Watch God be God

Today’s Reading: Genesis 23-24

What if we were able to simply watch God be God today? What if we entered into our day WILLING, PREPARED, EQUIPPED and STRATEGICALLY POSITIONED to allow God to use us for His purposes and His plan? I wonder what kind of success we would experience if we took time to pray specifically for what is ahead. As we continue our study of Abraham, let’s consider what God can do when we enter our day with intentionality and the heart of a servant.

Sarah died at age 127. Abraham bought a plot of land surrounding a cave so that he could have a permanent burial place for his family. He, too, was getting up in age and it was time for him to find a wife for Isaac. He did not want Isaac to marry a local Canaanite woman, so he asked his oldest servant, the man in charge of his household, to travel back to his homeland to find Isaac a wife.

So the servant took an oath by putting his hand under the thigh of his master, Abraham. He swore to follow Abraham’s instructions. Then he loaded ten of Abraham’s camels with all kinds of expensive gifts from his master, and he traveled to distant Aram-naharaim. Then he went to the town where Abraham’s brother Nahor had settled. He made the camels kneel beside a well just outside the town. It was evening and the women were coming out to draw water. – Genesis 24:9-11

When asked to perform this important task for his master, Abraham’s servant was WILLING, he was PREPARED and he left EQUIPPED to do what he had been asked to do. Next he STRATEGICALLY POSITIONED himself. He was there to find a young woman, so he went to the place where the women were known to go each day and draw water for their families. Then he PRAYED to God for success.

Abraham’s servant was willing, prepared, equipped, strategically positioned and, most of all, he prayed to God for success in doing what he had been called upon to do.

“O Lord, God of my master, Abraham,” he prayed. “Please give me success today, and show unfailing love to my master, Abraham. See, I am standing here beside the spring, and the young women of the town are coming out to draw water. This is my request. I will ask one of them, ‘Please give me a drink from your jug.’ If she says, ‘Yes, have a drink, and I will water your camels, too!’ – let her be the one you have selected as Isaac’s wife. This is how I will know that you have shown unfailing love to my master.” – Genesis 24:12-14

Abraham’s servant had been entrusted with a great responsibility. When it came time for him to carry out Abraham’s request, he asked God to be the one to give him success. His heart was genuine. He did not want success for his own merit but out of love for His master. And the Spirit compelled him to pray specifically.

Before he had finished praying…
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Before the words were completely out of his mouth, God specifically answered his prayer!

Before he had finished praying, he saw a young woman named Rebekah coming out with her water jug on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel, who was the son of Abraham’s brother, Nahor and his wife, Milcah. Rebekah was very beautiful and old enough to be married, but she was still a virgin. She went down to the spring, filled her jug, and came up again. Running over to her, the servant said, “Please give me a little drink of water from your jug.”

“Yes, my lord,” she answered, “have a drink.” And she quickly lowered her jug from her shoulder and gave him a drink. When she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels, too, until they have had enough to drink.” – Genesis 24:15-19

Now my study Bible says that ten thirsty camels could drink as much as 250 gallons of water. This generous offer of Rebekah’s showed she was hard-working and hospitable. By remaining a virgin, Rebekah was also AVAILABLE for God’s plan for her life.

The servant waited patiently, watching God be God – taking in the moment when God was answering his prayer and making his journey successful. He then took time to praise God and to give honor to the God who had led him on this journey. Because he obeyed when God called him, this servant had a front row seat to simply watch God be God.

The man bowed low and worshiped the Lord. “Praise the Lord, the God of my master, Abraham,” he said. The Lord has shown unfailing love and faithfulness to my master, for he has led me straight to my master’s relatives.” – Genesis 24:26-27

The servant gave Rebekah a gold nose ring and two large gold bracelets for her wrists. Rebekah brought the servant back to her family and her brother immediately noticed the value of the gifts. The servant testified how God had given him success in what he had been sent to do.

Delayed obedience is disobedience. Rebekah’s family wanted her to wait 10 days before leaving but the servant did not want to delay the completion of his mission. Rebekah recognized the hand of God on her life and willingly went with the servant right away, rather than taking the time to say goodbye to her family as was traditionally allowed.

I love this next part because I have experienced it firsthand: It was while spending time alone in God’s presence that Isaac looked up and saw Rebekah. I love how our faithful God speaks to us and moves in our lives during our quiet times with Him. I believe there was no doubt in Isaac’s mind and no wavering of Rebekah’s heart that God had chosen to join them together for His purposes and His plan.

Lord, we pause and wait patiently for you. We take time this morning to pray and to praise. We are willing to be used by you today. Lord, prepare and equip us to accomplish your will. Give us wisdom to know where to strategically position ourselves and how to pray specifically. Speak to us and give us an unwavering obedient heart for you. We love you and we praise you for your unfailing love and faithfulness towards us each day. You are the God who provides and we look forward to watching you simply be God today. Amen.

The Lord Will Provide

Today’s Reading: Genesis 20-22

My heart goes out to Hagar as I read today’s passage. She foolishly made fun of Sarah’s son, Isaac, and in response Sarah demanded Hagar and her son, Ishmael, be sent away. Abraham loved Ishmael but obeyed when God told him to do as Sarah had asked. Hagar wandered aimlessly in the wilderness, soon running out of the food and water Abraham had given them. She laid her son under the shade of a bush and then walked away, unable to watch him die.

