Archive | August 2014

The Parable of the Spider Webs and Raindrops

It rained last night and I’m watching raindrops fall from the trees as the wind blows. Spider web strands glisten in the morning light. I would think raindrops are heavier than spider web strands and would break them, but apparently not. Come to think of it, I’ve seen pictures of raindrops caught in spider webs.

Life is like a spider web strand – thin and tenuous. Just as raindrops don’t break spider webs, but add to their beauty and wonder, so too teardrops don’t break our lives, but add to our beauty and wonder. The spider web strand is deceptively strong – and so are we.

Insights from Genesis 12-22

Genesis 12:1 God told Abram to leave his relatives – he didn’t. Lot came with, strife erupted and Lot got the best land. God gives Abram one instruction, followed by seven promises, none of them material:
I will make of you a great nation
I will bless you
I will make your name great
You shall be a blessing
I will bless those who bless you
I will curse those who curse you
In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed
Think of all the blessings we miss out on when God gives us an instruction because we are looking for and focused on the material blessings.

Genesis 12:7 After Abram got to where God wanted him to go, he learned he was also to get the land and descendants to own it. First the spiritual promises, then the material. Spiritual outnumbers material 7 to 2. God is more concerned with our spiritual state and well-being than our material state and well-being. One instruction, seven promises, nine fulfillments.

Genesis 13 Abram didn’t have to let Lot choose. Abram as the elder, could have told Lot where to go. Lot should have deferred to his uncle and let him have the best land, but he took advantage of his uncle’s offer and his uncle (perhaps from the very beginning). Abram is slapped in the face by Lot, but greatly rewarded by God for doing the right and generous thing. God rewards sacrifice, doing what is right, being treated unfairly. Abram got the Promised Land. Lot lost everything in the fires of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Genesis 15:1 Abram was perfectly in God’s will. He obeyed, He gave God the glory and his material wealth, and refused additional gain. Then God spoke to him. God protects us from whatever Satan and the world and our thoughts throw at us. He can maneuver the shield better than we can. He has better vision (unlimited vision) and more flexibility. He never tires. We needn’t be afraid – we should let go and let God. God is our reward – better than the spoils of any war, than wealth of any kind. One reward is perfect protection. Don’t worry – God’s wealth is better than any material wealth.

Genesis 17:1 The first I AM was to Abram. El Shaddai. God Almighty. This is the first time God reveals a name for Himself and this is what He chooses – to doubly emphasize His strength and might. He wants Abram to walk before Him. Not with Him or after Him – He doesn’t say “follow Me”. Be blameless. God wants Abram to show Him a blameless life, so he has to walk before Him. In that culture, the trophies of war walked before their conqueror. If God has conquered our hearts, we walk before Him straight and tall – proud to be His possession.

Genesis 19:18-21 Lot repeats his mistake. Abram let him choose any part of the Promised Land when they separated. Lot chose the city – the city that is now being destroyed. The angel doesn’t say “choose”. He tells Lot to run to the mountains, but Lot is addicted to cities and can’t imagine living anywhere else, so he uses the excuse of it being a “just a little city”.

Genesis 22:1 After these things. After the fulfillment of the promise, the son, the material blessings, the people’s respect. After we have everything we’ve dreamed of, God tests us to see which is more important – who He is or what He gives.

Genesis 22:2 God leaves no room for doubt about what He wants. He tells Abraham four different ways so there can be no doubt and no excuses. “Your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac.” Maybe God was letting Abraham know that He knew exactly what and how much Isaac meant to him. Therefore, when God asks us to give up something, we can rest assured that He knows exactly what and how much it means to us.

God’s Word

“Rain and snow come down from the sky. They do not go back again until they water the earth. They make it sprout and grow so that it produces seed for farmers and food for people to eat. My word which comes from My mouth is like the rain and snow. It will not come back to Me without results. It will accomplish whatever I want and achieve whatever I send it to do.” Isaiah 55:10-11 (God’s Word Translation)

Think of all the different ways it rains. A few huge drops. Drops here and there. A light mist you scarcely notice. A gentle rain. A steady rain. A drenching downpour. The rain that travels sideways.

