Sunday 30 June, 2019

Genesis 24:62-67

62 Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev. 63 He went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. 64 Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel 65 and asked the servant, “Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?” “He is my master,” the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself. 66 Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. 67 Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

This is the result of both Abraham’s obedience to and hope in the promises of God.

God’s promise was not only to Abraham but to his descendants. At this time Abraham only had one descendant – Isaac. After Sarah died, there would be no other heirs to the promise.

If Rebekah had not agreed to leave her family, then Abraham’s servant was released from his task.

The result was not only did God maintain his promise but Isaac was comforted by Rebekah.

Whatever God has promised will bring comfort when there might seem to be none. Our part is to not give up on what God has spoken over us. Even when it looks like it won’t happen or that there is no comfort from our troubles or sorrows, hope in God.

Trust him, his plans are not only for you, but also for the people that he “causes to work for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” – Rom 8:28.

Father, I thank you for always keeping your promises to me. Thank you for the comfort those promises can bring. I will again trust you in all things.

Written by Andrew Martin

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Saturday 29 June, 2019

Genesis 24:50-61

50 Laban and Bethuel answered, “This is from the Lord; we can say nothing to you one way or the other. 51 Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has directed.” 52 When Abraham’s servant heard what they said, he bowed down to the ground before the Lord. 53 Then the servant brought out gold and silver jewelry and articles of clothing and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave costly gifts to her brother and to her mother. 54 Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night there. When they got up the next morning, he said, “Send me on my way to my master.” 55 But her brother and her mother replied, “Let the young woman remain with us ten days or so; then you[a] may go.” 56 But he said to them, “Do not detain me, now that the Lord has granted success to my journey. Send me on my way so I may go to my master.” 57 Then they said, “Let’s call the young woman and ask her about it.” 58 So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?” “I will go,” she said. 59 So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham’s servant and his men. 60 And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, “Our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands; may your offspring possess the cities of their enemies.” 61 Then Rebekah and her attendants got ready and mounted the camels and went back with the man. So the servant took Rebekah and left.

Over the years preceding this passage, God has been speaking to Abraham, making promises to him and gradually fulfilling them. Abraham has, after several hiccups along the way, grown in his faith and come to trust in God’s word and promises to him.

And now it is Rebekah’s turn!

Although we may look at these marriage arrangements and feel uncomfortable, we know that they were quite normal for the culture of the time. That’s not to say it would be easy. Rebekah is a valuable member of her family, who is a hard worker, strong, honourable, and hospitable. She commands the respect of her family members, males included, and makes the decision to leave immediately herself, despite the family’s wishes to delay for 10 days (presumably to prepare well, become accustomed to the idea and to say their final farewells).

It would require an enormous amount of courage to leave your family just one day after a stranger asks you to leave with him to marry a man you’ve never met, move to a land you have not seen, leaving behind your home, family and community. In fact, it would require more than courage ….it would require great faith. Faith that God has planned and will use her for his purposes, for his glory.

I wonder if we are this available to God. When a challenging way of serving him is presented to us, are we prepared to jump straight in and follow his lead? Or do we require “10 days” to process it, assess the pros and cons and tidy up loose ends?

Dear Lord, Please help us to trust you wholeheartedly, to search you out and be ready and willing to respond when we hear you calling. Amen

Written by Jocelyn Petschack

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Friday 28 June, 2019

Genesis 24:28-49

28 The young woman ran and told her mother’s household about these things. 29 Now Rebekah had a brother named Laban, and he hurried out to the man at the spring. 30 As soon as he had seen the nose ring, and the bracelets on his sister’s arms, and had heard Rebekah tell what the man said to her, he went out to the man and found him standing by the camels near the spring. 31 “Come, you who are blessed by the Lord,” he said. “Why are you standing out here? I have prepared the house and a place for the camels.” 32 So the man went to the house, and the camels were unloaded. Straw and fodder were brought for the camels, and water for him and his men to wash their feet. 33 Then food was set before him, but he said, “I will not eat until I have told you what I have to say.” “Then tell us,” Laban said. 34 So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. 35 The Lord has blessed my master abundantly, and he has become wealthy. He has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, male and female servants, and camels and donkeys. 36 My master’s wife Sarah has borne him a son in her old age, and he has given him everything he owns. 37 And my master made me swear an oath, and said, ‘You must not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live, 38 but go to my father’s family and to my own clan, and get a wife for my son.’ 39 “Then I asked my master, ‘What if the woman will not come back with me?’ 40 “He replied, ‘The Lord, before whom I have walked faithfully, will send his angel with you and make your journey a success, so that you can get a wife for my son from my own clan and from my father’s family. 41 You will be released from my oath if, when you go to my clan, they refuse to give her to you—then you will be released from my oath.’ 42 “When I came to the spring today, I said, ‘Lord, God of my master Abraham, if you will, please grant success to the journey on which I have come. 43 See, I am standing beside this spring. If a young woman comes out to draw water and I say to her, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar,” 44 and if she says to me, “Drink, and I’ll draw water for your camels too,” let her be the one the Lord has chosen for my master’s son.’ 45 “Before I finished praying in my heart, Rebekah came out, with her jar on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water, and I said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’ 46 “She quickly lowered her jar from her shoulder and said, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too.’ So I drank, and she watered the camels also. 47 “I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ “She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel son of Nahor, whom Milkah bore to him.’ “Then I put the ring in her nose and the bracelets on her arms, 48 and I bowed down and worshiped the Lord. I praised the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right road to get the granddaughter of my master’s brother for his son. 49 Now if you will show kindness and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so I may know which way to turn.”

