Friday, December 20, 2013

Relationship - as it is fit in the Lord

Recently, I was reading through Colossians and I came upon a verse that stuck out like a 'healed
 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.  Colossians 3:18
The word that stopped me alive in my tracks was the word 'fit' so I decided to look it up.  Guess what? It means fit (like suitable)! Nothing earth shattering!  As I looked at the immediate context, I could see that 'in the Lord' goes along with it. Duh! Again that is easy to see.

What is 'fit in the Lord? The Word of God contains all wisdom that pertains to life, so whatever is fitting about the husband and wife relationship has got to be in there. The larger, whole context for the word needs to be taken into account, not an isolated verse here and there. Any person can make the word say what he wants it to say by taking things out of the setting of the whole Bible.

So how about the very first husband/wife relationship? In the beginning God set everything up and then turned around and said that it was all very good.

Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Eve was given a brain and had thinking capabilities, along with (uh-oh) free-will choice. If God made her that way in the beginning, he must of had a reason!

Galatians 3:28 is breathtaking:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28
There are  many examples of outstanding women in the Bible like Debra, Sarah, Hannah, Ruth, Esther, Mary, Pricilla, Phebe, Junia, Lydia, Mary Magdalene and numerous other women.

Mary is a great example of submitting as it is 'fit' in the Lord. When the angel told Mary about the child she was to bear did she run to Joseph and say: "Honey I need to run something by you."?  Why didn't God go first to Joseph and tell him what he needed and then tell Joseph to discuss this with Mary? God worked with each of them individually. She submitted to Joseph as it was 'fit' in the Lord. Joseph also  responded as it was 'fit' in the Lord.   Joseph helped Mary do what God had called her to do.

Every marriage has a unique footprint, that is what becoming one flesh is all about. It involves commitment, work and believing in the 'Christ in' each other. Each individual person has a unique way to minister to others and each marriage is a melding of two separate callings into a mutual arrangement. The spirit of God works through the wife and works through the husband:
Ecclesiastes 4:9-13 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.11 Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? 12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
 To submit one to another is to have a relationship arrangement. Women are different from men and have different capabilities. Adam and Eve were designed to complement and help one another.   Marriage is a decision to have a permanent relationship. Every marriage is different, because two different individuals are brought together to figure out how to operate as a unit. It is fascinating!

The act of submission defined in the Bible can effect any relationship, not just a married couple.
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear (reverence) of God. Epehsians 5:21 
Individuals are different and have different attributes, characteristics, skills, culture, upbringing and chemistry. Submission doesn't mean 'you are the boss of me'. Leadership is such a big word today, but biblically is is synonymous with servanthood. God's word is the standard and guidepost.  'Doormat' theology is not the point, it is about  the art and love of serving with recognition of the individuality of a person's heart. Bottom line, 'submission' is dealing with each other where the focus is not 'all about me'. It is true in marriage; it is true in any relationship. Jesus Christ is the best example and the reason for every season, not just the holidays.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

New Life In Christ Even at The Mall

Jesus Christ is the reason for every season. He is not the a figurehead of just the feasts of celebration like Christmas and Easter; he is the life changer of everyday living. God has provided a means of bridging man's distance from Himself through the accomplishment of His son. We work in conjunction with the Father and His son through the unique gift of holy spirit. It is a relationship (I John 1:3), not  a contract.

I have heard people teach about Jesus Christ as the 'absent Christ' and that phrase is perplexing to me. How can he be absent? Spiritually he is not really absent because of how God has designed the universe. Jesus Christ is the head of the church. Nothing takes his place because of his divine appointment. The Word does not take his place.  Instead the Word is fulfilled in a risen Christ. The Word explains who Christ is. The book of Colossians is a great explanation of the 'how' our life is enriched by God's son as the head. If we let the word dwell richly within us (Colossians 3:16) and allow it to bring rest to our hearts, we can no long confess an 'absent Christ' or complicate God's provision by  theologizing about 'absent' Christs. It is all really quite simple. Man has complicated it.

God really loved the world in sending His son (John 3:16). It is in His son we find real life, a peace and and abundance beyond anything we could ever dream up. The greatest joy is in the fellowship (relationship) with an awesome Father, His son and all those who belong to Him. God surrounds us with powerful relationships and He knows what we need when it comes to fellowship! It is absolutely amazing.

Last weekend when I was driving the perimeter of perhaps one of the largest malls in the world, I got a phone call from my sis. Traffic was unimaginable and the sky was pelting the pavement with big chunks of sloppy snow! I relished the thought of pulling into a parking spot and calling her back. She said she'd call back. I went into a store got what I went for and just as I was about to pull away, she called (perfect timing) and there I sat with all the hustle and bustle going on around me, talking about grace, God and more grace!

