“Yours”, “mine” or “ours”?

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-8-43-10-amPrintable15screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-8-43-15-amThe name “Fieger” is our last name. The pink iPhone is mine. The red football gloves are Aaron’s. The camry is “dad’s”. The Rogue is Rain’s. What about “God”? Is He yours? Mine? or Ours?

Today, in Genesis, we see that for Jacob “God” was his dad’s God, but not “his”.  Look at today’s verse. He calls God “the Lord your God…” Apparently God is not his God. Eventually, God does become his God, but not at this point. Just because God was Isaac’s God, did not automatically make Him Jacob’s God.

Unfortunately, you can not “inherit” God. Just because Dad and I worship, love and try our best to serve God does not mean He holds the same place in your life or even that you desire Him to. Every single person on the face of this earth has to come to a point where they decide if God is their God, by their choice, and by their commitment. We cannot do this for you.

I believe all of you know this and have made this choice, but as I considered Jacob today, I thought I might throw out a few ways to “check” and see how firm that decision is for you. Try answering these questions: If dad and I stopped going to church, would you still go? Are there things you say when you are not around us that you wouldn’t say around us? Are there things you do only at times that we will not know or see? Are there answers to questions you give because they are the “right” answers but not truly your heart? Do you have a desire to obey God daily, or only when it is convenient or observable by others? These are some ways you might be able to tell if God is truly your God or not. It is good for all of us to do this type of check on a regular basis. We need to make sure we are not riding on the coattails of another person’s faith, but instead, have clearly decided to call Jesus our own, and firmly know he is our God.

Hope

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-1-29-14-pmPrintable15screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-1-29-10-pmHow exciting are biblical genealogies? Not very, but they are important. (God would not have put them in if they were not!) Take today’s genealogy for instance, the genealogy of Ishmael.

Do you remember Ishmael? They boy who “way-back-when” was laid beside a tree by his mother? She was leaving him because she did not want to have to sit and watch him starve to death before her very eyes. Yes, that Ishmael. The Ishmael who was thrown out of a family and left for dead. Whose life clearly looked like it would end that family line. That’s the guy.

What things looked like and how they turned out sure were different, weren’t they? By all human counts, he was a throw away and as good as dead literally. But this was not God’s plan for him. God planned for his offspring to “multiply so that they cannot be numbered.” (Gen. 16) They did. God kept his promise.

What do we learn about God from this? God’s will is always accomplished. God’s plan can and often looks VERY different than what the human eye sees before it and also what the human brain thinks up. (I am certain Hagar thought of all the options for her son, and none included such a heritage.)

What encouragement can we take from this? Hope. No matter how bleak a situation looks, no matter how much of a life or death situation we are in, God can and does reign and rule sovereignly and will continue to do so in yours and my life as well!

Camels and water…

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-11-39-06-amPrintable15screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-11-39-11-amIf you came in the house after school or work today and asked for a glass of water, chances are, I am not going to be offering to also give water to your camels. First, you have no camels. Second, if you did, we would have bigger issues than water! That would just be weird.

But it was not a weird thing in Genesis today. It was the “sign” Abraham’s servant hoped God would give him in regards to finding a woman to marry Isaac. It may sound strange to us, but it probably wasn’t strange in their day. This servant was sent to find a bride for Isaac. He wanted to find the right one, and not just the one Abraham wanted, but the one God wanted. He did not try to figure it out alone. He asked for God’s help. He asked God to show him in a specific way (an offer to water camels) who was the right woman and God was faithful to answer in an understandable way.

James 1:5 tells us that: if any of you lacks wisdom he should ask God, who gives generously and without criticizing, and it will be given him. The way the servant asked was unusual, but God answered. The servants desire was that he would align his choice with God’s will. I am certain God was happy to help with that request. When we are seeking wisdom, and especially wisdom to discern God’s will we should never hesitate to ask God. He will be faithful to answer us. If He can use the very mundane things like camels and water, he certainly can and will help us to discern His will by whatever means necessary. But we must ask. No answer will come to an unasked question. Be bold. Ask God to show you what His will is in any decision, and watch to see who or what He brings across your path with the answer. Just let me know if your request involves a camel, so that I can have some water ready!