In this passage, Abraham’s servant is giving an account of what took place between him and Rebekah. What stands out to me most is verse 48, where the servant says, “I praised the Lord… who had led me on the right road”. He recognised that it was by God’s leading that he met the woman for Isaac. His response to ‘walking the right road’ was praise and worship.

This causes me to reflect on the ways in which God leads my life. I am reminded that God goes before me and makes my path straight when I follow and trust Him. My response to His leading should be daily praise, because He is always with me.

Thank You God, for always going before me and leading me on the right road. Please help me to look to You afresh and follow the path You have for me. May I take the time to stop and praise You today as You answer my prayers, because You are always faithful.

Written by Ps. Laura Samperi

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Thursday 27 June, 2019

Genesis 24:10-27

10 Then the servant left, taking with him ten of his master’s camels loaded with all kinds of good things from his master. He set out for Aram Naharaim and made his way to the town of Nahor. 11 He had the camels kneel down near the well outside the town; it was toward evening, the time the women go out to draw water. 12 Then he prayed, “Lord, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. 13 See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. 14 May it be that when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.” 15 Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milkah, who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor. 16 The woman was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever slept with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again. 17 The servant hurried to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water from your jar.” 18 “Drink, my lord,” she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink. 19 After she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have had enough to drink.” 20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels. 21 Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the Lord had made his journey successful. 22 When the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold nose ring weighing a beka and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels. 23 Then he asked, “Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?” 24 She answered him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son that Milkah bore to Nahor.” 25 And she added, “We have plenty of straw and fodder, as well as room for you to spend the night.” 26 Then the man bowed down and worshiped the Lord, 27 saying, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the Lord has led me on the journey to the house of my master’s relatives.”

The Old Testament has lots of stories about what God says and how he acts in his world and amongst his people. It has even more stories about what people say and do. How God responds to the sometimes good, but more often foolish or evil things his people do tell us a lot about his character.

The servant’s way of finding a wife for Isaac is his idea and isn’t one to copy. But his faith that God will answer when he calls out for help is. That God does answer in the middle of this crazy match making scheme tells me some important things about God.

It speaks to me about God’s faithfulness. Not only is he faithful in fulfilling his covenant with Abraham to bless all people (including us) through his family and specifically through Isaac, he’s also faithful in speaking into, and intervening in the situations that are just plain too hard for us.

It also says to me that he does care about our families too, including who we marry and how we live in our families. It tells me that taking God with you on the date isn’t an awkward threesome. It’s the key to the richest human relationship of all. God has lots of things to say about how marriages should work well, but I’ve found that sharing a love for God is the key to growing into the marriage and family that has been an enormous blessing to me.

I think it’s significant too, that although Rebekah was “very beautiful”, it was her generosity of spirit that marked her out as the right one. That the servant hurried to meet her perhaps suggest he was hoping it would be her, but he still allowed room for God to say “no”.

Lord, thank you that you care about me and that you care for my family. Be part of all my decisions today – especially part of my foolish plans that need correction.

Written by David Cornell

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Wednesday 26 June, 2019

Genesis 24:1-9

24 Abraham was now very old, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. 2 He said to the senior servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh. 3 I want you to swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, 4 but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.” 5 The servant asked him, “What if the woman is unwilling to come back with me to this land? Shall I then take your son back to the country you came from?” 6 “Make sure that you do not take my son back there,” Abraham said. 7 “The Lord, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father’s household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, ‘To your offspring[a] I will give this land’—he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there. 8 If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there.” 9 So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore an oath to him concerning this matter.

This passage paints such a strong image of a good father’s desire to provide for his child. We see this as Abraham desires to provide for his son Isaac, but also in the way Abraham was provided for as a child of God.