“Hagar, what’s wrong? Do not be afraid! God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Go to him and comfort him for I will make a great nation from his descendants.” Then God opened Hagar’s eyes, and she saw a well full of water. She quickly filled her container and gave the boy a drink. And God was with the boy as he grew up in the wilderness. – Genesis 21:17b-20a


This may seem like an obvious statement but definitely one I need to remind myself of often, especially concerning my girls. The fear of everything that could go wrong threatens to paralyze me. I worry they will get in a car accident, I worry they will get sick, I worry they will get their hearts broken and I worry about the day they will move out of our house. I know there is joy in watching God’s plan for their lives roll out but it takes courage to daily place them in God’s hands.

No matter how excited we are about what God has for our children, no matter how long we have planned for each next step, no matter how much we have prepared for this moment – there is nothing easy about letting go of our children and trusting God with what comes next. As parents we must daily place these precious gifts from God back into the hands of the God who provides.

Abraham would understand just how hard a task this is. But Abraham would also understand how it is the same God who blesses us with children in the first place who asks us to trust Him with what comes next – to do anything God would ask us to do with the blessings He has provided for us.

Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called.

“Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.”

“Take your son, your only son – yes, Isaac, whom you love so much – and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.”

The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day of their journey, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. “Stay here with the donkey,” Abraham told his servants. “The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.” – Genesis 22:1-5

God promised Abraham that he would have countless descendants. Isaac was the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, yet God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. I would have reacted with confusion and a lot of emotion, but that is not how Abraham displayed his faith. He trusted God to provide and faithfully, without hesitation, walked up the mountain with his greatest possession – his son.

So Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s shoulders, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them walked on together, Isaac turned to Abraham and said, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“We have the fire and the wood,” the boy said, “but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?”

God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together.

When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. At that moment the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am.”

“Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”

Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the Lord will provide”). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” – Genesis 22:6-14

The Lord provided. These words hold such power over our current situations. To know with confidence that God keeps His promises, and to know that He provides for the fulfillment of those promises – this is the knowledge that keeps us going when it seems like life is moving too fast.


I can trust God with my marriage, my family, my job, my money, my health, my friends, my future. God sees our situation and hears our cries. Do not be afraid! God will provide.

It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead. – Hebrews 11:17-19

Here I am, Lord. Show me this morning what I am clinging to that has never been mine to begin with. Remind me of your provisions and give me the strength to trust you with what comes next. I thank you for the abundant blessings you so generously extend to me every day. I place EVERYTHING on the altar and I choose to listen to your voice. Yahweh-Yireh – the Lord will provide.

A Choice Was Made

Today’s Reading: Genesis 18:16-19:38

In the Bible, when someone had a decision to make, they would often “cast lots” to determine the will of God. They would do this by throwing sticks or stones with markings on them. In essence, they would use a game of chance similar to flipping a coin or rolling the dice to determine which direction they should go or what should happen. This is referred to 77 times in the Bible. Thankfully we have the Holy Spirit now to direct us when we have a choice to make.

Consistent with his name, Lot (Abraham’s nephew) had a series of decisions to make. Now God had blessed both Abraham and Lot with a large possession of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, and tents. Things were getting crowded and so Abraham offered to Lot his choice of land.


“The whole countryside is open to you. Take your choice of any section of the land you want, and we will separate. If you want the land to the left, then I’ll take the land on the right. If you prefer the land on the right, then I’ll go to the left.” – Gen. 13:9

When given a choice, Lot chose the Jordan Valley, an area that was fertile and therefore would make him very wealthy. He moved his tents to a place near Sodom and settled among the cities of the plain. Now here is the significance of his decision. This area was known for the extreme wickedness of the people living there. They had a reputation of constantly sinning against the Lord, yet Lot was drawn to what this area had to offer him (riches) and he made a choice to live among this sinful society.


Soon after that, a war broke out between nine kings. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were plundered and Lot was taken hostage along with all of his household and many others. Abraham gathered together his men and rescued Lot from the mess he had gotten himself into. Rather than starting a new life in a new area, Lot chose to return to life as he knew it – back in Sodom where the people went right back to their sinful ways.

Now when the three visitors came to Abraham with the promise that Sarah would have a baby in about a year, the Lord also had a message for Abraham regarding the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah. Both cities had become very flagrant in their sin and God was ready to destroy them.


Abraham had concern for the residents of these cities and asked God if He would spare the cities if He found 50 people who were righteous. God agreed. Abraham asked if He would spare the cities if He found 45 righteous people. God agreed. What about 40? Yes, 40. What about 30? Yes, 30. Abraham boldly asked God if He would spare the cities if he found 20 righteous people. For the sake of 20, God agreed He would spare the cities. Abraham asked God for one more number – would he spare the cities for 10? God stated He would hold back his judgment if He found even as small of a number as 10 righteous people.

Notice the difference between uncle and nephew. Lot was drawn to the sinfulness of society while Abraham was concerned for the fate of the lost. Lot blended in with the sinful people while Abraham separated himself and prayed to the Lord for those condemned to judgment.


