In the beginning...

Just say Jesus

1-15-2016 Genesis 15:17-21

god-keeps-his-promises

17 And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces. 18 On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying:

“To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates— 19 the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.”

Here God makes a promise to Abram. Funny thing about promises is that God is the only one who keeps all of His promises.  When I look at our world I see lots of lies, deceit, hatred, anger, etc… We seem to never be good for our word (promise).  We make promises to our friends, family, job, and even our country.  All of us have broken some if not all of these and more.  So why do we even make promises if we know the odds are it will be broken?  I think we need some sort of guarantee even if we know it might not work out.  I believe also we have the need to be trusted, and promises help to create trust.  I believe the promise we need to put in our lives is a promise to follow Jesus to the best of our ability.  We will fall short at times, but He is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us.  The only promise worth anything in our world today is God’s promises.  The truth is we can trust Him.  God  said: “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6).  Here in lies the answer to all we seek.  Jesus told us: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). You can count on Him.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  Just like Abram, we too need to trust in the Lord.  But if you are still confused and don’t know what to say or do…. call out….He’s listening….just say Jesus!

1-14-2016 Genesis 15:7-16

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7 Then He said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.”

8 And he said, “Lord God, how shall I know that I will inherit it?”

9 So He said to him, “Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. 11 And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

12 Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him. 13 Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. 14 And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. 16 But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”

When I read stuff like this in the bible, I get confused.  What in the world is God asking for here? After doing some research I learned each one of those animals has a specific type of sin attached to it for atonement. God knew Abram’s sins before he committed them.  Just like he knows yours and mine.  However, Abram didn’t have the benefit of the bible as we do today.  He did, however have a relationship with God and God commanded him to do things that probably didn’t make sense.  When we read and study the word of God, we also form a relationship with God. It doesn’t always make sense, but if we follow, it works out.  The truth is that relationship is one with Jesus.  Jesus is the word of God.  John the apostle starts his Gospel with: ” In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it’ (John 1:1-5).  A few verses later John writes: ” And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).  Throughout the bible and throughout history, God has been trying to connect with you and me.  He loves us more than we could ever know.  Probably the most published verse of the bible John 3:16 reads: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. ”  The Creator of the universe loves you so much that He would come down in the form of one of us, and give His life.  He really wants us to know who He is.  If you’re reading this talk to Jesus today.  He is there waiting.  All you have to do is ask.  But if you’re still confused and don’t know what to say….just say Jesus!

1-13-2016 Genesis 15:1-6

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After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”

2 But Abram said, “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!”

4 And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” 5 Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”

6 And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.

God promised to make Abram great.  He tells him to not be afraid.  He basically lets Abram know “I got your back”, and Abram believed it. Looking back we can understand why Abram should believe God.  God had protected Abram and his family; He provided and always took care of him.  Sounds like you and me…right?  So why do we look elsewhere for our security, protection, food, clothing, shelter…etc..etc..  It comes down to faith.  Although the evidence is there people still don’t believe.  Paul the apostle told us: ” For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).  God has made Himself known.  So faith should be easy, right?  I think it’s also a choice of what we choose to believe.  Most people believe there is a God, but many don’t know Him or care to.  Most of us (including me), cry out to God for help when things get bad.  But what God really desires is a relationship with each one of us.  This relationship comes through Jesus.  Jesus said: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). So He is knocking all you have to do is answer.  Once we do He has promised us: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7). So if you’re lost, confused, afraid, and don’t know what to say or do….just say Jesus!

1-12-2016 Genesis 14:18-24

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18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. 19 And he blessed him and said:

“Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
20 And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”
And he gave him a tithe of all.

21 Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.”

22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich’— 24 except only what the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.”