The world may swirl around about us, pelting us with this or that, but we are never alone or very far from those who are a part of our church in the true sense of the Word. Jesus Christ is building the church (not the brick and mortar, stained-glass type)
I Peter 2:6-6 [Come] and, like living stones, be yourselves built [into] a spiritual house, for a holy (dedicated, consecrated) priesthood, to offer up [those] spiritual sacrifices [that are] acceptable and pleasing to God through Jesus Christ. For thus it stands in Scripture: Behold, I am laying in Zion a chosen (honored), precious chief Cornerstone, and he who believes in Him [who adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] shall never be disappointed or put to shame. Amplified Bible

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Romans 10:9-10 Revisited

We all know what the resurrection is all about. God raised Jesus from the dead over 2000 years ago! That means he is still alive.  We know from the Bible he walked around in his resurrected body for a while and it had some amazing capabilities.

Over fourteen times in the New Testament, Jesus is described now as sitting on the right hand of God. God doesn't have a physical hand, but this is a figure of speech much like what was said about Joseph and Pharoah. We use this figure today when we talk about a leader's assistant as a right-hand man. Jesus Christ ascended to the right hand of God meaning he carries the authority of God to be Lord over the body of Christ.

How many people today really think of Jesus as being alive?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Of Magi and Pilgrims

The Thanksgiving holiday has mutated!  What used to be a celebration of the pilgrimage of some brave men and women who crossed the turbulent Atlantic to find an escape from religious control has become a trek demanding shopping endurance. The pilgrims came to America to find a place where they could freely love the God of the Bible and His son Jesus Christ. The meaning of the holiday has definitely changed for some.

The stores are continuously open right now, to make Black Friday become the harbinger of good economic times ahead. Early reports have indicated the economy is sluggish and Black Friday is in the red. Others say it was great! That's the way the world bounces!

Two thousand years ago, a caravan of some smart wise men set off from Persia (known as Iran today) because they wanted to worship the arrival of a king. They too were on a pilgrimage at this same time of the year. On the way they did not stop at a mall, swipe a piece of plastic and wait in long line to get their gifts wrapped. They were men who knew that some force put this universe together and that the Creator was about to do something big. They were astronomers who believed that even the stars are arranged to magnify the love of a Creator.
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. Psalm 19:1-5
Some of my ancestors were aboard the Mayflower and I celebrate them this time of the year. The persecution they faced was for a lot more serious than things  like being dropped from FaceBook or a cyber attack on Twitter. Their personal Exodus was because they loved God because He first loved them. Oh! that we could all get it to love others with the love of God that we have been abundantly given. There would be no judgements, criticism, and gossip. God's love comes with no monthly payment and interest, long lines and frantic rushing around. Instead it always brings a deep abiding peace.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful for the Glory of God

The first use of the expression, 'the glory of the Lord' is used in Exodus 16:7. The reference to this 'glory' appears 11 times throughout the book. Actually the word 'glory' is a common word used throughout the Bible to refer to honor, weight, and majesty. In our culture, it is a fairly common word, but it is used in many different contexts. If we lose sight of the biblical significance of the word, we are the richness of its meaning is lost.

Previously in Genesis, the word 'glory' is used in reference to men. The discussion of the glory of God comes into prominence in Exodus. II Corinthians 3 describes this:

Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.  
And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. 
But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather gloriousFor if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. 11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious 
12 Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: 13 And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: 14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. 15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. 
17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
In the Old Testament, only certain men or women had the spirit of God upon them.  Pharaoh recognized the spirit of God in Joseph. Moses certainly manifested the spirit of God upon him and he actually glowed at times. In the New Testament, God gives holy spirit to each and every person who stands on the rock, Christ Jesus.  It is on the inside, in the heart. God is spirit (John 4:24) and he has given us the some of the substance that He is. Just as Jesus Christ reflected the glory of God, we can reflect God's nature as we allow it to work in us.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Moses and Choice

In Exodus chapters 7-14 the battle that was required to get the Israelites out of bondage and back to the original promise of God to Abraham is an interesting study. God wanted to give them 'a land of milk and honey'. It became a spiritual struggle and only God could have brought them through it all.

The legacy of Joseph in the Egyptians' eyes was gone. Egypt was a strong nation and the people of God had become their slaves. It was a grueling life and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob's descendants were pretty well stuck under an oppressive rule. In order to extricate them, much was required and it started with their cry to God for help.

 God's discussion with Moses is rich with lessons on how to spiritually defeat an evil-intentioned enemy. God sent Moses to Pharaoh and asked for his people to be allowed to leave. Pharaoh said no. God had already warned Moses of this outcome in Exodus 4:21
21 And the Lord said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.
God is not the author of evil. In Genesis 3, however evil was allowed to have its way and from that point on any good would be accosted by something evil in order to win the spiritual battle. This spiritual battle in Exodus is clearly an example of the war between good and evil. Pharaoh, by his own freewill choice, decided which side he was on. He became obstinate, severe and unrelenting in his dealings with God's people. Even when he seemed to give in, he later reversed his decision.