Two angels came to Lot in Sodom. They warned him of the coming destruction of the city and told Lot to get out of the city. The next morning, Lot was still there. The angels insisted Lot take his family and leave Sodom immediately. Lot hesitated and the angels had to drag Lot and his family to safety.

When they were safely out of the city, one of the angels ordered, “Run for your lives! And don’t look back or stop anywhere in the valley! Escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away!” – Genesis 19:17

He was being warned to run from sin and wickedness but Lot chose to stay close to the sinful life he had come to know. Lot’s wife looked back on the city as it was being destroyed and she turned into a pillar of salt. The verb used here indicates she cast more than a curious glance. She gazed intensely for a prolonged period. She was too attached to sin to respond to God’s gracious mercy. She chose to focus on what this sinful world had to offer her instead of the gift of life God was extending to her.


These people are as useless as dried-up springs or as mist blown away by the wind. They are doomed to blackest darkness. They brag about themselves with empty, foolish boasting. With an appeal to twisted sexual desires, they lure back into sin those who have barely escaped from a lifestyle of deception. They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you. And when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before. It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life. They prove the truth of this proverb: “A dog returns to its vomit.” And another says, “A washed pig returns to the mud.” – 2 Peter 2:17-22

God, reveal in us any love we might have for the sinful ways of the world we live in. Reveal the choices we daily make and do a work in our hearts. Lord, help us to see this world and be concerned for their sin, rather than drawn into its corruption. We choose freedom in knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ rather than being a slave to the sin that seeks to control us. We answer your call to live a holy life and choose to walk in the way of righteousness – fill us with your righteousness we pray. Amen.


All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. – Hebrews 11:13-16

God’s Will God’s Way in God’s Time

Today’s Reading: Genesis 15-18:15

It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith – for he was a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God. – Hebrews 11:8-10

Abram’s life is a great example to us of what it means to daily obey and submit to God’s plan, following Him wherever He leads. Sometimes this means leaving “home” like Abraham and sometimes it means a career change, going back to school, a new ministry position, etc. Responding in obedience to God’s call requires a great amount of faith, which is exactly what Abram had. But Abram also had to deal with some fear. He had to learn how to trust God to protect him and to fulfill His promises.


Some time later, the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.” But Abram replied, “O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. You have given me no descendants of my own, so one of my servants will be my heir.” – Genesis 15:1-3

God promised Abram that his descendants would be as numerous as the dust of the earth (13:16), but Abram was confused by the fact that he was still without a son of his own. He called God “Sovereign Lord” showing that he recognized God was in charge. God reminded him – My will, my way, in my time. God confirmed his promise again to Abram, telling him his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky (15:5).

And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith. – Gen. 15:6

God reminded Abram that the promise for his descendants included the promise for a territory or inheritance. Abram’s response – “O Sovereign Lord, how can I be sure that I will actually possess it?” Abram again recognizes that God is in charge and God again confirms his promise (15:8,18-19).

The Scriptures say that Abraham had two sons, one from his slave wife and one from his freeborn wife. The son of the slave wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born out of God’s own fulfillment of his promise. – Galatians 4:22-23


At times our faith is handicapped by our fear. We believe in God’s promises but we panic and attempt to force God’s plan into action. Sarai tried to force God’s will her own way in her own time by having Abram lay with her servant girl, Hagar.

My heart goes out to Hagar, a young Egyptian girl who for some reason had become a slave to foreigners instead of living out her own dreams of a husband and family. Now she was being forced to have sexual relations with her master. Hagar’s fear grew into anger when she realized she was pregnant with his child. Sarai’s fear turned into jealousy and she began to treat her servant harshly.

Hagar ran away, leaving the safety of the camp. She found herself sitting by a spring of water in the wilderness but she was not alone. “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?” (16:8). God SAW Hagar’s pain and met with her, but sent her back to Sarai. It was not time for her to leave. God made it clear – My will, my way, my time.

There have been too many times in my life when I, like Sarai, have made a human attempt to force God’s hand and made a mess of things. What a great reminder this morning that God has a plan, God has a way and God has His own timing. I can rest and relax in His Sovereignty!

“I am El-Shaddai – ‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants.” – Genesis 17:1-2

God again confirmed His promise to Abram. He changed his name to Abraham, which means ‘father of many’ and changed Sarai’s name to Sarah, stating He would bless her richly and make her the mother of many nations. At ages 100 and 90, what God was promising seemed humanly impossible but God is Sovereign and for Him nothing is impossible.


Abram loved Ishmael and asked God to fulfill His promise through his son. This was God’s response:

God’s will: “No – Sarah, your wife will give birth to a son for you. You will name him Isaac, and I will confirm my covenant with him and his descendants as an everlasting covenant…” (17:19).
God’s way: “But my covenant will be confirmed with Isaac, who will be born to you and Sarah…” (17:21)
God’s time: “…about this time next year” (17:21)

Three men appeared to Abraham one day to once again confirm God’s promise (possibly the Lord and two angels): “I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!” (18:10). Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent and laughed silently to herself saying, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master – my husband – is also so old?” (18:12)

Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” – Genesis 18:13-14

Sarah struggled in her faith but she did not stay in that struggle. It is possible that Sarah always looked back with regret at her initial response to God’s promise and to the mess she made when she tried to force God’s promise through her servant, Hagar. But she did not stay in the struggle to believe or the shame of her mess. Listen to what the writer of Hebrews says about this woman loved by God.

