Advent week 1: Hope

Have any of you looked closely at the age timeline on the story of Abraham (Abram)?

It took 23 years for God’s promise to actually come true for Abraham! About 10 years into it, Abraham and Sarah got tired of waiting and made a terrible decision which really hurt some people (one theory suggests that Ishmael became the father a tribe indigenous to the middle east causing generational conflict). God still gave them another chance and still made good on His promise. We can trace Jesus’s lineage backwards to Abraham. This means this is one of the first prophecies that we see fulfilled concerning Jesus’s birth. I feel this should encourage us to continue believing in God’s promises…no matter how long they may take! Even if you’ve made some stupid mistakes! Keep your hope up!! For a more detailed study, read the following:

In Genesis 11 we see that Abram’s wife Sarai was barren and that his father Terah died at the age of 205. In chapter 12 (immediately after the passing of Terah), God came to Abram and promised to him that he would be the father a great nation. Abram was 75 at the time, which does seem preposterous, but the backwards math tells us that Terah was 130 when Abram was born (so not that uncommon).

Ten years after this promise, Abram and Sarai are still waiting for their promise to come to fruition. I understand them getting a little nervous but God did remind them of the promise in chapter 15. Immediately after this second promise, we read in chapter 16 that Abram and Sarai take matters into their own hands. They decided to have a baby through other means (see the story of Hagar and Ishmael in chapter 16 and you’ll know it ended horribly).

It was yet another thirteen years later (chapter 17) that God restates His declaration that Abram would be the father of many generations and renames them Abraham and Sarah.

So, 23 years, a terrible decision in the meantime, yet God’s promise was fulfilled!

 

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God IS love!

In light of recent, horrific events in Paris, it was suggested that I write a little regarding the topic of “where is God in all of this.”

I believe the first and most important ideal that we must understand is that God never intended for us to have to deal with hatred or death. God created mankind in His perfect image of love (only in emotion, not in physical appearance as God is a spirit and not a body). He then gave us the gift of a free spirit so that we could decide which direction to go. It was mankind that chose to follow a different path which brought in imperfection, shame, sin, and death. (See Genesis 3) What we often forget about (or intentionally leave out) is that at the end of God cursing mankind for their disobedience, He immediately offered provision (Genesis 3:21 and 22).

This tells me that God is love and always wants to provide for us. The rest of the Old Testament is all about God’s hope of redemption for His people. He continually gave us second and third chances and equipped men and women as leaders. His simple message through the whole Bible is “Come back to me, trust me, I want to be with you and to bless you.”

It’s hard to remember this when we are faced with the horrible destruction that is in the world today, but remember that Jesus prepared us for these things. In John chapter 14, Jesus reminded us that He would not leave us comfortless. When we remember that God is love and that He James 1:13 says “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone” meaning that there is an evil, spiritual force in this world who’s only motivation is to pull us away from a loving God. GOD DID NOT DO THIS, EVIL PEOPLE DID! God should not be blamed for something which mankind, equipped with a free spirit, made the selfish decision to do.

John 16:33 says “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Please know that I am not trying to diminish the loss of those families. My heart does go out to everyone effected by this tragedy and I will continue to pray that this spirit of hatred will be broken.

The hardest thing?

I am finding that the hardest thing for me to remember about God is that nothing I do, or stop doing, can make Him love me more or less.

I often notice that I’m subconsciously thinking that I need to try harder not to do something as to make myself more acceptable in God’s sight. I have learned instead that the more I seek a serious relationship with Him, the more I see my desires naturally change.

If you are having these same struggles, here are some things that have helped me. Concentrate on a stronger relationship with God through spending time in His word and prayer times where you let Him speak into you. Follow His commands of loving others like yourself. Ask Him for guidance to make better choices each day. The rest of you will catch up once your heart is in line with His word!

Psalm 37:4 (NIV) “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

I believe this verse means more than getting all the things we want. Instead, I believe it backs up everything I’ve said in this blog today. Delight in God, be satisfied with His direction and provisions. The desires of your heart will change.