There are three different words for the word "harden " (harden) in chapter 7. Hardening of the heart is not a simple matter. Why does someone 'harden' his heart? God doesn't directly determine someones heart to become hardened, just as God doesn't directly make someone believe Him. It is the choice of the individual. The individual decides whom he will believe and honor. God got right up front and visible to Pharaoh, to his servants, to his magicians and to the Egyptians through the signs and wonders He still rejected God's request. So in a sense spiritually, God's great love for his people influenced Pharaoh to decided to turn away and allowed evil to influence his actions. He chose to fight God.
I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things. Isaiah 45:7
When God created light and he separated it from darkness.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. Genesis 1:4
Darkness and evil exist because God allows it. If He didn't there would be no choice. Going back in time to Genesis 3, the question has to be asked,"Who created the serpent?" and then ask, "Why did the serpent rebel against its creator?" The answer lies in God's justice and His provision of free-will choice. Since God is the author of light, we can choose to walk in light, but darkness is still present.

When Moses sets off to do what God has showed him, he is faced with a challenge of his child's circumcision. In verse 24, it makes it sound like God tried to kill him. If you take that verse magnify to solely to the hilt, it appears to be attributing evil to God. Did God kill Cain in the beginning? No! God put a mark on him so he wouldn't be killed. Then why would God kill Moses, the meekest man on the face of the earth? (Numbers 12:3)

When the versions of the bible say 'the Lord did this' and the 'Lord did that' we have to understand that God is the creator of the universe. He created everything including free-will choice therefore there is an opening for darkness or evil. Anyone who chooses to love God just has to step into the light to get out of the darkness.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Wonderful Perks of God!

There was a wonderful girl who used to meet with a bunch of us in college. Her name was Anne. We would get together to talk about the Bible and God.  One day she looked me straight in the eye and just kept saying over and over that God loves us. The way she said it penetrated every sinew of my heart.
If we are ever going to see the reality of how God works in our lives or the power that he imparts to us, it is His love that opens the door.
I John 4:19 We love Him, because He first loved us. (The NIV says: We love because He first loved us. Many older manuscripts omit the 'Him'. Either way it conveys truth.)
It is easy to see the ability of God, we only have to look around at this creation of His. It doesn't take much faith. It takes more to see that God is willing to do for each of us individually. It takes believing to see how gracious He is toward us. There is not one person who doesn't have access to God's love.

 Jesus Christ exemplified willingness. In Matthew 8:1-10, the willingness of God through the ministry of Jesus Christ is clear. In verse 2, the record shows a leper coming to Jesus and saying:
Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 
Jesus answered him:
I will. Be thou clean. (verse 3) 
(Nothing complicated here!)
If that wasn't enough, Matthew 8 goes on to record the request of the centurion interceding for his servant.  Jesus says:
I will come and heal him. (verse 7)
The centurion responded with:
Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. (verse 8)
Jesus responded with:
Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. (verse 10)
Just a word did it! That's the love of God!  In John 16:7, Jesus Christ said:
It is expedient for you that I go away...
Jesus Christ is alive and he has the authority of God to be the head of the body of Christ today. Because of his death, resurrection, and ascension, the spirit was poured out upon man. Spirit transcends distance. I'm thankful for Anne, I've lost track of her but I continue to thank God for her and pray for her and that goes the distance.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Self-preservation in a Selfish World

Pick up any newspaper or listen to any news media, it will be ultimately and simply clear that selfishness that ultimately got its root in Genesis 3 is pervading ever aspect of culture today. The sneaky snake of old has wrapped itself around the globe and is squeezing tight, still challenging and questioning God's words and offering his bait, 'ye shall be as God'. People have the choice of loving God or become totally about themselves. Harsh, but true. But is it really harsh?

Jesus Christ provided the greatest example of love. He spoke the truth to all who would hear. The truth helps people! Any truth that comes from God has its ultimate blessings. 
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (Ephesians 1:3 Read the rest of Ephesians to see the wonderful perks of God! :) )
Self-preservation is an interesting concept. We should take care of ourselves, no doubt about it! The ultimate satisfaction, however comes from loving others in the right way. Have you had moments of feeling unloved, unappreciated and miserable? The best way to get out of that funk is not rolling around in it demanding your rights. Watch what happens when you go to God's word and stir up a little trust and believing and bless someone else. What happens to the misery?! I have found through experience that when I'm trying to decide what to do for someone or about something, I just immerse myself in some in-depth study in God's word and forget everything else, and then I usually emerge with the heart of knowing what to do!

