As you read Genesis, you learn of the Promised Land, the land that God had promised to Abraham as part of the Abrahamic Covenant. Remember: blessing, land, and descendants. This Promised Land was eventually inhabited by Abraham’s descendants when Joshua and the Israelites entered Canaan. Nonetheless, Abraham never got to claim the Promised Land—He never got to reside in this area, the Promised Land.
In Genesis 23, we read of the death of Abraham’s wife Sarah, and we read of her burial. Here we read of the patriarch’s wife dying and Abraham attempting to purchase land to bury her. Why did he need land? He had none! Despite God promising him land, there was no land. Abraham was a sojourner. But Abraham negotiates a deal with Ephron the Hittite for a cave and a field to buy and then bury his beloved wife. In making settlement on this land, in purchasing the deed, Abraham was buying a very small piece of the Promised Land.
You may think, why should Abraham have to buy a piece of land that God promised him. God said that land would be his, but it didn’t mean it would happen overnight or even in his lifetime. But as Abraham lost his precious wife, this situation gave Abraham a reminder of what would come. By purchasing this small piece of the Promised Land, he was able to lay down roots in the land that would one day be the land of his descendants. He was burying the first of many of his family, in the land that God promised would all be his. As he was making this purchase, he was trusting in this great promise from God—and declaring His faithfulness.
We don’t know how God will work in a situation. We don’t know the steps, the plan, or even if things will happen during our time on earth. But we do know we have a faithful God and His Word never fails.
“So Ephron’s field in Machpelah near Mamre—both the field and the cave in it, and all the trees within the borders of the field—was deeded to Abraham as his property in the presence of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of the city. Afterward Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah near Mamre (which is at Hebron) in the land of Canaan. So the field and the cave in it were deeded to Abraham by the Hittites as a burial site.” – Genesis 23:17-20 [NIV]
Who do you trust? Do you have people that you trust? Family? Friends? A spouse? A parent or child? Who do you trust? Whoever you trust, this person or these people are known to you. You have a relationship with them. You have known them for a period of time. You may know their secrets. You can describe them to others. You have been through a lot. You have seen them in action.
In 2 Timothy, Paul writes to Timothy about the One in whom he trusts. He trusts God. He knows God. He wrote, “I know the One in whom I trust.” He knows God. Paul is talking about a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Many people know of God, but not so many know God. There is a difference. To truly know God, you have a relationship with Jesus Christ. As you read His Word, you know Him more. As you walk in faith, you know Him more. As you serve His people, you know Him more. As you worship Him, you know Him more. Can you say today that you know Who you trust? Are you taking steps toward getting to know Him more? Your confidence in Him is strengthened by your knowledge of Him, which is strengthened by your walk with Him. As you continue to do life with Jesus, He continues to reveal to you Who you trust.
“That is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the One in whom I trust, and I am sure that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until the day of His return.” – 2 Timothy 1:12 [NLT]
My dog Max frightens at times. I often tell him he is a big baby despite his 85-pound Labrador body. When my little Shih-Tzu Marci has an episode due to tracheal collapse, Max runs upstairs to hide. He doesn’t like the sound. I’ll admit the sound is a bit disturbing.
The tracheal collapse is a known issue with the breed. It doesn’t happen often and it has not caused Marci any problems. Even so, Max is fearful of the noise and possibly the body language of his best friend. Perhaps, just like us humans, he’s fearful of the unknown.
The unknown can be scary. Truth be told, we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. It is unknown. There are some possible things that likely will happen tomorrow. But we don’t know for sure. Even more frightening is when we are to walk out of our comfort zone. When God calls us out of the comfort area, the fear level rises. There’s no need to run. Tomorrow may be unknown, but our God is known and He is faithful. Put your trust in Him. He will see you through.
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” – Psalm 56:3-4 [ESV]
We have all certainly missed some blessings. When we walk in faith, we are met with blessing. It might not happen right away, but eventually it comes. I remember when I took a leap of faith and returned to college. When I graduated with my ministry degree, I thought instantly something would happen. It was a long period later before I saw how God orchestrated everything for a better outcome. Remember, He thinks differently than us. What we think would be great, is nothing compared to the greatness He has in store for us.
I have been at the crossroads where I could walk in faith, or turn in the other direction. There have been times when I didn’t step forward. I stood my ground or turned direction. I then missed the opportunity to see God move. Remember, He calls us to walk in faith. If we don’t walk, we miss what follows. Oftentimes, rather than walk in faith, we take burdens on our own shoulder. We then miss the opportunity to see God move in awesome ways. We miss it!
Lately I have been recognizing the lack of faith in people around me. I’m not saying this to say, “My faith is greater than yours.” I am simply noting that God is revealing this to me. It grieves me. I feel for those who are not walking forward in faith, because I know they are missing out on what God has for them. I share with these people how God has moved in my life. Still, they don’t move. I can only pray. Prayer is always the best thing. Today, I’m praying for you. I am praying that you are not missing the blessings. I am praying for you to have confidence in the Lord, to move forward in faith—to step out to what God has for you. Embrace God and embrace His promises. You will be blessed!
