Holding God In Contempt

Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way.  Thus Esau despised his birthright.  Genesis 25:34

Why does it often seem that those who appear to have everything think little of it ~ when those who are without would sell their souls to get it?  The one who has it all can think nothing of his blessings.

Esau was the firstborn.  He would enjoy a double portion of his father’s inheritance.  He would also be the recipient of God’s promises within the covenant.  Instead of standing in awe of these blessings, he thought nothing of them.  He despised everything that came with being the firstborn, including God’s promises for the future.  His cavalier attitude was on full display the day he come in from hunting, smelled Jacob’s stew, and offered to give Jacob his birthright for a portion of the stew.  An even trade?  Not even close.  But the absurdity of the exchange reveals how much he held his birthright in contempt.

I can read the story, think about Esau’s choice, and mutter “How foolish!”  Yet, holding God in contempt for the promises He has made to me is easy to do.  I’ve done it.  I’ve read a promise and, in a bad moment, shook my head and turned the other way.  “Yeah right, like God is really going to do that for me!”  My contempt causes me to cite the numerous times I felt God didn’t keep His promises. I punished Him by exchanging the benefits of His covenant for the lies of His enemy.

When it appears that God doesn’t come through for me and, instead, sets the stage for my unbelief, it is time to exercise faith ~ not judgment.  In the dark moments of Jesus’ life, it could have appeared to Him, and everyone close to Him, that His Father failed to love, protect, and preserve His life.  Hindsight shows that God had a plan of redemption for His Son and kept every promise to sustain Him.  I cannot judge God by the dark moments.  That which causes me to hold God in contempt are the very things plagued by insufficient spiritual vision.  Thanksgiving, not contempt, should mark the demeanor of every blood-bought child.

Forgive me for every time I sit in the judge’s seat and sift your promises into two piles; those You keep and those You don’t.  Wash away the sin of my unbelief.  Amen

Setting Up Lifelong Rivalry

When her days to give birth were completed, behold, there were twins in her womb. The first came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak, so they called his name Esau. Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.  Genesis 25:24-26

Esau cared little about being the firstborn and ended up trading his inheritance for a pot of red meat stew.  What Jacob wanted, he didn’t possess and ended up using deception to get it.  Each had different cravings.  What each craved was in the hands of the other brother.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?  This contrast of interests, personalities, and unholy appetites is much like Cain and Abel.  That didn’t end well either.

Nothing stirs up our flesh like family rivalry.  The personality and gifts of one child can be celebrated more than the uniqueness of another child.  Or one parent favors one child while the other parent favors another.  From birth, affections and privileges are often divided.  Harmony among the children is doomed from the start through no fault of their own.

Some siblings spend their lives at odds.  The tension is never resolved.  Even in old age, the stuff of youth is still being rehearsed.  Perhaps that’s because all of our past seems like yesterday to us ~ which keeps the wounds fresh.

What can heal cravings for love, respect, favor, and wealth?  How can life-long prejudices dissolve?  Someone new must arrive on the scene to offer things greater in value than old cravings.  Someone has ~ and His name is Jesus.  Healing for severely fractured families is possible but only as they come together to love and worship Jesus.  Each one’s appetite must be transformed by seeing the beauty of Jesus Christ, who makes the stuff that comprised their arguments seems minuscule. 

Perhaps you have life-long angst inside of you regarding other members of your family.  If you think about that person right now, you feel your insides churning.  Being loved by Jesus and becoming emotionally engaged with your spiritual birthright and coming inheritance melts away resentment.  The thing you are trying to extract from another family member could be abandoned for what Jesus offers.  Hope is deferred, but it is real, and it is yours.  Nothing and no one may revoke it.

Help families re-orient so that our hands are clutching You instead of things that perish. Amen

It Will Be As He Has Said

The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. And the Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger.”   Genesis 25:22-23

Rebekah is pregnant with twins.  She wouldn’t be the first to feel the angst of a child in her womb.  Much transpires there that shapes the future, both for the good and the bad.  I am naïve to think that I was not affected somehow by what happened around me while being carried to term in my own mother’s womb.  An unborn baby assimilates environments outside of its mother.  Kindness, violence, acceptance, and rejection ~ are all keenly felt.  They shape a child’s view of himself, and the world, before he takes his first breath.   

When Rebekah felt the striving between her twins, she was wise when she asked the Lord about it.  God prophesied that this spiritual rub between the twins would be historical.  The small amount of wrestling in the womb would escalate to involve nations at war in the future.  One child would prevail over the other because only one was destined by God to rule.

When God spoke to Rebekah, she could count on the fact that His words were already history.  If she hadn’t liked what He said, it would have been futile for her to set out to change things as the boy’s mother.  Could she have beaten God?  Can anyone think of waging a contest with Him, believing they’ll win?  Whatever God declares has always been true, is true today, and will always be true.  No one can change His plans with time and ingenuity.

How did things turn out for the twins?  God’s prophecy prevailed.  One nation was born ~ from the child God blessed, and it ruled over the other nation for years to come.  In 2 Samuel, King David (the blessed twin’s line) conquered the Edomites (the 2nd twin’s line) and they remained under his control for 130 years.  Nothing could transpire, whether in the womb, as toddlers, as adolescents, or as grown men, that could change what God decreed to Rebekah on that day.