The serpent made Eve consciously aware of what she seemed to lack. In doing so, it was enticing her to worship him and his logic. Whoa Nellie! What has the sneaky snake done for you lately? By getting people to focus on themselves and not God, misery is absolutely everywhere except where people see and choose God's logic and spread His love around!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Rich, Vital, Prayer

The very first thing I ever learned about prayer as a child was that you memorized prayers. I was never taught "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake...l" (scary way to settle your day as your head hits the pillow), but I did learn many memorized prayers suitable for bedtime, dinnertime and many other occasions. I still can recite them but I don't because I like to think through what I'm talking to God about.
The Greek word translated 'prayer' is 'proseuche'. It is a merger between two words, 'pros' and 'euche'. 'Pros' generally indicates closeness of one thing to another. 'Euche' is a request, petition or prayer.  In another older usage, the concept of vow was included in the definition. It was thought that when a person prayed, he made a vow to give something to God in return for an answer (one cannot bribe God especially with works).

Whatever way you look at it, prayer is an exchange between two parties. It is a closeness. It is a relationship with God. What do we exchange with God? We can never out give God (or get even close for that matter), but in in Hebrews 11:6 Paul writes:
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Substitute the word 'trust' for 'faith' and it gives a clearer picture of what warms the cockles of God's heart.  As any parent knows, when a child approaches with an open heart of trust it is especially gratifying. The whole chapter of Hebrews 11 is about people who have trusted God. God LOVES that trust and he pours it on because He is all about relationship with His kids.

Prayer is a big deal. There are numerous example throughout the Bible. I am especially enjoying Moses' conversations with God in Exodus! Prayer is not vain, empty, repetition. Thinking is definitely involved! When my head hits the pillow at night and the thoughts from the day quiet down, I relish the conversation with the Father. There are mornings when I awake with one of those 'nudges from Him. All day He is there in crisis and celebration. Prayer is a dynamic rich relationship with someone we can trust. It is something to look forward to!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Clearing the Air

Fall is a great season. The air is crisp and at times the sky look so blue against the vivid colors of the trees. I love the smells and the clearness of the air at this time of the year.

Recently I read an article on the internet by Wayne Jacobsen on Matthew 7:13-14. One statement he makes really provided clarity and painted a portrait of vivid color for me of God's love for man.

"Jesus warned us that the road into his life is a narrow road. Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it (Matt. 7:13-14). 
I know this has been preached to fill people with fear, but what if Jesus didn't say this to push people harder on the religious treadmill? In fact, I don't think his words are about eternal destiny at all, but rather an encouragement to a different way of living in this age. Salvation for Jesus was not giving out a get-out-of-hell-free card, but opening a door for us into a relationship with his Father." (Wayne Jacobsen
Often our view of God, (or for anything else for that matter) is filtered through a broad spectrum of life experiences, upbringing and exposure to common ideas about religion from men. We have to remember that fear is not the motive of God's word. Love is! As I  'mosey' my way through the pages of Exodus, it is clear again, just as with Genesis, that God is love and full of grace. God wanted His people to find their way to a life without bondage and He provided a way. For us today, instead of Moses,  Jesus Christ is the way to God.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Matthew 7 is all about love.  The worldly pollution is ever with us but God can prevail in our lives as we trust Him. The beautiful colors of fall and the beautiful sky are great reminders of how blessed we are by God's detailed love to us.                                                                                                                                 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Genealogy in Exodus 6

In the Bible, there are twenty or so lists of the twelve tribes of Israel. Many of the lists have a slightly different order of the tribal list due to other categories like numeration, mothers, geography, and blessings etc. When you start reading in Exodus and get to Exodus 6:14ff you might think, "Ok, here we go, another list."  This list seems to be cut short.  Instead of the twelve tribes, it only lists Reuben and his sons, Simeon and his sons, and Levi and his sons,  grandsons and some great-grandsons and some great-great grandsons and one great-great-great grandson.  That's it!

Genealogy's have some magnificent little gems tucked inside them. There is one such diamond in the order of the names of Moses and Aaron. First of all, this list is the Genealogy of Aaron and Moses, so it zeroes in on the tribe of Levi. These two play predominant roles in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. In verse 20, Aaron is listed first because he is three years older than Moses.
Exodus 6:20 And Amram took him Jochebed his father's sister to wife; and she bare him Aaron and Moses: and the years of the life of Amram were an hundred and thirty and seven years.
Later on at the end of the chapter (or maybe where the end of the chapter should be - remember chapter divisions were not put in by God) in verse 26, Aaron is still listed first.
Exodus 6:26 These are that Aaron and Moses, to whom the Lord said, Bring out the children of Israel from the land of Egypt according to their armies.
In verse 27 however the order is reversed. Moses is listed first, then Aaron. Did a scribe get sloppy? No God's word is very detailed and He has a reason why He has a certain order in lists of people.
Exodus 6:27 These are they which spake to Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring out the children of Israel from Egypt: these are that Moses and Aaron.
In this verse Moses is listed first. God had set this order up in Exodus 4 when Moses suggested to God that someone else run the show:
Exodus 4:14 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. 15 And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do. 16 And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God.
God knew the long suits and capabilities of Moses. Moses was meek to God and would not be swayed by the people as Aaron was in the case of the golden calf in Exodus 32. A leader needs to stand for what he believes in and not waver. Moses may have asked a lot of questions, but he was faithful to God's direction. God fronted Moses for this project.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Good is Good and Evil is Evil

Think about how many times Moses went to Pharaoh and showed him the power of God and how many times Pharaoh rejected him! Imagine if that happened today. Wait a minute! It happens all the time! Often people just refuse to accept what God does.

