Genesis 16:13 NKJV - "The she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, 'Have I also here seen Him who sees me?'"
Yesterday we began to look at Hagar, the house maid to Sarai, Abram's wife. She was put in a difficult relationship and forced into a situation she couldn't control. She was treated with contempt and eventually she attempted to flee from her trouble. When she felt utterly alone, God stepped in. He was aware of all that happened and He made the move to meet her where she was. Our Daily Verse of yesterday said that the Angel of the Lord, God Himself, told her to go back to her mistress. She was to submit to all her mistress wanted and Hagar eventually did return. But she wasn't alone! God went with her.
In our Daily Verse today Hagar expresses the joy she had in her heart which brought about the courage she needed to face a difficult life. She met God because God met her! And she came to trust this God who saw her! And she expressed her personal faith in Him by saying, "Have I also seen Him who sees me?" She found in God the One who cared and would give her the strength to be a part of God's plan. She probably didn't understand all God was doing, but she felt "safe and secure" with Him. God may not remove you from your pain and hardship, but He won't leave you to face it alone. He not only sees you, He's with you.
That's how God works. He sees us where we're at and He comes to us. He makes us aware of His love and shows us He can work in our lives and take every trouble and turn it into an opportunity to trust Him and see what He can do.
Hey Christian, some of you, including me, have been in some kind of situation we didn't want, but in the midst of our trouble God stepped in! He probably used another Christian or two to be His ambassadors to show us His love. And that's what He wants of you - be the person to show a troubled soul that there is Hope and Security in the "God-Who-Sees."
Genesis 16:9 NKJV - "The Angel of the Lord said to her [Hagar], 'Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand."
This verse is speaking of Sarai's maid, Hagar, who was "used" by Sarai to "obtain children by her" vs. 2. I look at Hagar as a woman caught up in a life she didn't want, couldn't avoid, and didn't know how to get out of, and probably wondered what in the world would she do if she could leave. She was a house-slave. Even though her master and mistress were Abram and Sarai (these were they're names at this point in Genesis. Later they would be known as Abraham and Sarah), she was still treated as an object they owned and used as they wished. There was no record of any request given to Hagar to be a 2nd wife to her master. She was basically told what to do and she had to obey. Yes, she did get pregnant and was with child, which most women in the land at that time always counted it a blessing to become pregnant. And she was fully aware of the frustration of her mistress, Sarai, who was getting very old and never was able to have a child. We see in verse 4 that when Hagar knew she was pregnant, she "despised" Sarai. And that set off a "fire-storm" in Abram's home. But it also led to Sarai treating Hagar so bad that Hagar "fled form her presence."
Hagar was used, misused, abused (by Sarai), confused, and ultimately refused. And by verse 6 and 7 she was alone and totally forsaken. But, not quite "totally." God was there in the Person of the Angel of the Lord. He asked Hagar a two-part question, "...where have you come from?" and "...where are you going?" (This is very similar to what would happen to Elijah as recorded in 1 Kings 19. Read that sometime). Hagar could only answer the first part of the question, she was "...fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai." She didn't have an answer for the second part. Obviously, she probably didn't have a clue where she should go.
Ever feel like you're in Hagar's place? You got into a life you didn't choose, got involved with things you may have agreed to do, but with little comprehension of the consequences to your actions. Now, or at one time you felt used, abused, confused, and ultimately refused, just like Hagar. You're running from the past but you don't have a clue where you're going! And you feel alone. Well, not quite, from my vantage point. Look up, God is fully aware of what is going on in your life. Psalm 33:13-16 NLT, "The Lord looks down from heaven and sees the whole human race [including you]. From His throne He observes all who live on the earth. He made their hearts, so He understands everything they do." He understands you. And He knows what you've faced, why you're on the run, but He knows where you can go. Where's that, you ask? Take time to read all of Genesis 16. You'll see the answer, but I'll comment on that in tomorrow's Daily Verse.
Proverbs 19:3 NLT "People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord."
This verse goes along with Galatians 6:7, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." You can't live a reckless life and think you won't suffer the consequences. Just like reckless driving, someone is either going to get hurt or something is going to get destroyed. An old saying I heard years ago said, "If you sow wild oats when you're young, don't blame God for the harvest!" That's what our Daily Verse is saying.
So much anger at God is misdirected. We shouldn't be angry at God for allowing us to face the consequences of our sins. Romans 5:12 reminds us that "sin brings death" and that should make us realize that sin also brings destruction. God didn't make us sin! And we can't blame Him if He didn't stop us! His Word is there for us to read, and obey (James 1:22). If we just "read only" and never "do" what the Bible says, we can't blame God for the results!
Now, let me show you the "other" side to this. If it is true that "what you sow, you reap" then think of what Paul said in Galatians 6:8b, "...but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life." The "sowing-reaping" model is true with whatever you "sow." A Christian, living for the Lord, is planting seeds of good deeds, encouraging words, a pleasant attitude. That Christian can expect a harvest of souls saved, Christians encouraged, and God's word spreading to the lost, and in all this God gets the glory and the Christian enjoys watching that happen.
