Reflection on Genesis 17:1-16

Genesis 17

Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+17.1-16

Scripture

I will always keep the promise I have made to you and your descendants, because I am your God and their God.”

Observation

When Abram is 99 years old, the Lord again appears to him. He promises to give him many descendants. Abram will be the father of many nations and is now to be called Abraham.

The Lord promises to keep His promises to Abraham and his descendants. As a response to this , every male- man, boy and even slaves- is to be circumcised. Future baby boys are to be circumcised on their eighth day.

Sarai is be called Sarah. She will bear a child and will become the mother of nations.

Application

God always keeps His promises. This is a fact that can give us hope in the darkest times.

God is faithful even when we are not. He keeps His promises to us and to our children.

We need to be careful that we heed the conditions of the promises. We often overlook the “If” and jump straight to the “I will…”

We must also learn to be patient when we claim God’s promises. He does things at the right time, not at our time. There is a 13 year gap between Genesis 16 and Genesis 17. Abraham was 100 years old when the son of promise was born.

When we think it’s too late, taking too long, past its “use by” date or just simply impossible, that is when God steps in.

God always keeps His promises. When we go off track, He coaxes us back in. When we give up hope, He gives us a glimmer of revelation to restore hope.

The only thing needed on our part is to stay faithful. God is faithful to His promise. We must remain faithful to Him.

Prayer

Thank you Lord that you always keep your promises. Even when we think we have missed it, nothing is too hard for you. Amen.

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Reflection on Genesis 9:8-17

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+9.8-17

Scripture

I promise every living creature that the earth and those living on it will never again be destroyed by a flood.”

Observation

After Noah and his family emerge from the ark to a literally new world, the Lord makes a covenant with Noah.

The promise is that the Lord will never again send a world-wide flood to destroy all life. The rainbow will be the sign of this promise- both to the Lord and to Noah.

Application

We are not told of the emotional impact of the flood on Noah and his family. Seeing the destruction of every person and every creature in the world, apart from those on the ark must have been extremely distressing.

Now the Lord makes that promise to never again destroy the world by flood. The rainbow would be the sign of this promise.

The promise, together with the “reminder” of the rainbow, was a source of hope for Noah’s family as they set about living as the only inhabitants on the planet. None of them would have to go through such an ordeal again.

God doesn’t guarantee us freedom from tribulation. He does give us reminders of His love and signs for hope. Even in the darkest times of our lives we can look at a rainbow and find hope, or remember the other promises that God has given us.

Prayer

You Lord are the Father of all hope. Help me to trust you in the dark times of my life. Amen.

Reflection on Genesis 32:22-31

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+32.22-31

Scripture

Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob but Israel, for you have struggled with God and with men and prevailed.”

Observation

Jacob sends his wives, children and possessions across the river. He spends the night alone. A man comes in the night and wrestles with him. It happens that the man is God.

Jacob demands that the man bless him. The man says that having struggled with God and men, his name will no longer be Jacob but Israel. Jacob’s hip is put out of joint and he walks with a limp from that day forward.

Application

There are two ways to wrestle with God. You can wrestle in rebellion or you can wrestle in faith.

When we wrestle with God in rebellion, our motivation is to get our own way, to defeat God and to show Him that we are in control of our life.

When we wrestle with God in faith, our motivation is to come to obedience, to defeat our own sinful nature and to show ourselves that God is in control.

The attitude of rebellion is “I shall not.” The attitude of faith is, “I shall, but only by your grace.”

When we wrestle with God, we are changed one way or the other. Jacob received a new name. He was changed from “Trickster” to “Prevails with God.” His walk was changed because God marked his hip.

No longer would Jacob struggle to overcome others by cunning. From now on he was to prevail with God,

Prayer

Father I ask you for the grace to prevail with you. May I always walk in humble dependence on you. Amen.

Reflection on Genesis 28:10-19

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+28.10-19

Scripture

Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”

Observation

Jacob comes to a certain place and lies down for the night. He dreams of a ladder reaching from earth to heaven and angels ascending and descending on it.

The Lord appears to Jacob and repeats His promises to Abraham and Isaac. These are promises of land, offspring and blessing.

Jacob wakes from his sleep and says, “Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place and I did not know it. This place is the house of God.” He anoints the stone he slept on and names the place Bethel, that is house of God.

Application

We christians have the Holy Spirit in us, and so every place we go is Bethel, for we are each one the house of God.

There are times when the Lord surprises us, perhaps speaking to us or acting for us in ways we did not expect.

The presence of God becomes obvious to us in these moments. Every day in all that we do, we should try to be aware of God. He is with us in all the moments of all our days.

Many years ago a monk known as Brother Lawrence wrote a book called “Practising the Presence of God.” The title itself is a clue- we need to practise listening and discerning God’s presence with us in the minutiae of daily life.

We can learn to take the opportunities to seek out the Lord in our daily routines. I know of one lady who assigns a prayer point to each household task. Others take a minute each hour to stop and ask “Lord what are you saying to me right now?”