God’s Word always prevails.

I learned the hard way that I am not exempt from what You have blessed and cursed.  Your Words rule over my life, but rule with power and love.  I’m so glad I stopped fighting.  Amen

Scoffing At The Promise

Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to be his wife. And Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren. And the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived.  Genesis 25:20-21

God’s chosen family is visiting the grief of barrenness yet again.  History is repeating itself.  God told Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, but then he and Sarah couldn’t conceive.  God intervened.  Isaac was born.  Then Isaac made Rebekah his wife.  From them would come many nations but Rebekah was barren.  The promise appeared to be nullified yet again.

There have been times God clearly led me in a certain direction. He confirmed and opened doors.  But once on the road, things fell apart.  Prayer seemed stagnant.  I finally engaged every bit of ingenuity to bring about the changes needed.  But the best that I could produce was an Ishmael.  It took a while for me to learn that the God-given destinies are just that ~ God-given ~ Spirit-led.

As you read this, you may be living out this ironic plotline.  God has called you to do something, go somewhere, and He clearly opened the door for you.  You rearranged your life to follow His lead.  Now, all seems dead. Dave Wilkerson calls it ‘the death of a vision.’   Most holy callings visit this temporary place.  You dwell in the land of barrenness and can’t make anything happen no matter how hard you try. 

God is making sure that holy callings stay holy callings.  If I am in a seemingly dead place, the wrong thing is to force something to happen.  The right thing is to stop looking at the calendar and lack of provision.  Rest, worship, and wait patiently with expectation.

I echo the prayer of King Solomon.  ‘I am but a little child and do not know which way to go.’  Infuse my journey today with divine sparks of encouragement.  Amen

Complicated Family Issues

         Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him in the cave of Machpelah.  Genesis 25:9

This tiny gem of a verse can be missed.  It’s sitting on the edge of a long genealogical list and normally, it’s the part I’ll skip over.  This morning, the meaning of the sentence hit me. The two brothers had been alienated from each other.  Their estrangement began with fighting and Sarah would have none of it.  She told Abraham to cast out Ishmael, and his mother, from their household.  Hagar and Ishmael nearly died during their exile in the desert and, in fact, would have if an angel hadn’t rescued them.  Did hatred and resentment run deep in Ishmael’s heart? That would be human nature.

And yet in this part of their story, they come together to honor and bury their father.  In their grieving, they found something in common.

How difficult it was to be siblings in the O.T.  Cain killed Abel.  Jacob and Esau’s rift was legendary.  Joseph’s brothers hated him enough to sell him off to slave traders.  Only Moses and Aaron were a successful pair, leading the children of Israel out of Egypt.

Are you at peace with your siblings or are there hurts that run deep? A brother wronged is more unyielding than a fortified city; disputes are like the barred Gates of a citadel.  Proverbs 18:19  Family wounds are old, personal, and usually entrenched.

Not all family wounds will be healed.  It takes two to reconcile and each must deal with the truth of the offenses.  But it only takes one to forgive.  By forgiving, I poise myself on the line of reconciliation and pray for my brother, or sister, to meet me there in truth and humility.

Nothing is too hard for You, Lord.  Reunite and bind together what is broken.  Loose families from grudges, misinformation, and pride.  Amen

Seeing It From A Distance

These are the days of the years of Abraham’s life, 175 years. Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people.  Genesis 25:7-8

How many parents die before seeing their children and grandchildren inherit their spiritual blessings?  I have personally seen people hang on at the end because they worried about loved ones.  Can such unrest result in a miraculous peace even though answers to prayer are not yet realized?  Oh, yes.  It’s called faith.

Abraham lived 175 years, yet he didn’t see the long-term promises of God fulfilled.  The writer of Hebrews described it. These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar.  Hebrews 11:13 Abraham couldn’t see all his descendants with his physical eyes but he was able to see it with spiritual eyes.  He died peacefully with full assurance of what would come to pass later.

Most of us live in the in-between stages of life, the ‘now’ and the ‘not yet.’ While we wait, how will we wait?  Is there deep frustration with a God who appears to be taking too long to answer or is there confident expectancy in what God will do?  The undercurrent of the first is fear and unbelief.  The foundation of the second is faith. 

I remember talking to a retired missionary couple, mentors to me, about a wayward son who showed no sign of coming back to the Lord.  Over the years, they shed many tears.  But when I asked them about the joy that I sensed, simultaneous to the pain they felt regarding their son’s detour from the kingdom, they quick to assure me.  “We are joyfully confident of what God will do.”  They both died before their son returned to faith, but soon after they died, he did embrace Christ. He has a successful medical practice blessed by God and is passionate about medical mission work.  Both his parents saw his future with spiritual eyes.

God’s waiting room of prayer is the place where faith is cultivated.  Outside of this secret place however, the enemy is very present, attempting to tip the balance of faith toward unbelief and anger.  Faith can win.  How can I be sure of what is unseen?  By believing in the character of God and the promises He’s made.  I must feed my faith with the Word and starve my fears.  Nothing and no one should be able to steal my confidence.

Some of your promises may be fulfilled outside my lifetime.  If I’m not okay with that, show me what I’m missing so that I can find peace.  Amen