Hot topics…

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-12-09-58-pmPrintable15blue-iphone-7-plus-screen-turned-on-1What topic do we talk the most about? Some that come to mind for our family right now might be the Eagles, iPhone 7, Fantasy Football, friends or weekend activities. We talk about the things we love and things that are important to us.

I noticed one thing God liked to talk A LOT in Genesis to Abraham about his son Isaac. He talked to him about having a son. God made promises to Abraham and his son. In Genesis 22 God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Isaac was a hot topic. Why did God zero in on this with Abraham?

God tells us why in Genesis. It says in Gen. 22:1, “Some time later God tested Abraham” and then we are told of the whole sacrifice request. What test was it and how was Abraham to pass? The test was a test of obedience and of “loves”. God was testing how far Abraham was willing to go to obey God and seeing where Abraham’s first love truly resided. Was it in his son or in God first?

Abraham passed the test. He obeyed immediately, demonstrating in the most obvious way that He loved God above all, even above his one and only son.

The question is, would we pass the same test? If God sent me a note in the mail today to run over my iPhone with my car (I know, this is a poor comparison to your a living child….) and not replace it, how quickly would I do it, if I would do it at all? Would I come up with an excuse why I shouldn’t do it? Would I pretend God didn’t really  “mean” I had to do it? Would I delay in my obedience to do it? What about you? What is your first love and is that love a higher priority then our love and obedience to God? Is there anything we would NOT give up, put away or stop doing if God asked us to? This is the easiest way to tell what really has first place in our heart. Just remember, it is probably better if we test ourselves in these areas today and reprioritize our first loves now as needed, instead of God orchestrating circumstances for a real life test on them in our near future!

Take off the blinders!

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-11-08-53-amPrintable15screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-11-08-58-amDid you know that horses sometimes have things called “blinders” put on their eyes? Blinders are simply small squares of firm leather that attach to the bridle at the side of the horse’s head. They keep the horse focused on what is straight ahead, and prevent it from being distracted by something that may catch it’s attention in it’s peripheral vision.

Horse blinders are good. Human “blinders” are not.  After reading today’s Scripture, I realized that there is human internal blinders we are all susceptible to. This blinder is sin and Sarah demonstrates the “blinding” effects to it all too well today.

Sarah sinned in her actions regarding Hagar, her servant, and this sin had a blinding affect on her future treatment of Hagar. Today we see it come out in 3 ugly forms in just one verse: disrespect, jealousy, and unkindness.

Disrespect. Sarah was disrespectful to Hagar. She refers to Hagar as “that slave woman”. Really? That slave woman? The one who has been by her side for countless years and tended to her needs? Even though Hagar was not being nice, Sarah not using her name was disrespectful and not right.

Jealousy. What was Sarah’s gripe anyway? She was jealous for Isaac, her son. She did not want him to have to share. This is selfishness and jealousy in its ultimate ugly form.
Unkindness. She is literally asking her husband to send a woman and her son away in a time when that could very much mean death for both. These are 2 human beings. Not only are they human beings, one of those humans is her OWN HUSBAND’s son! Did she even consider how Abraham may have felt about this?

Sin in our lives sadly only leads to further sin. It is very much like an infection in your body. It does not “get” better on its own but instead, grows, multiplies, and comes out in ever increasing ugly ways that end in multiple forms of death. The sin in her life created a blinder further causing her to NOT see Hagar or her son as a person and to ignore her husband and his feelings for his own son. Her blinders made her ugly, and sin in our life will make us equally ugly as well.