Abraham is coming to the end of his days, and he is aware of the need to help secure a wife for his Isaac.

However not just any wife will do – Abraham instructs his servant to make an oath with him that he will find Isaac a wife from Abraham’s own people. When his servant has questions, Abraham is so confident that the Lord will provide guidance by way of an angel so that the servant will know which woman is right.

Abraham wants Isaac to have a wife from his own people that will be a blessing to him in marriage, because he is a good father who wants to provide well for his son.

He knows that the Lord will provide guidance here because He himself has been the recipient of the blessings of God – the best father. In fact, this passage tells us that God had blessed Abraham in every possible way!

I love Abraham’s confidence in God’s ability to provide. He has seen God at work so many times in his life, that he can speak with such faith that God will continue to provide for his son Isaac. May we also live with the same faith, trusting God to provide for all our needs.

God, thank you that you are a good father. Thank you that you love to provide for us, your children. Help us today to live in faith, remembering all the ways you have provided for and blessed us. We thank you for all that you do in our lives. Amen.

Written by Ps. Madelaine Tarasenko

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Tuesday 25 June, 2019

Genesis 23:1-20

23 Sarah lived to be a hundred and twenty-seven years old. 2 She died at Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep over her. 3 Then Abraham rose from beside his dead wife and spoke to the Hittites. He said, 4 “I am a foreigner and stranger among you. Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my dead.” 5 The Hittites replied to Abraham, 6 “Sir, listen to us. You are a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will refuse you his tomb for burying your dead.” 7 Then Abraham rose and bowed down before the people of the land, the Hittites. 8 He said to them, “If you are willing to let me bury my dead, then listen to me and intercede with Ephron son of Zohar on my behalf 9 so he will sell me the cave of Machpelah, which belongs to him and is at the end of his field. Ask him to sell it to me for the full price as a burial site among you.” 10 Ephron the Hittite was sitting among his people and he replied to Abraham in the hearing of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of his city. 11 “No, my lord,” he said. “Listen to me; I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. I give it to you in the presence of my people. Bury your dead.” 12 Again Abraham bowed down before the people of the land 13 and he said to Ephron in their hearing, “Listen to me, if you will. I will pay the price of the field. Accept it from me so I can bury my dead there.” 14 Ephron answered Abraham, 15 “Listen to me, my lord; the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver, but what is that between you and me? Bury your dead.” 16 Abraham agreed to Ephron’s terms and weighed out for him the price he had named in the hearing of the Hittites: four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weight current among the merchants. 17 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 18 to Abraham as his property in the presence of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of the city. 19 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. 20 So the field and the cave in it were deeded to Abraham by the Hittites as a burial site.

How far do I go to convince someone?

I love this passage of scripture but isn’t it just so awkward to read?!

This is bargaining over payment of a funeral!

And it just seems to go on and on and on and on.

Both parties seem to be unable to move from their position, both wanting the upper hand in honour.

If I genuinely believed the right thing to do was to give someone money that they didn’t seem to want to accept, I wonder how hard I would try to convince someone to let me pay them.

Beyond this, todays passage reminds me of the circumstances around Jesus’ betrayal and burial:

Jesus was betrayed for only 20 pieces of silver, but Judas tried to return the money.

Joseph of Aramathea owned a freshly excavated burial plot but gave it to Jesus without charge.

Without knowing, Abraham was foreshadowing the coming of Jesus.

I wonder whether my actions reflect Christ to other people?

Lord, help me to be a person of integrity who reflects Christ to the world.

Written by Ps. Justin Ware 

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Monday 24 June, 2019

Genesis 22:15-24

15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” 19 Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba. 20 Some time later Abraham was told, “Milkah is also a mother; she has borne sons to your brother Nahor: 21 Uz the firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel (the father of Aram), 22 Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph and Bethuel.” 23 Bethuel became the father of Rebekah. Milkah bore these eight sons to Abraham’s brother Nahor. 24 His concubine, whose name was Reumah, also had sons: Tebah, Gaham, Tahash and Maakah.

God’s promise to Abraham was to bless him and give him a secure future yet in this passage we find Abraham being tested with the very thing God had promised: his son.

When I am tested with the promises God gives me – when circumstances seem opposite to how I think it will be fulfilled or when an opportunity presents itself for me to make sure I get what I’m after – how do I respond? By not withholding Isaac, we see Abraham fully trust the Father to provide and fulfil His promise. Abraham did not worry about missing out or losing.

Can I do the same? Which do I hold more tightly to – the promised result or my relationship with my Heavenly Father? Am I more interested in receiving things that secure my future or am I more interested in the one who holds my future?

Only the testing will reveal my heart.

