto this day.” (Genesis 26:12-14, 23-25, 28, 32-33)
In our reading today, in chapter twenty-five, we discover that Abraham took another wife, Keturah, after the death of Sarah and they will have six more children who will ultimately receive gifts from Abraham upon his death, but the majority of Abraham’s estate will be given to Isaac. Abraham also sends them away from Isaac unto the “east country” presumably to prevent any conflict that might arise between them and Isaac.
In chapter twenty-six, we learn of the death of Abraham at the ripe old age of 175, and also the births of Isaac’s two sons, Esau and Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when his wife, Rebekah, had these twins.
In this chapter, the focus is now on Isaac and his family. We see that Isaac, like his father and all of us, had his struggles with sin. Like Abraham, he lied about his wife and told the Abimelech, the king of the Philistines, that she was his sister. God, in His grace, blessed Isaac in spite of his flaws and reaffirms the covenant to him that he originally made with Abraham (Genesis 26:2 – 5).
In verses 12 – 14, we read about the abundant blessing of the Lord upon Isaac and his family. While he sojourned in the land of the Philistines God had increased his wealth “an hundredfold,” but Isaac’s prosperity also caused the Philistines to envy him. They did everything in their power to hurt Isaac. They filled in some of his wells with earth, and for others they strove with him, stealing the water from him. You will notice, however, that there is nothing recorded here about Isaac fighting back. It seems that he just kept moving away from the strife and continued digging new wells until he finally gets to a place where they no longer fight with him. Abimelech recognizes the hand of God upon Isaac and at first drives him away but finally concedes and makes a covenant of peace with him. They each promise that they will not hurt one another in the future.
The chapter closes up at a place called Beersheba, which means “the well of a seven-fold oath.” This is the place where Abraham also made a covenant with Abimelech back in Genesis 21 after he also had some conflict with him over a well. Abraham also planted a grove there and called upon God:
“33 And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God.” (Genesis 21:33)
Isaac learned a lot from his father Abraham. He learned to lie, which was not good; but he also learned to get along with his neighbors and, most importantly, he learned how to walk with God. God appears to Isaac in Beersheba and reaffirms the Abrahamic Covenant with him. Isaac builds there an altar to the Lord similar to the grove that Abraham had planted. You will notice that Isaac also dug a well in Beersheba as Abraham had done, but at first there is no water, but after the covenant is made with Abimelech and the altar is made to God, Isaac’s servants report that they had found water.
God’s hand was certainly upon Isaac at this point in his life. Apart from lying to Abimelech about his wife early in the chapter, Isaac is doing the right things. He is trusting in the Lord and he is trying to get along with the people of the land. Even though they are fighting him, he is resisting the temptation to fight back. He kept searching until he found a place where he could prosper. He found the place of God’s will, and that’s the place where he found water.
If you have not yet found the place of God’s will, keep digging wells until you find it. If you know you are where God wants you to be (Isaac was – see Genesis 26:3), and you are doing what God wants you to do, keep digging until you hit water.
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 3 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 34:6
Read the “0108 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“1 And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.” (Genesis 24:1)
“22 The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” (Proverbs 10:22)
Once again, I am having a hard time deciding what to write about from these rich chapters from Genesis. As I read through these two chapters in the Bible reading schedule this morning, I considered quite a few ideas that could have been developed for today’s devotion. Some of these thoughts I have already considered in previous posts (see above links), and others I need to give some more consideration to before I write about them. These chapters in Genesis are full of great pictures of Christ as well as many wonderful foundational truths, and it benefits all of us to slow down and carefully read each verse.
My thought from the passage surrounds Genesis 24:1. “the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things.” What a privilege it is to have God’s abundant riches and blessings bestowed upon our lives. To some degree, all of us on this earth are recipients of blessing of God. We all eat the food that God provides and we all drink His water. Most of us, especially here in America, live very comfortable lives and enjoy the many good things that God provides. However, the blessings referred to here in this passage go beyond what most people in the world experience. Abraham had God’s abundant provision, protection, and guidance throughout his life; much more so than others.
In today’s reading, in chapter 23, we see that Abraham needed a burying place for his wife Sarah. He wanted to acquire a small piece of land in Hebron that would be a cemetery of sorts so that he could bury his wife at that time, but could also be used as a burying place for future generations. Not only did God grant favor for Abraham in the eyes of Ephron, the Hittite owner of the land, but Ephron even offered to give it Abraham for free, which Abraham refused. I am reminded of a similar situation in 2 Samuel 24 where David was purchasing the threshing floor of Arunah the Jebusite, which would eventually become the place where Israel’s Temple would be placed. Arunah was willing to give David the piece of ground for free, along with the wood and oxen needed for a burnt offering, but David insisted on paying for it. The point is that these non-Israelite men (Ephron and Arenas) were willing to give property of great value to Abraham and David because they recognized God’s grace upon them.