On the other side of the coin people talk about what God is doing when He isn't even involved at all. In Exodus 4, Aaron cast down his rod in front of Pharaoh and it became a serpent. Not to be outdone or out-miracled, Pharaoh's magicians threw down rods and magically turned them into serpents. Their magic was a false show. Aaron's serpent  gobbled up the other serpents!  The Bible talks about disguised angels of light and lying signs, miracles and wonders. We can be deceived by such things. How can we tell?  Jesus Christ told us in the New Testament that people will be known by their fruit.
Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
When a tree grows and produces fruit eventually, the fruit cannot be hid. In Mark 11:14 Jesus spoke about a fig tree (also called the people's tree) that didn't even produce buds, saying: "No man eat fruit of thee hereafter forever." Despite the leaves, branches and roots, there would be no fruit. This would have been hard for him to see from 'afar off' unless he had gotten up close to look, which he did (Mark 11:13). Jesus was referring to those who had rejected him as a God's son. 

Fruit represent the good things of God. Good is good and evil is evil. It is God's Word that determines which category something belongs to, not man nor his actions however disguised they may be.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Codependency and Fellowship

Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him. 
Romans 12:3b The Message 

A big term thrown around in psycho culture today is the word  'codependency'. It actually describes a relationship between people where both derive need satisfaction and live off of each other. There is a big difference between fellowship and codependency. Fellowship is an healthy relationship that operates within the Biblical set-up of the family of God. We all are different and we all have different contributions to the body of Christ and in that sense we relate to each other. In codependency excessive need is the primary focus and corresponding excessive sacrifice on the part of another. God is supplanted in the relationship and idolatry sneaks in.   'Idolatry' may seem like a strong word but it applies because codependency draws us away from the sufficiency that comes from God and substitutes something else in His place thus undermining believing.

Idolatry can manifest itself in many ways. It can come in the form of government, celebrity and entertainments, ego and personal issues, philosophy, religion, causes, skin color, ethnicity and all sorts man-made pedestals  elevating one human or group above another. Humans need relationships, but humans don't need relationships that feed on something that separates them from God.
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;  2 Corinthians 10:5
Religious co-dependency is very sneaky. Religion should never separate us from access to God or to each other. (I Corinthians chapter one). Our relationship to God is enhanced as we look to the example of Jesus Christ, claim him as Lord and believe God raised him from the dead. When we live like we believe this we have supernatural confidence and are not co-dependent on the things or substitutes in this world.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

So Where Did Adam and Eve Go to Church?

The huge puzzles with 350+ pieces are quite a challenge. My grandchildren are great at solving 24
piece puzzles by just spreading the pieces out on the floor and scanning for similar colors and shapes! They don't have to look at the box to see the picture of the finished puzzle! The large puzzles are different, one has to see the big picture to see where the pieces go.

The Word of God is similar to the larger puzzles. There is a panoramic big picture of God that is so necessary to keep in mind when focusing in on one small piece. Using the old proverbial saying that 'one can't see the forest for the trees', the trees represent various pet doctrines that people grab onto at the expense of the bigness of God. I have seen this over and over even with very educated theologians. For example, just pick a topic of something like the 'church' and see what differences of opinions exist on what the 'church' should be. So where did Adam and Eve go to church? If they didn't 'go to church' who taught them?

I loved my trek through Genesis.  I took a whole year and I barely scratched the surface! The things I did learn however really showed me a greater understanding of Romans and God's graceful heart. It showed me the whys of Corinthians and and the absolute necessity of the tough love of Galatians. God works in people's hearts if we let Him. We don't 'perform' for God, we love and trust Him. That is what He has wanted from the beginning. In Exodus, Moses is a huge player. God gave him  a job to do. He was to help Israel obtain the promises of God and get out from under the crushing bondage they were in. Moses showed them God's power because they had forgotten what he had promised their fathers.
11 And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?  12 And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain. 
13 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? 14 And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you. 15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, the Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.  
16 Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt:17 And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey. Exodus 3:11-17
What happened on the Day of Pentecost when the gift of holy spirit became available to anyone who believed, had the same heart behind it. Moses could talk to God because he had holy spirit upon him. On the day of pentecost the spirit was given to reside IN any heart that believes, not just upon certain individuals.
39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. Act 2:39
Moses was a servant in the household of God, we have the grace to be sons (Hebrews 3:1-6). The burning bush is no longer outside of us but within our hearts. As sons we serve by bragging about our Father and that's when the 'church' becomes un-mistakenly visible.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Thinking Soberly

