Thursday 11 July, 2019

Genesis 27:41-28:5

41 Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” 42 When Rebekah was told what her older son Esau had said, she sent for her younger son Jacob and said to him, “Your brother Esau is planning to avenge himself by killing you. 43 Now then, my son, do what I say: Flee at once to my brother Laban in Harran. 44 Stay with him for a while until your brother’s fury subsides. 45 When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him, I’ll send word for you to come back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?” 46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I’m disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living.” 28 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him: “Do not marry a Canaanite woman. 2 Go at once to Paddan Aram, to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. 3 May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. 4 May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now reside as a foreigner, the land God gave to Abraham.” 5 Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, who was the mother of Jacob and Esau.

I love that the Bible tells it like it is.  Family intrigue, jealousy, scheming parents, scheming children you name it the Bible’s got it.

You would expect some sanitisation but God is more than happy to show humanity as we really are. Why? Because we need a Saviour and the great narrative of the Bible shows us for who we are our best and our worst.

Father, as I read your Word I am reminded of the depths of my sinfulness.  May I never lose sight of the depth of my need of salvation as Your Holy Spirit brings conviction and I cry out for Your mercy, cleansing and salvation.

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Wednesday 10 July, 2019

Genesis 27:30-40

30 After Isaac finished blessing him, and Jacob had scarcely left his father’s presence, his brother Esau came in from hunting. 31 He too prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father. Then he said to him, “My father, please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.” 32 His father Isaac asked him, “Who are you?” “I am your son,” he answered, “your firstborn, Esau.” 33 Isaac trembled violently and said, “Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him—and indeed he will be blessed!” 34 When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me—me too, my father!” 35 But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.” 36 Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob? This is the second time he has taken advantage of me: He took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing!” Then he asked, “Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me?” 37 Isaac answered Esau, “I have made him lord over you and have made all his relatives his servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine. So what can I possibly do for you, my son?” 38 Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!” Then Esau wept aloud. 39 His father Isaac answered him, “Your dwelling will be away from the earth’s richness, away from the dew of heaven above. 40 You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother. But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck.”

Verse 37 fascinates me. Isaac’s blessing of Jacob is definite. What Jacob has pronounced will come to pass – Jacob will be Lord over Esau, with all his relatives his servants, sustained with grain and new wine. In this passage there is a serious and significant power to the spoken word, especially from Isaac. It’s a great contrast to our modern day experience with words. Words are cheap, and there are lots of them in circulation no matter where you turn.

This passage causes me to reflect on the use of my words – if my words had the power to create such life-giving blessing (or otherwise create the opposite), how would I choose to speak? The truth is, the bible does elsewhere say my words have the power of life and death. I must choose to bring life, give life, and sustain life in those I speak to.

Lord, I need your help to keep speaking life-giving blessing through my words. Let my words carry such power from you, amen.

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

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Tuesday 9 July, 2019

Genesis 27:5-29

5 Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau left for the open country to hunt game and bring it back, 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, 7 ‘Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the Lord before I die.’ 8 Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: 9 Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. 10 Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.” 11 Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “But my brother Esau is a hairy man while I have smooth skin. 12 What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing.” 13 His mother said to him, “My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me.” 14 So he went and got them and brought them to his mother, and she prepared some tasty food, just the way his father liked it. 15 Then Rebekah took the best clothes of Esau her older son, which she had in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob. 16 She also covered his hands and the smooth part of his neck with the goatskins. 17 Then she handed to her son Jacob the tasty food and the bread she had made. 18 He went to his father and said, “My father.” “Yes, my son,” he answered. “Who is it?” 19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me. Please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.” 20 Isaac asked his son, “How did you find it so quickly, my son?” “The Lord your God gave me success,” he replied. 21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come near so I can touch you, my son, to know whether you really are my son Esau or not.” 22 Jacob went close to his father Isaac, who touched him and said, “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” 23 He did not recognize him, for his hands were hairy like those of his brother Esau; so he proceeded to bless him. 24 “Are you really my son Esau?” he asked. “I am,” he replied. 25 Then he said, “My son, bring me some of your game to eat, so that I may give you my blessing.” Jacob brought it to him and he ate; and he brought some wine and he drank. 26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come here, my son, and kiss me.” 27 So he went to him and kissed him. When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him and said, “Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed. 28 May God give you heaven’s dew and earth’s richness— an abundance of grain and new wine. 29 May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed.”