Is there someone in our life who we are unkind to or look down upon with disdain? Perhaps we just don’t speak to them.  Could our view of them and our treatment of them be because of a sin blinder in our own life? Perhaps jealousy, pride, or selfishness. Who are you or I most unkind to? Today would be a good day to sit with the Lord and consider why we are unkind and ask God to remove our blinders, forgive our sin, and restore that relationship.

No go with the “Plan B”!

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screen-shot-2016-09-20-at-1-56-55-pmThis past weekend unfortunately there were more terrorist attacks. One was a bombing in NJ by Ahmad Khan Rahami,  a muslim from Afghanistan. Mr. Rahami is a direct relative to Sarai, the woman in the verse to the left, who made a decision 4000 years ago. It was a decision that affected our country on Saturday.

Sarai did not trust in God’s timing or plans. You know the story. God told Abraham and Sarai they would have a child. She didn’t see how this could happen, so she took matters into her own hands. She came up with a Plan B, and had Abraham follow through on it. The follow through resulted in Sarai’s maidservant having a son named Ishmael. Ishmael is regarded as a prophet and an ancestor to Muhammed, the leader of the muslim faith.

We could go on about the effect of Islam in the world, but that is not my focus in Scripture today. What I see is a tendency in Sarai that we all have. The tendency to assume that when we do not see God at work to fulfill a promise or work something out in our lives, we assume He is not at work or that He needs our “assistance.” God does not. His plan and His timing were and always are perfect. He only needed Sarai’s obedience and trust. If Sarai had instead trusted God and obeyed, her relationship with her maidservant (who may have been a good friend prior to this) would not have been broken. Her maidservant’s life would not have been so radically changed. The course of a people would not have been set by her disobedience.

God’s timing and decisions are perfect. When we choose to disobey God,  the effects of that choice could last for the rest of our lives and often long after we are gone. When we can not see God at work, we still must choose to trust Him, and be confident that He will work out His will at the perfect time in the perfect way. He absolutely, positively does NOT need our plan B-just obey and wait!

For example…

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screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-10-10-03-am“Youth”:  The period between childhood and adult age.

Do you qualify as a “youth”? Yes.  That means this week’s Scripture memory verse is specific instruction to you. God is telling you to set an example.

Do you find anything strange about the example-setting God refers to here? I do. Paul’s instruction to Timothy says to set the believers an example, not the non-believers. I never realized this before today. This could not be more applicable to all of you. Right now God has placed all of you in an environment that is mostly believers, and apparently there is work to be done. You are to set an example.

The areas for the example are speech, conduct, love, faith and purity. Things certainly haven’t changed since Paul wrote this because I clearly see this in dire need today in the halls of your schools, on the athletic fields and on Friday nights as everyone settles down to watch Netflix. There are choices to be made, words to be spoken or not spoken, acts of kindness on and off fields towards opposing teams, church or prayer group activities to be attended, shows to be watched or turned off and certainly ways to treat dates that will either be an example to believers, or they will tear down the name of Christ. You are in a special position. Paul knew it. God knows it and now He is reminding you.

Last week we were all called to take up our cross daily if we truly want to follow Him. Today, we are told that part of that cross is to set an example amongst our believing friends as to how a Christian should live-by the words we use, how we act, how we love one another, by practicing our faith daily and by living a life of purity. Let no one despise you for anything, but instead, I challenge you to live a life pleasing to God today and part of that includes setting a godly example for your friends.

“Mean Girls”…and boys…

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-9-21-11-amPrintable15screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-9-21-16-amI have not seen the movie “Mean Girls”, but I still know what a “mean girl” is. I have seen enough in real life. There are also “mean boys”. In some ways, I might categorize Job’s friend’s Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar as mean guys in regards to their words for Job.

In my reading of Scripture I have come to the end of Job and God speaks about these friends of Job’s. In fact, God actually says He is angry with these friends. 😳(That’s a scary prospect!) But that is not all he says. He tells them to go to Job and ask him to pray for them. Then, after Job does this, Job is blessed.