We can learn so much from Abram here.  He trusted in God, and God delivered his enemies to him.  He was grateful so he gave back.  That’s the tithe part.  He didn’t take stuff that wasn’t his, and he asked that his men be given what they deserve.  This is such a great example and Jesus tells us the same thing.  He said: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).   If we look to God first He will provide everything we need.  Then we need to give back just like Abram.  Paul the apostle said:  “remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive'” (Acts 20:35).  Next Abram didn’t take or want things that didn’t belong to him.  Jesus told us: ” Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15).  The truth is we came into this world with nothing and we will leave with nothing.  Jesus said: “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? ” (Matthew 16:26).  Focusing our life on God and the needs of others will ultimately bring us the treasure we need.  Jesus said: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).  Jesus gives us the answers we need.  Abram was an example of this.  But if you’re still confused and don’t know what to say…just say Jesus!

1-8-2016 Genesis 14:13-17

Rescue me

13 Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, for he dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre[c] the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner; and they were allies with Abram. 14 Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 He divided his forces against them by night, and he and his servants attacked them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. 16 So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people.

17 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley), after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him.

Here we see Abram rescuing Lot, his peeps, and all his stuff.  In the previous verses we saw Lot in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s the same today.  If we place ourselves around the wrong people, places, or things, eventually we end up needing to be rescued. However, just as Abram came to rescue Lot, Jesus is always available to rescue us.  The truth is if we stay by His side, we don’t have to worry about being taken captive as Lot.  Not in the literal sense, but by the things of this world that will bring you down.  Paul tells us: “But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one” (2Thessalonians 3:3).  The truth is the war we face is not against the people we see every day. It’s a spiritual battle within each of us.  Paul the apostle also told us: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).  This is not some hocus-pocus thing. All of us have felt an inward tug at different times.  Evil is out there my friends, and it wants to take you down.  But Jesus can and will save you. Are you in need of being rescued? All you have to do is ask.  But if you’re still confused and are a prisoner like Lot….just say Jesus!

 

1-7-2016 Genesis 14:1-12

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And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations, 2 that they made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 3 All these joined together in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). 4 Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.

5 In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him came and attacked the Rephaim in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh Kiriathaim, 6 and the Horites in their mountain of Seir, as far as El Paran, which is by the wilderness. 7 Then they turned back and came to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and attacked all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who dwelt in Hazezon Tamar.

8 And the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out and joined together in battle in the Valley of Siddim 9 against Chedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of nations,  Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five. 10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of asphalt pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled; some fell there, and the remainder fled to the mountains. 11 Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. 12 They also took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.

Have you ever been in the midst of something you have nothing to do with, however you end up either being blamed or caught up in the whole mess? It sure looks like this is what happened to Lot.  When we surround ourselves with the wrong people, or just hang out in the wrong places we can get swept up and before you know it, we’re in a real bad place.  There is an old saying ” If you hang around a barber shop, you’ll get a haircut”.  Makes sense, right? Same goes with people, places, and things. In order to have a reasonably happy life, we need to surround ourselves with the right people, stay out of the places that are potentially harmful, and stop doing the things that bring us down.  We all know what they are, however we seem to try and justify how it will be “Okay” this time, or “I don’t do this all the time”.  Eventually, like Lot, it will bring us down.  If and when this happens, there is an answer.  Yup, His name is Jesus.  So if you’re sick and tired of being “sick and tired”, call out!  He will rescue you…..just say Jesus!

1-6-2016 Genesis 13:14-18

new-beginnings 1

14 The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.” 18 So Abram went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he pitched his tents. There he built an altar to the Lord.

I see God giving Abram all this but why?  Why is he special?  Why did God make him so great? Two things I see: 1. Abram was humble and 2. Abram had faith. How many of us would offer another everything we have and be content with whatever is left? That would take a lot of faith! The truth is treasure here on earth means nothing. Jesus said: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). We were all born with nothing and we will take nothing with us when we die.  However, we want to be comfortable while we are here. Where’s the balance?  I believe it comes with putting Jesus first.  If you’re not putting Him first you are putting something else there and that just doesn’t work out.  So what’s the best way for this to happen? The word is “surrender”.  Most of us hate this word.  It makes us feel powerless.  The truth is, we are, and don’t realize it.  When we give it to Jesus ( like Carrie Underwood sais: Jesus take the wheel) , let Him drive, life gets better.  Not perfect but the best it can be.  Our life here on earth is but a journey to our final home.  That can be with or without Jesus.  It’s up to you!  But if you’re still confused and don’t know what to say….just say Jesus!