What a scripture! A soap opera of alliances, deceptions, crimes and lies, that lead to a family divided and in danger.

Why do they choose this avenue? They have seen, throughout the generations, Gods provision and God’s promises fulfilled. But they struggle, in their situation to trust in God’s providence and ability to come through on his words. They take the situation into their own hands and they don’t use Godly ways to turn this situation around. And it goes wrong.

It can be hard to trust God and wait for Him to change situations. Doing things without manipulating situations or people. It can be hard not to take back control. But taking back control and living in this way has consequences. Here we see ever increasing lies, stealing and deception that leads to a family divided, resentment and bitterness, and a brother in significant danger.

In this passage we don’t get to see the end. But SPOILER ALERT God forgives their wrong actions, he keeps his promises and turns their situation around. Why? Because of His loving faithfulness and enduring kindness.

Thankyou God that we can trust you. That you turn situations around. Help us to live with integrity trusting you. And when we fail to do so, to come to you for your forgiveness. Thankyou you love us with a never-ending faithful love.

Written by Ps. Zoe Stewart

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Monday 8 July, 2019

Genesis 27:1-4

27 When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he called for Esau his older son and said to him, “My son.” “Here I am,” he answered. 2 Isaac said, “I am now an old man and don’t know the day of my death. 3 Now then, get your equipment—your quiver and bow—and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me. 4 Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing before I die.”

Isaac is feeling close to death. He is virtually blind and dependent on others. He asks Esau to prepare him his comfort food as an act of love (see Gen 25:27-28 their special bond was over hunting & food.)

Is that all that’s going on? Perhaps there is a component of testing Esau, that he might receive his father’s blessing, the bestowing of his inheritance? Is Isaac testing Esau’s devotion and love? If so, I imagine these could have evoked feelings of guilt in Esau over his actions recorded in Gen 25:29-34, when he gave away his birthright for a meal. Perhaps Isaac knew about that incident and had reservations about Esau’s worthiness to be his heir? Esau was entitled to his inheritance, but I can’t help but feel he may of had to prove he was worthy of his father’s love and blessing.

If my worth comes from what I do, it is only temporary. If it comes from success, or wealth it is vulnerable and hollow. My worth comes from being a child of God, known by him. It is founded in a relationship with the God who made and sustains everything. I was not worthy of his love and redemption, yet he sealed his love for me at an incredible cost – the death of his own son, Jesus. I don’t have to earn his blessing. All I can do is believe and trust in him.

Dear God, I have no doubt of my worth to you, because you sent Jesus to die for me. There is nothing I can add to that salvation, freely given. Thank you so much, always. Amen.

Written by Claire Moore

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Sunday 7 July, 2019

Genesis 26:17-35

17 So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar, where he settled. 18 Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them. 19 Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. 20 But the herders of Gerar quarreled with those of Isaac and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek, because they disputed with him. 21 Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. 22 He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, saying, “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.” 23 From there he went up to Beersheba. 24 That night the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.” 25 Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the Lord. There he pitched his tent, and there his servants dug a well. 26 Meanwhile, Abimelek had come to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his personal adviser and Phicol the commander of his forces. 27 Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?” 28 They answered, “We saw clearly that the Lord was with you; so we said, ‘There ought to be a sworn agreement between us’—between us and you. Let us make a treaty with you 29 that you will do us no harm, just as we did not harm you but always treated you well and sent you away peacefully. And now you are blessed by the Lord.” 30 Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank. 31 Early the next morning the men swore an oath to each other. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they went away peacefully. 32 That day Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well they had dug. They said, “We’ve found water!” 33 He called it Shibah, and to this day the name of the town has been Beersheba. 34 When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35 They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.

God is always about fresh water – or fresh encounters with the Spirit of God.

In this passage Isaac, his family, his servants and his livestock have a nomadic life that revolved around the caring for their sheep and livestock.   In this travelling and setting up their “Homes – tents” they would come across other communities doing the same.  In this passage we see that they had to keep moving until the “altercations over water (wells dug)” finished.

Five wells are shown in this passage and each are named:

First wells were his Father’s Wells reopened by Isaac – reopened after the enemy (Philistines) had filled them in.