As you start each day think this: "Start your day with prayer, praise, and pondering God's Word and you'll end your day with joy, gladness, and no regrets!"
Psalm 40:3 NKJV - "He has put a new song in mouth praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord."
I witnessed something this very evening that I don't think needs a lot of commentary. But this verse fits what happened.
For some years I have had the privilege of watching Angelique grow in her faith in Christ. The Lord put a "New Song" in her and she shared this song with others wherever she went. One of her co-workers, Ruthie recognized that something was different in Angelique's life and before too long, Angelique led Ruthie to trust Christ as her Savior. Ruthie began to grow in her faith and began to come to our weekly Bible Study. The Lord had put a "New Song" in her life as well, and others began to notice, including another co-worker, Dyana. Ruthie began to speak with Dyana about what she was hearing at Bible Study. Well, tonight (Wednesday) Dyana came to see for herself. Before the evening was over she recognized the truth of John 3:16 - God loved her, sent His Son Jesus to die for her and would give her eternal life as she believed on Him. She saw that doing good works or not being bad wasn't even mentioned in that verse. She saw that it was by God's grace that she could be saved.
A "New Song" started in Angelique's life, it was shared with Ruthie, who then shared it with Dyana. Now Dyana has something to share with whoever the Lord places in her life. What about you? Has the Lord given you a New Song to sing? Who is hearing you? Who "will trust in the Lord" because of you?
James 1:2 NLT - "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come to you, consider it an opportunity for great joy."
Probably every time someone has read these words for the first time they probably wondered how could anyone say that trouble brings opportunity for "great joy"?! But one of the facts of life is that you don't enjoy good health without sickness! You don't grow strong without experiencing weakness. You don't enjoy friendship until you learn to face loneliness. You really don't enjoy wealth until you know what its like to be poor. You also don't enjoy life until you face the fear of losing it. And I could go on and on.
You learn a lot when the going is tough. Just ask any soldier or Marine. Ask any lineman on a football team. Ask any quarterback too! Getting hit and being tackled a few times strengthens you and prepares you for the troubles you will undoubtedly face in any game. The same is true in life. Troubles have a way of helping us to learn endurance and patience. That's exactly what James points to in his first letter.
One of the qualities lacking in many Christians today is endurance. Being able to keep going when the going gets tough is part of Christian living. Paul spoke of enduring hardness and being faithful even unto death. The writer of Hebrews 11 gives example after example of those whose faith grew strong in the midst of adversity. Jesus made it clear that following Him up "Calvary's Road" was no "walk in the park!" It meant pain, mocking, imprisonment, even torture and death. But many have traveled that road for Jesus' sake. They saw the victories gained along the way as they shared the Gospel of Christ with the lost. Reaching the lost is often done when the roads you have to travel are dangerous.
I could go on and on. But my encouragement for those of you who really strive to grow strong in the Lord is that you will not shrink away from trouble. Don't go looking for it, but when it comes, learn the joys that trouble can lead you to have as you see yourself growing stronger and your endurance lasting longer in your walk with your Savior. I'm praying for you.
Mark 1:37,38 NKJV - "When they found Him, they said to Him, 'Everyone is looking for You.' But He said to them, 'Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.'"
Have you ever felt guilty because you didn't do "something for the Lord" because you already were? Some of you know how I feel at times when I'm busy with what needs to be done, including reaching out to other people and then having more needs "thrown" at me almost demanding my immediate attention. Should I alter my ministry plans to take on a "more pressing matter?" That's a tough decision to make and I don't want to go the "wrong way."
Our Daily Verses show the disciples coming to Jesus with the word that many people were searching for Him. He apparently "put off" this request by saying He had many others to reach as well. Of course, He is God and He always knew what was the priority matter to handle. We're certainly not God and we sometimes wonder which way to go. I had that happen again most recently and I just felt I had to put off the "urgent" matter and continue on with the ministry I was already involved with. It's not an easy decision to make!
Some years ago I was in an auto repair shop. My eye caught a statement printed and posted for all to see. It said, "The emergency on your part does not constitute a crisis on our part." In other words, "take a number and you'll be served in order of who is next in line." Not necessarily Biblical, but sometimes that's the practical wisdom we have to follow.
If your day starts with serious prayer, you'll find the "immediate wisdom" coming to you when those tough decisions have to be made. If you're seriously trusting the Lord and seeking Him each day He will never let you down. My encouragement to you is to busy yourself at what you know God wants you to do. If He allows other matters to come to your attention you can trust Him to guide you. Sometimes sharing the load is the right way to go. Pray that others would sense God's call to be helpers in the work. That's part of what discipleship is about.
Philippians 1:22a NKJV - "But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor..."
Paul had just stated that "...death was gain" but he was willing to keep living as long as the Lord wanted him to. He didn't just "give up" when everybody probably thought "he had done enough." This is an old theme but one that needs repeating. A dedicated believer doesn't stop serving the Lord even when their body wears out and they feel they would just like to die and go home! I'm sure many a believer felt that way shortly before their death. I personally have stayed by the bedside of quite a number of Christians who were "ready to go home." And most of them, if not all, had served Christ faithfully far beyond the normal "work life" of most humans.