I wonder how Job felt about that. I wonder if he wanted to pray for them. I am not sure I would have after what they did to me. Not only that, given the circumstances (nothing had been restored to Job yet) if I were praying at all, it would have been for myself, not my rotten friends. But he does. Job prays for them. God then acts in Job’s life, actually blessing him. It seems such an interesting turn of events, and odd request. I see God giving us a glimpse of His heart here. God desires restoration-restoration between these men and Himself, and restoration between Job and his friends.

We read the Bible to learn about God. Today, through Job, we see a major priority for God in Job’s life was restoration amongst them all. Not physical comfort, or restoring Job to his former life, but the relationships were first and foremost. I doubt the restoration was easy, but it was worth it.

As we proceed through life, we will most likely come across or be that “mean girl” or “mean guy.” There may be friction in that relationship for one reason or another. Seek restoration in it. Pray for that friend. Lift them up to God and lift your relationship with them to God. At the same time, it is a good idea for us to consider if we need to come to God and restore our relationship with Him in any way as well. If there is, we would do well to deal with that first thing, before do anything else!

Does the Bible really say that?

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Prosperity and contentment. Who doesn’t want that? Isn’t that the goal of 99.9% of mankind-and here, it is promised in the book of Job. This is awesome news! The only requirement: We have to obey God.

Is that really a promise? It is a verse from the Bible, isn’t it? Nothing has been changed. I wrote it exactly as it is written in my Bible, but this is not a promise from God. This is poor counsel from one of Job’s friends, Elihu. His intentions were perhaps good, but his understanding of God was not without error.

I chose this verse this morning because it is the perfect verse to show that taken out of context, you can have Scripture say anything you want. I could easily quote this Scripture and say, “if people would just faithfully obey God, they will be prosperous and content the rest of their lives.” This would not be truth. What about Paul whose heart was wholly committed to God, and suffered shipwrecks, beatings and more? What about Jim Elliot, a missionary killed by cannibals? What about the thousands of others suffering for the name of Christ today as we sit in our homes, disobedient to God, and living a pretty prosperous and contented life?

Scripture should always be read in context and evaluated against the rest of Scripture. Just because someone uses a bible verse in a blog, a book, or a song, does not mean they are a christian or they have used it in the right context. Let’s take today Scripture as a reminder to always seek the full counsel of God. Always let “context be king” and when we are studying Scripture, consider all the verses around it and what other books of the Bible teach about the same principle. This is being a “Berean”, a studier of the Bible.  This way we will truly understand God, His ways, and know what really are His promises to us!

Words spoken and unspoken…

screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-10-17-58-amPrintable15screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-10-18-03-amLast night at the Back to School night Mr. Osbourn talked about this year’s verse. It speaks of “unity” amongst one and other as believers. He pointed out that to have unity we want to take part in uplifting one another and NOT take part in tearing each other down. Speak well of fellow students, staff, teachers and families. This is NOT always easy. It takes determination and a heart to obey God.

Job demonstrates this quality more than anyone I have ever seen. If ever a person had reason to complain, be bitter or speak poorly of anything, it seems to me he was justified. Instead, you can see by today’s verse, he was determined no matter what to not speak wickedness or deceit. This verse is his response after his friends have spoken untruths about the way God works. Job will not take part. He refuses to agree with them, and he states it clearly here. He is determined to control his lips and his tongue in regards to truth about God, life, and everything else as long as he lives.

This is character. This is determination. This is what a child of God can do with God’s power. This is what God wants us to do. As we seek to live in unity with other believers, let’s ask God to impress upon us to not speak any wickedness or deceit. Ask Him to convict you (and I) when we have sinned in this area, and then repent when we have. We too can be determined like Job and honor God with our speech. It is part of the overall transformation to become more Christ like.  We can bring glory to God with every word we speak as well as with those we choose NOT to say.