Second & third wells discovered by servants Named:  “argument” & “hostility”

Fourth well dug by Isaac – with no dispute – Rehoboth – “open space for us to prosper in this land – by the Lord’s creation”

Fifth well – they moved again to Beersheba – Isaac meets with God, He gives him a promise, a well is dug. Beersheba means “well of the oath”.

They finally settle in Beersheba – this well is called “well of the oath”.  Interestingly in this journey of their lives, the King (Abimelech) comes to see them and observes – “We can see plainly that the Lord is with you”.

A few thoughts from this passage:

  1. You can walk in your parents’ faith or others’ faith – however eventually you must dig your own well of faith.
  2. God will sometimes keep you “moving in your faith” until you learn to own your own faith and understand wholeheartedly the God who loves you.
  3. You must create your own well.   You cannot live off someone else’s well – you have to know what you believe and why you believe it.
  4. It is ok to wrestle your faith and ask questions.   Sometimes it creates arguments and hostility – however in the wrestle you will “dig” your own well.
  5. The well of your own faith – becomes something that others will say “We can see plainly that the Lord is with you”

Lord I pray that you would help me to understand you in a deeper way.  Help me to continue to dig my own well of understanding.  May my life reflect so that others can see that you are with me.

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

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Saturday 6 July, 2019

Genesis 26:6-16

6 So Isaac stayed in Gerar. 7 When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” because he was afraid to say, “She is my wife.” He thought, “The men of this place might kill me on account of Rebekah, because she is beautiful.” 8 When Isaac had been there a long time, Abimelek king of the Philistines looked down from a window and saw Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah. 9 So Abimelek summoned Isaac and said, “She is really your wife! Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?” Isaac answered him, “Because I thought I might lose my life on account of her.” 10 Then Abimelek said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the men might well have slept with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.” 11 So Abimelek gave orders to all the people: “Anyone who harms this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.” 12 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him. 13 The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. 14 He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him. 15 So all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth. 16 Then Abimelek said to Isaac, “Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us.”

What an action packed 10 verses!  We have obedience in that Isaac remained in Gerar and didn’t go to Egypt in a time of famine.  He trusted God for his safety and livelihood but perhaps not his relationships as he lied about Rebekah being his sister instead of his wife.  In time he is found out, Abimelech offended and possibly angered but orders a decree to leave the couple alone or face death. Isaac and Rebekah are left to live in peace and not only become successful but incredibly wealthy under God’s hand of blessing. Isaac may have been fearful of the Philistines to begin with but in the end the Philistines became jealous and fearful of him and moved him on.

It’s hard to get past Isaac harvesting a hundred times more grain than he planted, for the Lord blessed him.  What a return! It goes onto say that he became a very rich man, and his wealth continued to grow.  God clearly didn’t have a problem with blessing his children.  God’s blessing upon Isaac and Rebekah was evident to all.  Sometimes it’s good just to pause and know that God wants to bless his children and to be comfortable in that knowledge.  It’s an understanding that can be contested even by ourselves as believers! It’s good to regularly reflect on God’s willingness to bless his children.

Dear God, thank you that you are a God that abundantly blesses his children in many ways across the generations. Amen

Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods

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Friday 5 July, 2019

Genesis 26:1-5

26 Now there was a famine in the land—besides the previous famine in Abraham’s time—and Isaac went to Abimelek king of the Philistines in Gerar. 2 The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. 3 Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. 4 I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, 5 because Abraham obeyed me and did everything I required of him, keeping my commands, my decrees and my instructions.”

This passage starts quite bleakly – a famine has struck the land and Isaac is looking for relief for him and his family. The benefit of hindsight is that things quickly seem to work out alright; but we can only imagine the fear, the questioning and the doubt that could have arisen due to the famine.

But God’s response is direct and powerful. He says for Isaac to stay and live in Gerar. God says He will bless Isaac and his descendants. He says that He will confirm the oath He made to Isaac’s father Abraham, because Abraham was obedient and did everything God required of him.

I’m struck by the truth that blessing follows obedience. We don’t obey in order to get something good out of the situation – we obey because we know and love God. But we can be confident that just like Abraham and Isaac, blessing follows our obedience.

Lord, please speak clearly to us this day. Help us to hear You and to obey. Thank You that blessing pours out of who You are. We ask that we may humbly live in Your blessing as we continue to obey and follow You.