Paul somehow knew God had more for him to do. And he was not only willing to go on living, but he was also willing to go on serving. He had said in Acts 20:24, "But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy..." When he wrote to the Philippians he knew that he hadn't "crossed the finish line" yet. He was willing to keep going even if it meant literally wearing his body out for Christ.
I don't want to deny any hard working person the opportunity to get some rest in their elderly years. From a human standpoint, they deserved it. But Paul's attitude, as expressed in our Daily Verse, suggested that he didn't look at a certain age to be the time to "hang up his tools" and just sit back and rock himself into a grave. No! He knew he had more work to do and he would rather die serving than die sitting.
Luke 13:34 NKJV - "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem...How often I wanted to gather your children together...but you were not willing!"
"I would." "You were not willing!" Those two phrases say a lot! Jesus explained to the Jewish people that He had so many things He would have loved to do for them, but they refused His presence in their lives and they turned Him away, or perhaps more accurately, they turned themselves away from Him. How much God could have done through His people during the Old Testament times if they would have welcomed Him as their God, loved Him with all their hearts, obeyed His commands, and walked with Him! Over and over again in the Old Testament God gave these people opportunity to confess and repent of their sins and turn back to Him and He would have abundantly blessed them! See Isaiah 55:6,7.
And, now Christian, what about you? Is Jesus not calling out to you to "deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Me?" Luke 9:23. God would bless your life "beyond measure" and use you in ways you can't even dream about now. See 1 Corinthians 2:9. He wants to bless you! Will you let Him? Or will you ignore His pleading and go on with your mediocre life and shallow worship?
Am I being a little harsh? Yes, I'm sure I am, but you know why? Because that's what God is saying to me about me! I don't want to keep meandering through life and ignore the "great and mighty things" God would love to do in and through my life! God is a great God. And someone once said, "God is not insulted in the least when we cry out to Him for great things! He's actually honored that we see in Him the God who has unlimited resources and who has a willingness to pour out His grandest blessings on those who will be bold enough to ask Him!"
What's it going to be with you? You going to settle for a "ho-hum" Christian life? Or are you willing to cry out to God for a change, a mighty change in your life! He's ready to do that! Are you?
1 Corinthians 10:10 NKJV - "Nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer."
Simply put: Complainers hardly pray. Those who pray hard, hardly complain!
Which one describes you?
Are you filled with disgust, upsets, anger, discouragement, fear, envy, jealousy, and the like? Can you honestly say you adore and worship the Lord EVERY DAY and spend at least one hour in prayer daily? I kind of feel if you answered the first question, "yes", you probably answered the second question, "no."
On the other hand, are you finding witnessing (even a simple "God bless you") is rather easy to do? Are you finding God's peace flooding your heart; your love for the Lord is deepening; you seek to encourage those in ministry with kind support and a LOT of prayer support? If all of that is true, do you find yourself complaining a lot; getting discouraged a lot; can't remember the last time you gave a word of witness to someone? Again, I think if you answered the first two questions with a "Yes!" you very likely answered the last question with a resounding "NO!"
Christian, like our Daily Verse warns, if you spend your life complaining you're right in the "cross-hairs" of Satan's darts! On the other hand, if you're spending quality time with the Lord in prayer, worshipping Him and then pleading with Him on behalf of others, you'll find Satan "heading for the hills!"
Don't let Satan trip you up. Send him packing! PRAY and PRAY HARD! I will hardly have to say, "Complain less."
Psalm 119:165 KJV - "Great peace have they who love Thy law; and nothing shall offend them."
Are you easily offended? Words people say; "looks" you get from others that are condescending; snubs from people who you thought were friends; any number of other ways others do things that upset you? Do you seek revenge? Or do you just slink away and hide because you're embarrassed? Many, if not everyone, has been through some kind of unpleasant treatment at the hands of another. And, yes, even Christians can face this kind of encounter.
You can't necessarily avoid the attempts of others to insult you. Jesus made it pretty clear that His disciples, including you and me, would face all kinds of verbal and even physical abuse because of our association with Him. John 15:18, "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you."
How can you "steel yourself" against the insults and snubs of others? Our Daily Verse offers a great "shield." God's Word make clear that God is on the side of those who put their trust in Him. Remember what we've said before from Romans 8:31b, "...if God is for us, who can be against us?" The way I read that is, "If God is for me, then why in the world am I concerned with whose against me?!" If I have God's approval, why am I feeling low if others don't approve me? Of course, this is where our love for God's Word means we not only read it but we believe it. When you know you're doing what God wants you to do, because you're obeying HIs Word, then you can "weather the storms" of offending treatment from others. Take God at His Word and believe He not only loves you but He's on your side!
Daily commentary and insight from Pastor Eckardt.
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Mt Ephraim Baptist Church | 25 S. Black Horse Pike | Mt Ephraim, NJ 08059
Senior Pastor, Stephen A. Eckardt | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Phone: 856.981.7288