It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise. And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead – a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them. – Hebrews 11:11-12

What a great reminder to start off my day! With a hot cup of morning coffee on this cold morning and a word from the Lord, I’m eager to face what is ahead. All of the HOW questions rattling around in my brain have the same answer – God’s will, God’s way, and in God’s time.

El-Shaddai, I place my day in your hands.
God Almighty, I place my life in your hands.
Sovereign Lord, I let go and let you decide what happens from here.
I long to experience your will, your way, in your time. Amen.

Believing God’s Promise

Today’s Reading: Genesis 11:27 – 14:24

We started off this chronological journey through the Bible by looking at Jeremiah 17:7-8. These verses compare the one who trusts in the Lord to a tree with roots that REACH deep into the water. My heart responds to God’s call to REACH towards Him this year. He is challenging me to abide in Him, to dig deeper and to soak in His presence each day.

As I study His word, I am growing in my relationship with Him and He is teaching me through HIS story wrapped up in the stories of His people. Today, we begin our study of Abram (Abraham) – a story that has taught me so much about God’s promises, God’s protection and God’s provision. Now from the descendants of Noah’s son Shem came a man named Terah, who was the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran. After Terah died, the Lord spoke to Abram giving him instructions and a promise.


“Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” – Genesis 12:1-3

Leave and go where I show you to go – This first element of God’s promise requires more than just initial obedience, it requires continual obedience and submission – daily following wherever God leads. It is not enough that I followed obediently yesterday; I must continue to follow in obedience today. Abram did this and received confirmation of the PROMISE (12:7).

I will make you into a great nation and bless you – This PROMISE has great significance to Abram because his wife, Sarai, has been unable to become pregnant and they have no children (11:30). When God makes a PROMISE, we can trust Him for PROVISION. So if God was promising descendants, Abram simply needed to trust that God would provide children to Abram and Sarai. So accepting God’s promise requires daily obedience and willingness to follow God wherever He leads, and it requires a huge amount of faith.


You will be a blessing to others…all the families on earth will be blessed through you – This promise was not just about Abram and for the benefit of Abram. It was much larger than that. There were so many other people who would be blessed through this promise, so many others relying on Abram’s faith in God and his decision to obey. Who is relying on our faithful obedience today? Are we living with the realization that our decisions today could affect someone else tomorrow?

For Abraham is the father of all who believe…Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping – believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead – and so was Sarah’s womb.

Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever He promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God. – Romans 4:16b-25


I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt – God promises PROTECTION of Abram and guardianship of His promise. Unfortunately, Abram did not remember this part of the promise when he arrived with Sarai and his nephew Lot (Haran’s son) in Egypt.

There was a severe famine, forcing Abram to go to Egypt to find food. Now Sarai was very beautiful and Abram feared the Egyptians would kill him in order to have her. Instead of relying on God to fulfill His promise, Abram took matters into his own hands and deceived the Egyptians by telling them Sarai was his sister – which was true (20:12) but he failed to mention she was also his wife. God had promised to protect Abram but Abram still felt the need to protect himself through deception.

Everyone did notice Sarai’s beauty and she was taken to Pharoah to be his wife. Terrible plagues came upon Pharoah and his household because of Sarai’s presence. Pharoah gave her back to Abram and commanded him to leave Egypt – the place they had fled to in order to survive the famine.

Abram left Egypt and traveled to the region between Bethel and Ai. Their group was quite large so Abram offered to split the land with Lot, giving Lot the first choice of which land he wanted. “If you want the land to the left, then I’ll take the land on the right. If you prefer the land on the right, then I’ll go to the left.” (Genesis 13:9)

Now all the land to the east of them in the Jordan Valley was fertile and well watered, obviously the best choice of land. Perhaps Abram has learned something from his journey through Egypt. He knows that it is not the land itself that will bless him but that God will bless him, regardless of which piece of land he gets. After Lot chose the better half, the Lord confirmed his promise to Abram a third time:

“Look as far as you can see in EVERY direction – north and south, east and west. I am giving all this land, as far as you can see, to you and your descendants as a permanent possession. And I will give you so many descendants that, like the dust of the earth, they cannot be counted! Go and walk through the land in every direction, for I am giving it to you.” – Genesis 13:14-17

There was a battle between the kings in the surrounding nations and Lot was captured in the battle (14:1-24). Abram rescued Lot, as well as many others who had been caught in the conflict. The king of Sodom was so grateful that he wanted to give all the goods captured to Abram as a gift. Just as Abram now knew that God was the source of his protection, he also knew God was the source of his blessings. He refused the gifts and kept his eyes on God – his Protector and his Provider.

Dear God, thank you for your promises. May we respond in obedience to your call on our lives, just as Abram did. May we trust you for our protection and for every blessing in life. Show us the areas of our lives in which we are taking things into our own hands, trusting in our own abilities instead of relying on you. Remind us today, oh Lord, of your many promises. Remind me that everything good in my life is not a result of my own effort, but evidence of your PROMISE, your PROTECTION and your PROVISION. Amen.