It is so easy to miss appointments with God when we lose ourselves in the world. We need to seek out God in the unlikely places of our lives and declare with Jacob, “Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.”

Prayer

Father in heaven, help me to seek you in everything I do. Please reveal yourself to me in my daily life. Amen.

Reflection on Genesis 25:19-34

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+25.19-34

Scripture

Thus Esau despised his birthright.

Observation

Isaac, Abraham’s son, marries Rebekah. He prays to the Lord for a child as she is barren. She then becomes pregnant with twins.

The children struggle within her womb, so Rebekah prays and the Lord tells her that she has two nations inside her, and the elder will serve the younger.

When the twins are born, the first-born is covered in red hair so she names him Esau. The younger is clutching Esau’s foot so they name him Jacob.

Many years later, Esau returns from hunting one day to find Jacob cooking up a red stew. He demands some from his brother, but Jacob requires Esau to give his birthright to him, which he does.

Application

Esau despised his birthright. He was so driven by his flesh that he was willing to trade off his inheritance and position in the family for a bowl of stew.

It can be dangerously easy for christians to trade off their spiritual inheritance for some potentially short-lived fleshly desire. It might be sexual sin, an addiction or greed that leads us into a place where we are willing to give up our relationship with God, eternal life even, for some worldly gain.

The problem is that we see with our physical eyes rather than the eyes of faith, physical vision not spiritual vision.

Unlike Esau, the birthright can be regained if only we will confess our sins and walk in fellowship with the Lord.

The Lord has a birthright for every one of His children. We must not despise it.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, please protect me from every temptation to despise my birthright, the inheritance that I have in you. Let my eyes not be tempted by anything that leads me away from you. Amen.

Reflection on Genesis 22:1-14

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+22.1-14

Scripture

Abraham named the place Yahweh- Yireh which means “the Lord will provide.”

Observation

The Lord tests Abraham’s faith. He tells Abraham to take his son Isaac to the mountain to be a sacrifice to the Lord. Abraham does this.

Along the way, Isaac notices that they are missing an animal for the sacrifice and asks his father about this. “The Lord will provide,” Abraham declares.

Abraham builds an altar and places Isaac on it. Just as Abraham is ready to kill Isaac, an angel appears and stops him. Abraham looks up and sees a ram caught in a thicket.

Abraham names the place, Yahweh-Yireh, the Lord will provide.

Application

Isaac was God’s answer to years of prayer. He was provided by the Lord. He was literally Abraham’s hope for the future and the embodiment of every promise that the Lord had given to him.

Sometimes God calls us to sacrifice the things we hold dear, or things which represent long-awaited answers to prayer.

We must let go, for the blessings He gives us are not always ours to keep.

It could be a marriage, a dream job, a fulfilling ministry. Even though it seems cruel to have to yield it, the only way to grow in our faith is to let go.

When we do this we find that the Lord truly is our provider. Everything we give up for His sake is restored to us. It may not be exactly the same thing that we gave up but it will be better.

It is God’s nature to be our provider. This is who He is. This is what it means to call Him Yahweh Yireh. He restores what is taken from us and gives more as well.

Yahweh Yireh- the Lord will provide. For Abraham it was a sacrificial ram. For others it is what is needed in the moment.

My role is to trust and obey. I obey what God tells me to do, always trusting that He will provide what is needed.

Prayer

Thank you Lord for this example of faith by Abraham. Just as you provided what Abraham needed at that point of sacrifice, I know that you will provide for me as I seek to obey you. Amen.

Reflection on Genesis 21:8-21

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+21.8-21

Scripture

Then God opened her eyes and, she saw a well of water. She went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.

Observation

After Isaac is born, Sarah becomes jealous of her servant Hagar and Ishmael, the son she had born to Abraham. She tells Abraham to cast mother and son out into the wilderness so that Ishmael will not inherit what should be Isaac’s.

Abraham is distressed by this, but the Lord tells him that Ishmael will become a nation as well as Isaac. Reluctantly, Abraham sends Hagar and Ishmael away.

Hagar runs out of water and is ready to die along with her son. Then God sends an angel to bring words of comfort, and opens her eyes to see a well.

Application

Ishmael was conceived from unbelief. He was Sarah’s way of making God’s plan work when it was obvious that they needed a miracle.. Yet, because of his father, God still honoured him and provided for him.

God cares for the outcast.

God is not ashamed of our shame.

God accepts us In out rejection.

When we fell that we deserve nothing from God’s hand, then we are ready to receive all things from Him.

Sarah failed to believe in God’s power when she hatched her plan to help Him out. But now Hagar is desperate- there is no life without God’s intervention.

Sometimes when we are in a place of desperation we need to see God’s provision. We might fear God has not answered our prayer. In those times we need to ask God to open our eyes to see what is already there.

Prayer

Lord, please help me to see the well that you provide, the answer to desperate prayer that is already here. Amen.