“But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence.” – Jeremiah 17:7 [NLT]
I rarely get to sleep in as I like to be up early in the morning during the school week to be sure the kids are prepared for their day. As well, Sunday mornings I start out early once again so I have time to read my Bible and prepare myself for worship. Only on Saturdays do I have an opportunity to catch a few extra winks; however, some weeks the schedule doesn’t allow for it. Since the school year is almost over, I had this great idea – I thought perhaps I can sleep in a little. Wouldn’t that be nice?!?
Today, I was delivered some news. My daughter handed me her schedule for practice. Looks like the very week school ends, practice begins. Not only is practice Monday through Friday, but it’s also on Saturday. I went from having this hope for a day or two extra to sleep in, but instead I have no chance to sleep in until the middle of October. The plan has failed.
We often make plans, but things don’t go as we plan. This can be frustrating and even discouraging. Remember that God has a great plan and He understands the big picture. Our thoughts and ways are very different from God (Isaiah 55:8). Our plans fail again and again; however, His plan will always be seen to completion (Philippians 1:6). We may try to plan our steps, but God determines them (see Proverbs 16:9). In this world, there will be suffering. We are promised it. There will be things we don’t understand. It’s guaranteed. Today, remember to rest in Him. Allow yourself to feel His loving embrace as you cling to His promises and trust in Him. Remember that though we stumble, we don’t completely fall for He holds us up (see Psalm 37:23-24). Today is going to be a good day!!
“God’s way is perfect. All the LORD’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.” – Psalm 18:30 [NLT]
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6 [NIV]
Every morning, there is the usual routine. After our daily walk (weather permitting), the dogs sit inside the kitchen awaiting their food. Typically, I’ll grab their bowls and get them water, followed by their food. There are moments when I need to do something quickly before feeding them. They still stand in their places, patiently waiting for their food. They know that their master will feed them. They trust it is coming. In time, the food comes.
The Bible references many promises of God. In Matthew 6, we read about how God cares for the birds—He makes sure they are fed. This illustration is shared to show us the importance of leaning into God and not succumbing to anxiety. Too often, we allow fear, anxiety, worry, and doubt to keep us from stepping into what God has ready for us. Rather than following His will and patiently trusting Him, we try to do things on our own and life becomes frazzled. We were never meant to do life alone on our strength.
Worry will get you nowhere. It cannot add a single hour to your life span. It cannot make the problem go away. It cannot change your circumstances. It cannot help in any way. Like my dogs stand patiently waiting to be fed, trusting in their master, we are to stand before our Master, trusting in Him. Even when nothing seems to go well—even when the circumstances look bad—cling to Him and His promises. Even when things are falling apart around you, stand firm in your faith. Wait obediently. He is faithful!
““Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” – Matthew 6:25-27 [ESV]
My dog Max often has intense dreams that get his paws moving. Early this morning, I woke up when I heard him whimpering. I did what I always do; I said, “It’s okay Max. It’s okay.” That is usually enough to calm him down. My voice. It is a voice he knows well – the voice of his master. It is a phrase I say to him a lot on our walks as I try to encourage him during his anxious, stressful moments.
This week, I am preparing a message about what Jesus said about anxiety and fear. After I told Max it would be “okay,” and he quickly calmed down, I considered how our Lord tells us in His Word that it will be “okay.” Sadly, we do not often take the time to listen to His voice or read His Word. Instead of resting in Him, instead of enjoying the peace only He offers, we allow ourselves to worry our days away.
I have seen anxiety rob friends and family of peace. I have seen the struggles of loved ones cause health problems, hospital visits, depression, and more. Worry, anxiety, fear—we all feel these things. Thankfully, we have a Father Who calls out to us. We have a Father Who still speaks to us. We have a Father Who embraces us, Who cares for us, Who knows our needs better than even we know them. He tells us to cast everything on Him. He promises He hears. He ensures His great purpose. Whatever you may be struggling with today, listen for His still small voice. Listen as He speaks to you. It’s going to be okay, my friends. Maybe it doesn’t look like it right now—but it will be okay.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7 [NASB]
“Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” – Colossians 2:7 [NLT]
In John, we read that the “children of God” became so because they “did receive him,” they “believed in His name.” So often we talk about when we “received” Jesus or “believed in Jesus.” To outsiders it may sound confusing. What does it mean to “receive Jesus”? This is something one may consider.
I remember when I was in college, we had to memorize the Prologue. It was a task I accepted but considered a bit strange because memorization tests are not always very fruitful with time. How many things have you memorized for a test and yet you can still remember today? But I understand the importance of this passage in John, which wraps everything up as a beautiful gift to open for all who read.
The gift we receive is Jesus Christ. The introduction speaks of a forerunner coming to prepare the way for the One Who, since the very beginning, was to come and redeem the world from sin that God knew would separate God from man. Many are overwhelmed by the words that speak of deity, life, light, flesh, law, truth, and grace. First, open the gift of Jesus Christ. Receive Him. Believe in Him. These two things are linked together. You cannot believe without receiving. You cannot receive something unless it was freely given. Jesus Christ laid down His life for you; He has been reaching out to you so you can come to know Him. If you receive, you believe. This is a belief of trust. If you believe, if you receive—you have the right to become a child of God.
“But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” – John 1:12