Pride Comes Before a Fall

Today’s Reading: Genesis 9:18 – 11:26

After the flood, Noah began to cultivate the ground, and he planted a vineyard. One day he drank some wine he had made, and he became drunk and lay naked inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw that his father was naked and went outside and told his brothers. – Genesis 9:20-22

This was the mistake that would change the course of Ham’s life. It was an issue of disloyalty and selfishness, the heart of gossip. Ham had the opportunity to take responsibility and cover his father. Instead of taking action out of respect for his father, Ham went outside and told his brothers, who took care of covering their father. Ham shirked his responsibility and brought shame to his father. Noah cursed Ham’s descendants to a life of servanthood (9:26-27) – if you don’t want to help take care of family, you will spend the rest of your life with no choice but to take care of others.


Ham was not the only one of Noah’s descendants to think too much of himself. Ham had four sons but it was his son Canaan on whom the curse landed. With the curse of servanthood did not come a humble spirit. The desire to be famous and rise above the curse remained. The tendency to think too much of themselves remained.

The descendants of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan…Cush was also the ancestor of Nimrod, who was the first heroic warrior on earth. Since he was the greatest hunter in the world, his name became proverbial. People would say, “This man is like Nimrod, the greatest hunter in the world.” He built his kingdom in the land of Babylonia, with the cities of Babylon, Erech, Akkad, and Calneh… – Genesis 10:6-10

Babylon became the epicenter of arrogance and idolatry. The descendants of Nimrod thought too much of themselves. Their desire was to build a name for themselves, for their own glory instead of for the glory and purposes of God. I find it ironic that today’s slang definition of “nimrod” means idiot or jerk. Nimrod found much pride in being a heroic warrior and hunter, but pride comes before a fall. Nimrod’s descendants are about to experience a fall like no other.

First pride, then the crash— the bigger the ego, the harder the fall. – Proverbs 16:18 (The Message)


At one time all the people of the world spoke the same language and used the same words. As the people migrated to the east, they found a plain in the land of Babylonia and settled there. They began saying to each other, “Let’s make bricks and harden them with fire.” (In this region bricks were used instead of stone, and tar was used for mortar.) Then they said, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.” – Genesis 11:1-4

With a shortage of stone in that area, the people used innovation and created bricks. Rather than recognizing this as a gift from God, they found excitement in the idea that they might become famous. If they could build a great tower made of bricks, the world would hear and see how wonderful they were. People would come from all around to see this tower that represented their greatness. They would become famous and there would be no need to ever leave their earthly kingdom.


Consider the sin of Adam and Eve. The serpent tempted them with the possibility of becoming like God. Eve was easily convinced by the serpent and her desire for a wisdom like God’s caused her to sin. Adam witnessed the whole thing and joined in this self-ambitious sin. They were banished from the garden, made to leave the area they had come to love.

Compare the sin of Adam & Eve to the sin of those building the tower of Babel. The people of Babylon desired to be as powerful and famous as God. Their longing for fame and fortune was stronger than their love for God. Their desire to stay there and not be scattered all over the world resulted in just that – banishment and the scattering of people across the region.

But the Lord came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. “Look!” he said. “The people are united and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.”

In that way, the Lord scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building the city. That is why the city was called Babel, because that is where the Lord confused the people with different languages. In this way he scattered them all over the world. – Genesis 11:5-9


Our salvation depends on having a humble and repentant heart. If we think too much of ourselves or of what we have accomplished, we begin to depend less on God and more on what we think we can do on our own. When we start seeing ourselves as a HERO, we soon become known as a prideful IDIOT. When confronted with temptation and sin, we arrogantly choose to build our own tower of Babel. This reminds me of the words of James, the half-brother of Jesus:

And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. – James 4:6-10


God, humble us today. May we see every good and wonderful thing in our lives as a gift from you. May every blessing be evidence of your generosity. Forgive us for our moments of pride. We long to be servants of your Kingdom rather than building our own fame and fortune. Help us to see the needs of others and respond with help rather than gossip. Help us to see every obstacle as an opportunity to see YOU glorified, not us. Amen.

His Purpose In His Time

Today’s Reading: Genesis 5:1 – 9:17

Unfortunately, like Cain, most of Adam’s descendants refused to do what is right and God did not miss a moment of their disobedience and sinful attitudes.

The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. And the Lord said, “I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing – all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them.” But Noah found favor with the Lord. – Genesis 6:5-8


God saw each decision made and every sin committed. God grieved over His creation and their lack of love for their Creator. He saw the selfish desires of their hearts and how quickly they gravitated toward evil. But He also saw the hearts of those who kept their eyes focused on Him, who chose to walk in close fellowship with God.

There are two men in the account of Adam’s descendants in chapter 5 of Genesis who were described as “walking in close fellowship with God” – Enoch and Noah. Even though their descriptions were the same, God’s response to their faithfulness was very different.