The more I read about Moses, the more I see about his life and appreciate him as a leader of Israel. His turning away from his early background and relocating to the Sinai Desert shows the commitment he had. His contentment to stay with Jethro and become a sheep herder shows his humility and rejection of the things of the systems of the world.
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 1 John 2:15-16 
It is easy to comprehend what 'lust of the flesh', and 'lust of the eyes', but 'pride of life' which is used once in the Word of God was something to think about.  The word 'pride' in Greek is 'alazoneia' which is the word for arrogant boasting. This is what Eve succumbed to when the Devil promised "ye shall be as gods" when he tempted her to disobey God and eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The desire for world wisdom, power and elevation overcame her heart. Ambition and dominance are strong motivating factors in human nature. We can find it everywhere. Even in the 1st century church, John warned about a man in III John who was a leader and loved preeminence in the church (Diostrephes).
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. Romans 12:3
The world's definition of a leader is to be the top positional ruler; however, in true Biblical standards, a leader is a servant of others.  Moses certainly exhibited servant qualities in the sense that he was looking out for others by helping them obtain the promises of God. He is a great example for us today.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Moses's Relationship With God

In Exodus Chapter 3, God appeared to Moses through a burning bush. Imagine turning aside to see
why a plant on fire is not burning up and God starts talking to you. This might be a tad bit startling! Then imagine that God commissions you for a huge project. You might be asking yourself "Is this for real?", "Is this too big for me?", "How the heck can I do this?" These were all questions on Moses's mind.  Imagine saying to God:
22 Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? 23 Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all. Exodus 5:23-23 (NIV)
Moses was not some superhero in a red cape. He wasn't sure God's plan was working. He was a man but when he had doubts he didn't call up a therapist, counselor, priest, psychiatrist, best buddy or even talk to himself. He didn't crank out tweets and Facebook rants on the injustice of Pharaoh. He didn't depend on the cable news media to keep in up on the Goshen news from Sinai. He talked to God. That is where he knew he got the best answers and the best solutions. That is meekness.

If God gives someone an assignment, he will certainly provide the grace to carry it out. God spent a lot of time working with Moses.  God had heard the cry of the Israelites who were complaining about the oppression bearing down on their lives. He was aware of what was going on and he enlisted Moses to help get them out of Goshen and back to the promised land. He warned Moses that Pharaoh was not going to cooperate with them but he told Moses he would provide him with miraculous displays of power.

In Genesis 6:1-8 God explained his relationship with the Israelites to Moses:
Then the LORD (Yahweh) said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land. 2 And God (Elohim) spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD (Yahweh): 3 And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty (El Shaddai), but by my name JEHOVAH (Yahweh) was I not known to them (could be a self-evident rhetorical question mark here). 4 And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers. 5 And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant. 6 Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD(Yahweh), and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: 7 And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God (Elohim): and ye shall know that I am the LORD (Yahweh) your God (Elohim), which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD (Yahweh).*
God is 'Yahweh' to us today. He is relational. Yes, He is an almighty God, a creator God, but His ultimate desire is a Father to His people. He has done so much for us in the new covenant. He has and will continue to bring us up and out from under any burden and free us from any bondage. God has and will actively retrieve us with his long arm. He has and will continue to think of us as His people and He is and will continue to be our God.  As to the land and heritage we have now, He says it best:
Ephesians 1:18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance (heritage) in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places (the promised land of spiritual blessings).
Ephesians 2:5-7 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

  *Yahweh is God's personal name. He has a relationship with His people. Elohim is His creation name as he created all that we see. El Shaddai represents His strength, the strongest in the universe.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Verily, Verily

In the gospel of John the words: "verily,verily" are found 25 times (LINK). The definition of the word
"verily" is 'truly' or 'surely'. Since it is used twice, it has a double emphasis. The Greeks used the Hebrew word 'amen' for 'verily'. It is the same in Latin and English. It is a unique word.

In the verses that it is used twice, it is like a trumpet sounding to call attention to the truth. God is calling attention to the importance of what is said like in John 14:12:
John 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
This breath-taking verse is talking about anyone who believes in Jesus Christ. He said "the works that I do shall he do also".  Jesus Christ did some pretty amazing things when he walked the earth.  Now he is sitting at the right hand of God. God doesn't have a hand (God is spirit) so this is a figure of speech indicating Christ's position of responsibility. Those whom he is Lord over will do the same works as that he did and even greater works. Because of Christ's position now, his work has expanded beyond one person and has the potential to continue to expand as people rise up and believe this verse. Verily, verily, this is a important verse!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Did God Harden Pharaoh's Heart?

The same sun that melts wax, hardens clay
 (Origen On First Principles 3.1.11)

Have you ever dealt with a difficult person and have had to finally come to the realization that no matter
what you did or said to them, they would always be difficult? Some hearts are like big boulders, impossible to move. They would sooner roll over you than listen to something contrary to their way of thinking.