This is quite a contrast to what we often see today. Too many people, and unfortunately, many preachers, are often always asking and trying to get people to give them stuff. I have had more than one preacher ask me to “pray about” some need that they had. I may be a little bit cynical, but I could not help but wonder if their “prayer request” was really just their attempt to get me (or our church) to buy it for them. Abraham and David were both so blessed by God that they didn’t need a handout and also insisted that they pay themselves for what they wanted or needed, and would not allow the former owners to give it for free.
Another thought that crossed my mind as I was considering this topic is this: why were Abraham, David and others like them so blessed of God? There is no doubt in my mind that they were blessed for two reasons: First, they were men of great faith; they believed God:
“6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” (Galatians 3:6)
Secondly, their faith was evidenced by the fact that they obeyed God. Of course, neither Abraham nor David were perfect, in the sense that they never disobeyed the Lord, but their lives were characterized by the fact that they both desired to live for the Lord and please him. Most of the time they got it right, and as a result, God blessed them abundantly.
I want to have that kind of blessing upon my life, upon my family, and also upon my ministry. Notice again the verse from Proverbs:
“22 The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” (Proverbs 10:22)
Often, when we try to force or finagle good things to happen in our lives, there will be guilt associated with it. But when God is blessing us and making us rich, there is no guilt. And by the way, this is not just talking about monetary blessings or possessions. God is good to us and blesses us in so many ways. I remember once having dinner with a preacher friend, and he said something to me that at first surprised me. He said: “Brother Erickson, you are one of the richest men I know.” At first, I thought he was crazy because I certainly was not “rich” in possessions. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that he was right. God has been very good to me. I have always had every need provided for me; I have a wonderful wife and family; good friends who would take a bullet for me; and a great church family to serve with. God is good!
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 5 comments.
Read the “0107 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 34
“1 And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken. 2 For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. 3 And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac. 4 And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him. 5 And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him. 6 And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me. 7 And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age.” (Genesis 21:1-7)
God had been promising Abraham that he would give him a son for a long time. Abraham was seventy-five years old when he left Haran, after his father Terah died. At that time God had promised Abram that He would make of him a great nation and when he arrived in Canaan, God promised that He would give Abraham’s “seed” the land (Genesis 12:1 – 8) God reaffirmed the promise in Genesis 13:15 after Lot had departed from him and there He promises Abram that He would make his seed as “the dust of the earth.” God reminded Abraham of the promise again after Abram rescued Lot from the four kings who attacked Sodom (Genesis 15:1 – 6), and there we are told that Abraham believed the promise:
“4 And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. 5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. 6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.“ (Genesis 15:4-6)
Abram and Sarai get out of the will of God and try to make God’s will happen by allowing Abram to sleep with Sarai’s Egyptian handmaid Hagar, which resulted in the birth of Ismael. Abram was eighty-six at this time, which was eleven years after God had originally promised him a son. I am sure Abram and Sarai thought that God surely was not going to give them a child through Sarai as she was beyond the normal child-bearing years. She would have been seventy-six at this time. So, they figured that God must have meant that a surrogate mother would give Abram the promised “seed.”
Practical Point – Make sure that you have clarity from God before you make any major decisions. Do not just assume that you know what God wants. God will clearly reveal His precise will to you through the Word of God, prayer, godly counsel, and often – waiting on the Lord!
In Genesis 17, when Abram is ninety-nine, God reaffirms that Abram will have a son through Sarai. By the way, it is here in this chapter that God changes Abram’s name to Abraham, meaning “father of many nations,” and Sarai’s name to Sarah, meaning “princess.” Abraham laughs when God verifies this because it would surely be miraculous for Sarah to bear children at her age and after she had been barren. I think that Abraham might have been a little upset about the fact that God was not considering Ishmael to be part of His promise (Genesis 17:18).
In Genesis 18, God appears to Abraham again with two angels, and this time has dinner with him. Here God once again reaffirms his promise regarding Sarah bearing a child, and this time it is Sarah that laughs. God rebukes her for being faithless and Sarah denies that she laughed, but the Lord obviously knew even the secret thoughts of Sarah’s heart.
In our passage today in Genesis 21, Abraham and Sarah finally receive the long-awaited child of promise, Isaac. It was just twenty-five years after God had originally promised him. Abraham was now one hundred years old, and Sarah was ninety-one.
Here is my thought. God rarely operates on our timetable. Sometimes we expect immediate blessing from the Lord and instantaneous answers to our prayers, but God does not often work that way. I have been a pastor here at Jersey Shore for twenty-two years now. I honestly expected God to move a lot faster than he did in the ministry here. I thought we would have had thousands of people and many large buildings by now, but it did not work that way, and it probably will never happen as I anticipated. God is doing what He wants to do, and He is doing it in His time. We just have to be faithful to keep doing what God has called us to do and allow Him to bring the increase when and if He is ready. I have discovered that the Christian life, and particular the ministry, is not about the short-term but instead about the long haul. God has blessed and is continuing, and will continue to bless in His time.
How about you? Had you been waiting for God to do something for a long time and have since given up hope. Unless God has revealed to you a change of plans, just keep praying and keep serving, and be patient as you wait for God to do His will.
Posted in Devotions, Thoughts from Genesis by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.