Written by Ps. Matt Samperi

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Thursday 4 July, 2019

Genesis 25:29-34

29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.) 31 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.” 32 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?” 33 But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.

My first response to this passage has always been ‘Seriously??’ That must have been great stew! Clearly the lesson here is never make big decisions on an empty tummy! But on reflection I am challenged to consider the consequences of my own choices, especially when I am distracted or impulsive. Because it seems here that the direction of Esau’s life was changed by the seemingly small choice (I need something to eat NOW) as much as I might have been by a big choice (eg- what career should I follow/ who should I marry etc).

So I am challenged to make sure I am focused on what’s important. Am I too busy thinking about my own comfort to consider the impact my choices might have? (Thinking fair trade/environmental impact) I am reminded not to trade off long-term consequences for short-term gain. God did not step in like a parent and say to Jacob – ‘give that back you tricked him’, or say to Esau ‘it’s ok don’t do it again’. Both players here had to deal with the consequences of this incident for the rest of their lives. I am challenged to check my attitude, think about what I say and do, and make the best decisions I can.

Father God I thank you for my ability to make my own choices. Help me Father to keep my eyes on you and make good decisions. Help me to not become distracted by my own comfort and to bring Glory to you. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen

Written by Christine Knight

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Wednesday 3 July, 2019

Genesis 25:19-28

19 This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Isaac. Abraham became the father of Isaac, 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram and sister of Laban the Aramean. 21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. 23 The Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.” 24 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 25 The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. 26 After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them. 27 The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. 28 Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

In this passage (verses 20-21) we learn that Isaac married Rebekah when he was forty years old. It says that Isaac prayed to the Lord on his wife’s behalf as she was childless, and God answered his prayer and she became pregnant. It sounds as if the events happen in quick succession – they get married, they discover she is barren, Isaac prays, God answers, Rebekah becomes pregnant and then has two sons… but we read in verse 26 that Rebekah give birth when Isaac was 60 years old, meaning these events happened over a 20 year period.

Rebekah was childless for almost 20 years, and I imagine that Isaac was praying for most of this time. It is interesting how the verse simply says Isaac prayed and God answered. There is no sense of the time lapse; the waiting, the wondering, the yearning and the disgrace. The fact remains the same though, that Isaac prayed and God answered, though it may have been an answer that did not come for 20 years.

I wonder, did being ‘Isaac’ – the miracle child born to an elderly couple – help him to trust God through this period of time? No doubt his parents had told him many times of the story of his birth, so had it filled him with faith? If God had done it for his parents, surely God could and would do it again? How precious that Isaac and Rebekah had their own story of waiting and seeing God make a way where there was no way.

God, please help me to draw courage from Abraham and Isaac’s story – to ask and keep on asking, and to trust and keep on trusting. Thank you that you are still in the business of answering prayers in miraculous ways. Amen!

Written by Ps. Bethany Waugh

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Tuesday 2 July, 2019

Genesis 25:12-18

12 This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Ishmael, whom Sarah’s slave, Hagar the Egyptian, bore to Abraham. 13 These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, listed in the order of their birth: Nebaioth the firstborn of Ishmael, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, 14 Mishma, Dumah, Massa, 15 Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. 16 These were the sons of Ishmael, and these are the names of the twelve tribal rulers according to their settlements and camps. 17 Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people. 18 His descendants settled in the area from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt, as you go toward Ashur. And they lived in hostility toward all the tribes related to them.

In Genesis 15 we read that God had given a promise to Abraham in his old age that he would have a son. The fulfilment of this promise was obviously not coming quickly enough for Abraham’s wife Sarah, so she decides to take matters into her own hands.

In Genesis 16 we read that Sarah tells Abraham “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” And the result is a son named Ishmael.

Ishmael is not the son that God has promised Abraham, but eventually the promised son Isaac is born, and the blessing of God rests on Isaac and his offspring.

As I read this passage here today, I noticed that Ishmael had 12 sons (a favourite biblical number) -12 tribal rulers. But as for these 12 sons- though their names are carefully listed here, apart from this listing, their names are now long forgotten to us.

This reminds me that when I try to do things my own way, not God’s way, the results are temporal without lasting value.

1 Cor. 3:12 -14 “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw,

their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.

If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.”

May I walk in step with God’s plans and set my mind on the things above, not merely my temporal needs and plans.

Written by Shelley Witt

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