This morning I got up and read some posts from some of my blogging friends. I am so thankful to have met some wonderful people who ask God questions when they read the Word. It seems that Moses was always asking God questions. This could not be said about Pharaoh, even after he saw miracle after miracle in his interactions with Moses when Israel needed to leave Egypt. 

In front of Pharaoh, Moses threw down his rod and it became a serpent. What was Pharaoh's response? He called the magicians and they threw down their rods and they became serpents. Then Moses' rod gobbled up their rods! Moses then turned their precious Nile into blood and the magicians did their enchantments in response. Several days later Moses multiplied frogs and so did the magicians. The next day Moses removed the frogs:
Exodus 8:9 And Moses said unto Pharaoh, Glory over me: when shall I intreat for thee, and for thy servants, and for thy people, to destroy the frogs from thee and thy houses, that they may remain in the river only?10 And he said, To morrow. And he said, Be it according to thy word: that thou mayest know that there is none like unto the Lord our God.
Pharaoh got quite an education, was he thankful for it? Several times in Exodus, the text reads that it was God who hardened Pharaoh's heart against letting the children of Israel go back to the country that God had promised them. In other places, it reads that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. It seems to me that God was giving Pharaoh and all who looked on an opportunity to see God, but Pharaoh was having none of it. Instead he decided for himself how he reacted. That is his problem, not God's.

In the next episode, when lice poured in all over the land of Israel, even the magicians threw up their hands:
Exodus 8:19 Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said.
The magicians recognized that God was involved. God is love. God doesn't cause men to reject Him. People reject Him. Pharaoh was responsible for his own heart. There are three Hebrew words used for 'to harden' in this record. Putting them together it can be seen that he allowed his heart to tighten up and become severe and heavy (Link).

By our own choice, the sinews of our heart can remain tender to God because we are strengthened by the work of Jesus Christ and the presence of the holy spirit and the knowledge of His Word that has been provided.  With thankfulness, we can ask God questions and expect answers knowing that with all that we have today he loves us and certainly does not cause hardening of the heart. In today's world, this is a great aerobic-like lesson of grace when we allow the fresh air of God to bless our lives.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

God's Word is So Simple, It is Not Rocket Science-It Doesn't have to Be!

God's Word is God! John 1:1 states this beautifully and simply!:
 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
If you go type in this verse in an internet search, this verse becomes one of the most complicated verses in the Bible.  It is incredibly discouraging to read man's multiple interpretations of this verse. Man is the culprit when it comes to complicating God's Word. Man has invented the 'contradictions' that some talk about. It causes so much division among Christians.

God is God- period! He created the heavens and the earth! Have you ever looked at things that God has made like the moon, the sun, trees, fish, humans and blue sky? It is amazing to consider the creation and how magnificent it is. Why would his Word be any different?

As I slowly worked through Genesis and now moving on into Exodus, it is even more apparent to me how faithful and loving God is. He hasn't changed. I've spent so much time in the New Testament for most of my life.  The context of the Word of God extends from Genesis to Revelation, so even though we live after the ascension of Jesus Christ and before his return, the Old Testament has meaning for us.

Context is very important. So often people take one verse and spin a whole theological doctrine out of it. I love context. The Word has context. Once we have the context, a  single verse will mean so much more.  Last night before I went to sleep, I read a verse in Colossians about how God has delivered us from the power of darkness and as I read the context around it, I thought of the children of Israel in Exodus and their rescue. It is not rocket science and I don't have to reinvent the wheel! It is gorgeous!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

He Prayed For You!

Great verse! I stumbled upon this yesterday while reading about how Christ prayed, what he prayed for and what he did not pray for in John 17. Verse 20 just totally caught my breath!
John 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
Jesus Christ was praying for his people and those who believe their words. Since we are reading John's words in the gospel we have to realize that Jesus Christ actually prayed for us! Hey! The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16b)! If there ever was a righteous man, it was Jesus Christ! and He prayed for us!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

God and Moses- Application

After Joseph, things really went downhill for the Israelites. Moses, by a miracle of God, had survived and like Joseph, was involved somewhat in the court of Pharaoh. It was not however, an exact comparison, but it gave Moses reason to think he could help his Israelite brothers and sisters.

In Acts 7, there is a record of his venturing out to check on his brethren.
23 And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. 24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: 25 For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.26 And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? 27 But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? 28 Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday? Acts 7:23-28
The incident that ensued, resulting in trouble with Pharaoh and the failure of the Israelites involved to see anything but intrusion on Moses part, became discouragement to Moses and what he thought his calling was all about. He was alone and on the run. God had not appeared to Moses yet from the burning bush, so he had not received the detailed plans of God as to how he was to help his brothers and sisters.  That would come another 40 years later when the Israelites cried for help. In the meantime, Moses found life and family in Midian that kept him busy and learning.