1-5-2016 Genesis 13:10-13

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10 Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. 13 Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.

Wealth, prosperity, notoriety, power… all good things, but like Lot how do we acquire them? It comes down to choice. James the brother of Jesus wrote: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).  Lot saw an easy life on the other side, however he missed the part where the people of Sodom would corrupt and bring him down.  When we don’t put God first our decisions usually lead to failure.  So what’s the answer? Trust and Faith in Jesus works every time.  And it’s a daily task.  It will be a struggle at times, but ultimately the reward is great.  Jesus told us: “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2-3). Jesus promised us this great place and He gives us a choice.  Following Jesus (The Choice) means we have to complete the task here on earth.  Jesus died for us so that we could live.  All we have to do is accept it and finish the race.  When that day comes, He will take us home.  So if you’re reading this….choose Jesus today… He won’t let you down! But if you’re still confused and don’t know what to say…just say Jesus!

12-30-2015 Genesis 13:1-9

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So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him.  Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold. From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the Lord. Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents.  But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together.  And quarreling arose between Abram’s herders and Lot’s. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time.

Have you ever had a dispute about money? It seems that money or possessions cause lots of problems in our lives.  We pursue it like the holy grail! Why? Paul the apostle wrote: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).  It certainly has provided much turmoil in my life. There was a time in my life that I sought after money more than any other thing.  I believed that if I had plenty of money I could please the people in my life.  I thought I could give them everything they needed, however it only created resentment and strife.  During this time I knew who God was but my relationship with man was screwed up. I didn’t surround myself with the right people or practice the principles that Jesus and the bible teach. Paul the apostle also wrote:  ” Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11). When I surrendered to these principles everything changed.  I realized that showing love and compassion is the road to true wealth.  1 Corinthians 13:8 reads: “Love never fails”.  I have found this to be true.  No matter what the situation, if I show love it works out.  Maybe not how I would like it, but the best it will ever be.  Paul wrote: “4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)”. Using these 4 verses to both check myself and use as a guideline has changed my life. I encourage you to do the same, but if you are still confused and don’t know what to say….just say Jesus!

12-29-2015 Genesis 12:10-20

trust

10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there, for the famine was severe in the land. 11 And it came to pass, when he was close to entering Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, “Indeed I know that you are a woman of beautiful countenance. 12 Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, ‘This is his wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13 Please say you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you.” 14 So it was, when Abram came into Egypt, that the Egyptians saw the woman, that she was very beautiful. 15 The princes of Pharaoh also saw her and commended her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken to Pharaoh’s house. 16 He treated Abram well for her sake. He had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male and female servants, female donkeys, and camels. 17 But the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. 18 And Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’? I might have taken her as my wife. Now therefore, here is your wife; take her and go your way.” 20 So Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him; and they sent him away, with his wife and all that he had.

Reading this I see how Abram deceived Pharaoh to save his life.  We have so much deception in our world.  We try to fool people to get what we want.  Our media deceives us into believing lies.  Even our colleges teach lies and deception.  It’s a crap shoot when we encounter others.  The bible teaches us to trust God.  I have found that when I follow this my life is okay. It’s not perfect by any means but it is okay.  Jesus said: “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). The only way to not be deceived is to follow Jesus.  Abram relied on deception and he made it through.  The bible doesn’t say if he was commanded by God to do this.  Either way, if we follow God’s instructions the outcome is always better.  The bible is full of stories of men who strayed away from God, however when they turn away from their way and follow God, He brings them through.  The same goes for us.  If we repent (turn away) and follow Jesus, He will get us through. It’s not easy and doesn’t always make sense, but Jesus is the way.  But if you’re still confused, and don’t know what to say….just say Jesus!

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