Father, again I am reminded that You are for me and want to bless me. Help me not to be so focused on outcomes and promised results but more on You.

Written by Gab Martin

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Sunday 23 June, 2019

Genesis 22:9-14

9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. 12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” 13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

I don’t like this story – got to be honest. I don’t like that God would put Abraham in that position. I get it that Abraham was the Father of Faith – the guy clearly had great faith and confidence in God. I get the author of Hebrews’ angle too – that God would raise the boy back to life (see Hebrews 11:17-19). But still – why would God test Abraham in that way? What if God tests me in that way?

Honestly, these questions are too big for me and I don’t have an answer. But one thing I do see – the obvious prophetic nature of the whole event. The clear pointing to a time still to come when a Father would offer His son as a sacrifice for me – in my place. And at that moment – that future sacrifice – there would be no reprieve. Jesus would take the full penalty of my sin – without any last-minute rescue.

Oh, the love and grace poured out for me that caused you, Heavenly Father, such immeasurable pain. And Jesus, for willingly taking all my sin upon yourself. What can I say – what can I do – but to offer my whole life in surrender and worship.


Written by Boudy Van Noppen

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Saturday 22 June, 2019

Genesis 22:1-8

22 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. 2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” 3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” 6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” 8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

As I read this story about Abraham and Isaac I cringe. I think how could a father do this? It’s not right. How could he obey in this situation? How could God ask it of him? What sort of God is this? Why is this story told?

Then I am hit with this phrase..

“God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering.”

Jesus was a man. A real man. As real as Isaac. He was a son. A real son. A one and only Son. Just like Isaac. He was obedient. He carried his own wood for the offering. Like Isaac. But for Jesus (and for his Father, God) there was no other lamb. He, Jesus, was the lamb that God provided.

God did not and will not ask of any other father to do this. No father is to sacrifice his son. For no other son is perfect. No other son is unblemished. No other son could take upon himself the sin of the world. Only Jesus. Gods one and only son. The perfect man. The perfect son.

This is a prophecy. A prophetic story. A story told before Jesus came. A story to tell of Him, the Son of God who will come as a man and carry his own wood and hang on it himself as an offering for all. Taking away the sins of all, so that they might be set right with God and know Him. This is a prophetic promise story.

Thank you God for providing the lamb. Thank you for sending your one and only Son Jesus to die for me. Thank you for taking my sin. Thank you for making me clean. I believe in you. Thank you, that I now have eternal life because of all you have done for me.

Written by Ps. Zoe Stewart

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Friday 21 June, 2019

Genesis 21:22-34

22 At that time Abimelek and Phicol the commander of his forces said to Abraham, “God is with you in everything you do. 23 Now swear to me here before God that you will not deal falsely with me or my children or my descendants. Show to me and the country where you now reside as a foreigner the same kindness I have shown to you.” 24 Abraham said, “I swear it.” 25 Then Abraham complained to Abimelek about a well of water that Abimelek’s servants had seized. 26 But Abimelek said, “I don’t know who has done this. You did not tell me, and I heard about it only today.” 27 So Abraham brought sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelek, and the two men made a treaty. 28 Abraham set apart seven ewe lambs from the flock, 29 and Abimelek asked Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs you have set apart by themselves?” 30 He replied, “Accept these seven lambs from my hand as a witness that I dug this well.” 31 So that place was called Beersheba,[a] because the two men swore an oath there. 32 After the treaty had been made at Beersheba, Abimelek and Phicol the commander of his forces returned to the land of the Philistines. 33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the Lord, the Eternal God. 34 And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time.

Abimalech, King of Gerar, was keen to make a treaty with Abraham. He has seen firsthand the way that God has protected Abraham and Sarah (in Gen 20) and also provided for them (Gen 21:1-7). It is clear to Abimalech that Abraham is living under the blessing of God. He can see the strength and power that such an allegiance provides and feels the threat that Abraham now brings to him and his people.

Abraham is not afraid to make a promise to Abimalech to deal honestly and kindly with him and his people. He also is confident that he is living under the blessing of a good God. He knows God has made promises to him and will fulfil them.

Am I that bold? Am I unafraid? Am I confident to step into situations because I know I am living under the blessing of a good God? Do I trust His promises to me?

What are God’s promises to me? God promises that He is good, that he is with me and goes before me, that He will strengthen me and give me rest, that He has a good plan for me and will provide for me, that he hears my prayers and gives me eternal life. The list goes on.

Now I just need to expect to see them come to pass.

Lord you are good to me in so many ways. May my heart be full of hope and expectation as I set out into this day. Give me eyes to see your blessings in my life and lips to tell of your praises.

Written by Jocelyn Petschack

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