Enoch lived in close fellowship with God for another 300 years, and he had many other sons and daughters. Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him. – Genesis 5:22b-24

In comparison to the lifespan of the other descendants of Adam, Enoch lived a very short life. If we put it in our terms today, it would be like someone dying around age 40. Enoch was faithful to God and lived in close relationship with Him, but God chose to take Enoch from earth early in his life.

Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time. Like Enoch, he walked in close fellowship with God (6:9). God had a 950-year plan for Noah (9:29) – a plan to keep him on earth to accomplish God’s purpose.


Many times I have wondered why God took one of His faithful followers to be with Him instead of healing them or sparing them physical harm. God has different plans for different people and it is not always easy to understand His reasons, but we can always trust His heart. Both Enoch and Noah found favor with God, but His loving response differed from one situation to another – yet God remains the faithful. God was ready to bring Enoch home but He simply was not done with Noah.

Is there a loss in your life that you are still grieving? Perhaps this would be a good time to stop and give your pain and grief to God, trusting HIS plan and HIS love regardless of your inability to understand HIS reasons. Trust God’s heart, even when you don’t understand His plan. Know that God remains the same faithful and loving God no matter how difficult life becomes.

God chose to wipe all living creatures from the earth because of the violence that was everywhere. But, because of the faithfulness of one man, God created a plan to spare Noah and his family.

God told Noah that he was going to cover the earth with a flood. Noah had never experienced a flood but he trusted God. God told Noah to build a boat. Noah had never seen a boat but he trusted God. Everything God told him to do, Noah did exactly as God commanded him (6:22; 7:5). And everything God said He was going to do, He did – in His time.


It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith, Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith. – Hebrews 11:7

Righteousness that comes by faith – Noah was no more righteous than the next guy by his own efforts. But He chose to have faith in God and from that relationship came righteousness. God told Noah what to do and Noah’s faith gave him the courage to respond in obedience, resulting in a life reflecting the righteousness of God.

It rained for 40 days and the floodwaters covered the earth for 150 days. After 5 months, Noah released a bird to see if the floodwaters on the earth had dried up. But the bird came back because there was no place for it to land. It was not God’s time. Noah sent out a dove, but again the bird came back. It was not God’s time. Seven days later, Noah released another dove and it came back with a fresh olive leaf in its beak. It was still not God’s time but it was a sign from God that the time was drawing near. Seven days later, Noah released a third dove and it did not come back. Still Noah waited patiently for God’s instructions, which came in God’s time. Noah and his family left the boat when God said to leave the boat (Genesis 8).

God told Noah before the flood that He would confirm His covenant with Noah (6:18). The first thing Noah did after emptying the animals from the boat was to build an altar to the Lord and sacrifice burnt offerings to Him. God then spoke His covenant or promise to Noah:

“I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.” – Genesis 8:21-22

Just as He promised, God confirmed His covenant with Noah. He also gave him a sign of his covenant, a promise for all future generations to see and be reminded that GOD KEEPS HIS PROMISES. God sent a rainbow – an image of peace after the storm and a reminder of God’s eternal covenant with us.

The life we choose to live is never outside of HIS SIGHT. Our faith grows as we choose to live our life for HIS PURPOSES and trust IN HIS TIME, believing that He is a God who keeps His promises. From that faith comes the gift of His righteousness.

Father God, thank you for having a plan and a purpose that goes beyond my own understanding. Help me to daily trust you enough to wait for your perfect plan in your perfect time. Thank you for today’s reminder that you are a God who keeps His promises, a God whose heart I can trust. Amen.

Same Blame Game

Today’s Reading: Genesis 2:5-4:26

“…Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” – Genesis 4:7b

When God placed Adam in the garden, the opportunity to sin was created. God blessed Adam generously but asked for obedience in this one area – do not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good & evil. Disobedience would mean death.

God surrounded Adam with beautiful trees that produced delicious fruit (2:9). He also gave him a job to do. Now that he was done naming all of the animals, God gave Adam the responsibility of tending the garden and watching over it (2:15). So God made it clear – this is what I want you to do and this is what I do not want you to do. Tend and watch over the garden but do not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good & evil. The opportunity to sin existed BUT God had fully equipped Adam with everything that he needed to resist sin and choose life.

God saw that Adam had one more unmet need, the need for intimate companionship. God took one of Adam’s ribs and created from the rib a woman – Eve (2:22). There was now something missing from Adam that could be completed when united with his wife. This union was a beautiful thing, a gift from God, yet another opportunity to sin if not used the way God intended.

Now Adam & Eve both had a choice – to agree to do what is right or refuse to do what is right. Sin was crouching nearby, just waiting for the opportunity to control Adam and Eve. The serpent convinced Eve that there was something missing from her life, something God was withholding from her through His rules of right and wrong. Eve had a choice and she chose to be deceived by the beauty of the tree’s fruit and the desire for wisdom independent from God. SHE SAW…SHE WANTED…SHE TOOK…AND ATE (3:6). Adam watched all of this occur (3:6) and willfully made his own choice. He chose to join her in doing what they had specifically been commanded not to do.

At that moment their eyes were opened and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. – Genesis 3:7a


When confronted with their sin, Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent. Their response was essentially – It’s not my fault! No one was willing to take responsibility for their actions. But God dealt directly with Adam’s sin – YOU listened and YOU ate (3:17).

“Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked, “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?”
The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”
Then the Lord God asked the woman, “What have you done?”
“The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”
– Genesis 3:11-13


God warned Cain that his anger was inviting sin to come and control him. He commanded Cain to subdue the sinful anger and stay in control, but Cain chose to wrap himself in self-pity and anger. In response to his jealousy of Abel’s choice to do what was right, Cain killed his brother. When asked where his brother was, Cain basically responded – It’s not my responsibility!

Afterward the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother?”
“I don’t know,” Cain responded. “Am I my brother’s guardian?”
– Genesis 4:9

Cain was given the choice to do what was right or to refuse to do what was right. He chose the latter and God punished him for his sins. When confronted with his sin, Cain could have humbly chosen repentance and confession. Instead he responded – It’s not fair!

Cain replied to the Lord, “My punishment is too great for me to bear! You have banished me from the land and from your presence; you have made me a homeless wanderer. Anyone who finds me will kill me!” – Genesis 4:13-14

Do these responses sound familiar? We hear them today, sometimes from other people and sometimes coming from our own mouth. It’s not my fault! It’s not my responsibility! It’s not fair!

God’s response remains the same. He warns us that sin is crouching at the door, eager to control us. He advises us to subdue sin and be its master rather than letting it master us. God makes it clear, just as He did for Adam: This is what I want you to do and this is what I do not want you to do. We have the same choice Cain did. We can do what is right or we can refuse to do what is right.

“Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” – Genesis 4:7

This is the message you have heard FROM THE BEGINNING: We should love one another. We must not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous. – 1 John 3:11-12

Lord, we ask for wisdom today – Your wisdom. Give us eyes to see sin crouching near us. Give us discernment to separate truth from lies. May your Spirit remind us of the dangers of temptation and may your Spirit be the source of strength to choose what is right in every situation. Place in us the desire to stay within the boundaries you have laid out before us. Reveal in us any sinful responses such as – It’s not my fault! It’s not my responsibility! It’s not fair! Father, we look to you and we place this day in your capable hands. Amen.

A New Beginning

Today’s Reading: Genesis 1-2:4; Psalm 104

I love the description of Creation in Psalm 104! God not only created us, He watches over us and cares for us. And so I join the psalmist in saying with determination, “Let all that I am praise the Lord!”

Good morning and Happy New Year! What a joy it is to wake up with a fresh new start this morning. I believe this next year will be a year of opportunities that God will use for His glory. He will place before us conversations, open doors and relationships. This morning as we spend time in His presence, let us commit to being available to God in this new year.

I long to hear from God this morning, to hear what HE desires for my year – HIS goals, HIS purpose, HIS plans. I don’t want to start this new year out of step with HIS perfect plan. So I do what I know to do. I enter into His presence with my Bible in one hand and a cup of my morning coffee in the other. This morning I eagerly start a new year and a new journey from Genesis to Revelation.

As the cadence of life naturally gives me a new beginning, I go back to the VERY beginning – to the first chapter of Genesis. I look back to the beginning of the world to seek answers of why God created the world, why He created me, and what He is calling me to do this year.


What is the purpose of our creation? What were we created for? We can find this answer by looking back at the account of creation. Take a minute to read Genesis 1:1-2:4. There we find God’s first instructions to His creation.

Then God said, “LET THE LAND SPROUT with vegetation – every sort of seed-bearing plant, and trees that grow seed-bearing fruit. These seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.” And that is what happened. – Genesis 1:11

So God created man in his own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “BE FRUITFUL and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it…” – Genesis 1:27-28a

So what is the purpose of creation and, therefore, God’s call on my life? God’s creation is called to bear fruit. All of creation is designed to produce fruit with seed in it that will then produce more fruit with seed, which will produce more fruit with seed. But what does it mean to be fruitful? How do we bear fruit? By trusting in the Lord and by remaining in the vine.

But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.
– Jeremiah 17:7-8


So the purpose of our existence in this imperfect world is to be fruitful. When the heat is increasing and we experience a time of drought, God promises to be the source of our needs so that we can remain “green.” We need God, in good times and in bad, and so what better place to be than along His riverbank with our roots reaching deep into His living water.

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.” – John 15:1-4

This is why I make it my goal again this year to wake up each morning and enter into God’s presence with a hot cup of my morning coffee. I long to grow my roots deeper into the soil of His word. I desire to be pruned and perfected for His purposes. I long to remain in Him and have Him remain in me so that I can bear fruit – the purpose of my creation and the purpose of my existence, but also the purpose of my salvation.


So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. – Romans 7:4

If I want to please God, if I want to be in the center of His will for my life, I must bear fruit that bears fruit. This is what I was created for, what I continue to exist for, and what I was saved for – to be fruitful and increase. It was what God was calling me to do in 2017 and what He expects in 2018.

So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. – Colossians 1:9-10

Those verses are my prayer for all of us in 2018 as we journey through the Bible – to grow in knowledge, wisdom and understanding, and to live a fruitful life as we get to know God better.