Think of all the different ways it snows. Little round balls. Small snowflakes, medium snowflakes. Flakes that glitter like Ivory Soap flakes. Snowflakes the size of quarters or half-dollars. Flakes like lace. Snow that hits the ground and melts. Snow that covers only the grass. Snow that’s light and can be blown away. Snow that has to be shoveled. Snow so wet and heavy, it takes a lot of effort to move it. Snow that piles up and drifts and lasts for months.

So it is with God’s Word. Sometimes one particular verse is all it takes to change a course, heal a hurt, encourage or comfort. Sometimes God’s Word is a light mist we scarcely notice. Sometimes every single word on the page comes to life for us and we let it soak in. Sometimes the Word is a downpour filling our empty souls and flowing over. Sometimes the Word assaults us by showing us our sins and failings.

Sometimes God’s Word is like little round balls of snow – it hurts when it hits home. There are certain passages that light up our souls like the snow that glistens like diamonds as the light of truth shines on it from every direction. Sometimes a verse is as beautiful to us as a huge snowflake falling lazily to the ground. Sometimes we read the Word and pass over it – it hits our hearts and melts instantly. Sometimes it gets through to our minds but not our hearts, or to our hearts but not our minds. Often times a verse is light and blows away easily – we soon forget it. Sometimes we have to work at getting to the meaning and application of a verse. Sometimes the Word presses on our hearts and spirits like heavy, wet snow. Sometimes the Word is as refreshing as a spring rain. Sometimes a passage stays with us for a lifetime.

God’s Word always brings results. The verse we’ve forgotten suddenly comes back to mind. The conviction eventually settles in. The Word sprouts, producing seed for us to share with others, and food for all who will partake. God’s Word will change minds, hearts, spirits and lives – if we allow it.

Insights from Genesis 4-11

Genesis 4:9 Perhaps the reason Cain offered the fruit of the ground was that he was too proud and/or too jealous of his brother to buy a lamb from him, or even to ask for one.

Genesis 4:11-12 Cain was a tiller of the ground (v 2). The punishment fits the person and the crime. Cain had no respect for God or the fruit of his labor, so God took it away.

Genesis 4:14 “from Thy face I shall be hidden” This wasn’t part of God’s punishment in verses 11-12. Did Cain add to God’s words just as his mother did in 3:3? Or is this the conclusion he came to? A self-imposed punishment? The true desire of his heart?

Genesis 5:29 Lamech saw his son as a kind of messiah, savior – a man who would ease the curse, the obstacles. He was partially right. Noah didn’t make their life any easier – he actually made it more difficult by pointing out how far they were from God. Noah was the one, though, who saved the animals and started the human race over again.

Genesis 6:3 The 900 year life spans of men was too much. The Holy Spirit strives with us, trying to get us to see God and follow Him. Much striving leads to shortened lives.

Genesis 6:6 Perhaps this isn’t sorry as in regret. Maybe it was mostly pity. God saw what man had become and was filled with pity, so much pity, His heart broke for them and the sorry state they had gotten themselves into.

Genesis 6:8 God bends to us to grant us favor and He bends His knee to bless us (the Hebrew word translated “bless”, means knee, to bend the knee). God is not distant – He is always bending toward us.

Genesis 6:17 When we are born, God breathes life into us. At the end of our lives when we die, we breathe out the breath He gave us.

Genesis 7:1 God is looking for righteous people.

Genesis 8:13 The occupants emerging from the ark is the completion of a kind of baptism. Albeit they were submerged a long time, still I see a parallel.

Genesis 10:9 In God’s opinion, Nimrod was a mighty hunter. God takes note of us for what we’re best at, and sometimes makes sure everyone knows it.

Genesis 11:6 The people disobeyed God’s command to fill the earth, and instead decided to congregate in one place and build a tower. God’s response was to create different tongues and scatter the people abroad. Years later, the early church fathers make the same mistake. Disobeying Jesus’ command to go into all the world, they stubbornly cling to Jerusalem. Having given them tongues to build the church, God now allows persecution to scatter them abroad.