Lord, we enter into your presence and ask for a fresh filling of your Spirit. We sit at your feet and sip from your Word, asking for spiritual wisdom and understanding. May our lives always honor and please you, O God – not by our own effort but because our roots are established deeply in you. Lord, we long to watch you produce good fruit through us today and throughout 2018 – seed-bearing fruit that will itself grow and create more seed-bearing fruit so that your will can be accomplished and your gospel advanced. This is what you created us for, what we exist for and what we were saved for. We long to know you better and better, Father, and to grow as we learn at your riverbanks. Amen.

To God Be the Glory (My Mother’s Story)

Today’s Reading: Psalm 116:1-9

Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me. He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. And so I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth. – Psalm 116: 7-9

In September of 2015, my mother was diagnosed with a diaphragmatic hernia. Her stomach, pancreas and part of her intestines had passed through the tear into her lung cavity making it difficult for her to breathe. The surgery was risky and the surgeon warned her that she might not survive. After much prayer, a peace settled over my parents and the surgery was scheduled for April 6, 2016.

On the way to the hospital that morning, my parents turned on the radio as KLOVE played Lauren Daigle’s song “Trust in You”. They knew in that moment that they would trust in God even if He didn’t move the mountain they were asking Him to move.

Initially it seemed as if the surgery had gone well, although the surgeon found more damage than he expected to find. The next few days, my mother continued to decline. Early on the morning of April 10th, we received the call that she was unresponsive. We rushed to her side and spent the day watching her condition worsen. My father, sister and I said our goodbyes as they rushed her back into surgery on that Sunday afternoon.

Here is my mother’s story in her own words of what happened over the next few days:

I remember getting on the surgical table on April 6th but I do not remember the days following. The doctors and my family say it is best that way. I will tell you that the surgeons have heard my testimony and did not dispute any of my experience. On April 10th, I was rushed back into surgery. I was bleeding internally. And that is where my story begins.

I saw a veil come down that separated me from everyone. I could hear my family and friends talking but I could not respond. The veil had a small ring at the top and a larger one that held the veil from touching me. I could feel my body shutting down. My skin seemed to draw tight and my joints felt stiff. Suddenly I was being spun very fast – first one way and then another. There were loud, horrible screeching sounds, high-pitched like metal on metal, and the heat was so intense.

After what seemed like a long time, the “others” with me went to the right and I was sent to the left alone. I could not see the faces of the others and I don’t know where they went. The fast movement slowed to a “normal” pace. It was still very hot and loud. I came to what appeared to be a red wall. It melted and became orange, which also melted. The things I saw on and between these walls were so horrible that I have not told to many.

The walls held the image of faces. There was only one that I could identify even though I feel like they represented people from my past who had rejected God. The look on each face was terrifying and still haunt me.

Once past the walls I was in an area of pure white. Everything was so bright – not like any light we have on earth and the white was more white. It amazes me that the light didn’t hurt my eyes as I looked right at it. There appeared something that looked like shiny porcelain. Could it have been the gates of pearl? I don’t know. I was led to an area filled with white fabric. It was beautiful, soft, flowing. Again, not like anything I had ever seen.

Next I was led to 6 figures. They were clothed in the same fabric I had just seen. The fabric covered the back of each head and draped over everything except the face. Even though i couldn’t see their faces I knew who they were. I was with my mother who died in 1957, my father who died in 2003, my brother who died in 1991, and there were three grandchildren who were lost before birth. There was no communication with any of them. It was here that Jesus became clear to me in the form of a great glowing light. He said, “Not yet. I’m not done with you yet. There is still work I want you to do.”

At some point while I was still under the veil, I was aware of a presence on my left side. A voice said, “We have to do it now.” The hand of that presence pierced my left side. The pain was so intense. That hand went between my ribs into my inner being. It was so real that even yet I look for a scar. There isn’t one.

Time is totally lost to me. Some time later, still in the hospital, there was an image before me that said, “In the beginning I created the heaven and the earth.” Suddenly a great deal of clear refreshing water washed over me. It was so realistic that I felt my clothes and bed for moisture. There were dry.

The intense heat had been with me all this time. A wet cloth and fan did not help. After this encounter with the water, the heat was gone and has not returned. I feel like God knew I needed to be baptized again because I had literally been in or through hell and needed to be cleansed.

As I began to get better, I noticed that my right hand was no longer misshaped. I could open it all the way until it was straight and I could almost make a fist. I have had high blood pressure since 2010. Now I am off the medication.

God, I don’t know what it is You want me to dom- the “work” I need to be doing. I don’t know why You choose to heal me and send me back to life with my family. All I know is that I’m telling my story to anyone who will listen. And I know when You tell me what I am to do, I will do it and ask no questions.

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the world.” – Romans 9:15-17

God was speaking to Moses but He is also speaking to me. I keep thinking, “I don’t know why He chose to let me live after my surgeries.” God is saying to me, “Don’t question God.” It was His choice to make. Rejoice and do whatever He directs. It isn’t for me to understand but to use this experience to glorify God. I’ve been home for over a year now but these experiences are just as real as can be. I love the Lord and I will serve Him until my work here is done.

“Praise His Holy Name! My heart is full and even overflowing with love for You. You have brought us through so much since April 6th. There are no words to adequately express my feeling of gratitude.” [words from her journal on 9.13.16]