It is important to understand and realize that people don't 'call' people to do God's work. God does and He is the one who provides the timing, strength, learning and support to carry His plan out!  People who love God and "have it in their heart" to help can enter into the rest and ease of God's peace knowing that God will provide the right timing, place, people and details that guarantee success. It's a matter of  listening to the still small voice ( check out Elijah in I Kings 19:9-18 which is a similar predicament) not the 'naysayers'. It helps to ignore them! Focusing in on our relationship with God is not dependent on what others think and provides very rich moments in life.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Moses- His Background

In Genesis, the lives of many people are recorded, starting from the first man and woman in the beginning and ending with the formation of a nation of God's people. Exodus focuses primarily on one man in a relationship with God, leading his people out from bondage in a land controlled by others, toward a life of freedom and establishment.

Moses life scheme is interesting*.  He was raised in the courts of a pharaoh with his mom as a nanny. He had privilege, wealth and education. His mom would have taught him about God and the people he came from. He lived 40 years in that environment. When he saw an Egyptian abusing one of his own people he got involved and killed the Egyptian. His own people did not consider his intervention heroic and Moses ended up alone and in trouble. He fled Egypt to Midian (Arabia). There he spent another 40 years as a shepherd, in an entirely different environment than his first 40 years. He worked in an rough, rugged country entirely different that what he was used to.

Who were the people of Midian? In Genesis 25:1-6, we can find out where they came from:
Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah. And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah. And Jokshan begat Sheba, and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim. And the sons of Midian; Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abida, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah. And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac. But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country.
God is the great weaver of His word.  The history of the Old Testament people is interwoven and great learning for us.  I don't have to understand everything or speculate why God did some things. If we just keep reading things become clearer. We humanoids love to speculate and make judgements. We can even go so far as to go off the rails on God's Word at times, but thankfully if we develop meekness along the way, our loving God has some nice little gems awaiting for us throughout His Word. God never changes in faithfulness and love for His people.

*Interesting Link from Josephus (historian):Chapter 9:3

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Love of God

In my Bible, in I John, I went through the text and colored a  '' on top of the word 'love' every time it is used. Looking over the pages, it is plain to see that this is a big topic in 1st John! The hearts are everywhere!

There's a wonderful verse in I John 10:
10 Herein is , not that we d God, but that he d us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
The emphasis in this verse is on God's love for us, not on how much we love Him! Truly, if all we had was the realization of  how much God has loved us in providing what he has through the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, we would be incredibly blessed! God LOVES us! That is a big deal! We can really love others too! (I John 4:11) when we are free in the knowledge of how much God loves us.

Love from God is not hurried or make us defensive, and is not a cause for comparisons among ourselves. There is no need to boast about it or elevate ourselves over others. It certainly is unselfish and keeps us calm, peaceful and un-reactive to things we don't need to react to.  It certainly does not invent things about others. Love from God just never never fails because it is not filtered through 'fear' and we are able to freely and boldly love as God loves!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Exiting Genesis- On to Exodus

Studying Genesis has been a wonderful experience. I have learned much and there is a whole lot more to learn. I have been so thrilled to see the grace of God in His foundational book. Yes, Genesis is the 'Old' Testament, but it is still about a God who is faithful and loving in a world that is much less than perfect.

God's people never have to be static. Gaining entrance into different avenues of learning is important in life and knowing when to move on is even more important. Sometimes we find ourselves involved in something that we enjoy, so we stay awhile. Nothing stays the same and if we are too dug in too much it is hard to see beyond the limits.  God's blessings are dynamic and He will help us rearrange and remove limits.  That is part of life. It is our opportunity to grow. The resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ blew open 'the sky's the limit' cliche.

After Joseph and his generation died in Egypt and other rulers rose up that had not known Joseph and the good that he did for Egypt, things got quite a bit tougher for the Israelites. God was still around but the environment became more pressurized and unfriendly. God could still work in that setting as evidenced in Exodus chapter 1:12:
12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites.
Things in and of themselves are not necessarily ruts, but they can become one easily if we don't watch it. One man's run is another man's rut. We all have different needs and paths for growth. When the telltales signs of the winds of change start to blow we need to pay attention and listen to God for direction. Trusting in Him in our prayer life and learning, He will provide 'plain path'.

In chapters 1-2 of Exodus, the record of the birth of Moses is illuminating. The ruler of Egypt had asked the midwives to kill all the male babies that were born in that time period. Moses was born at a dangerous time. Mose's mother hid him for 3 months and then set him afloat on the Nile with sister Miriam looking on. Pharoah's daughter happened to find Moses when she heard him crying. Mose's tears in the reeds that day on the Nile meant big things for the Israelite nation and the Christ line . She decided to take Moses as her own and even hired Mose's mother (unbeknownst to Pharoah's daughter) to be the nanny. Moses was then safe from the slaughter that was going on.  Moses was educated and brought up in the privileges of Pharoah's house. Eventually Moses would be the man who would lead the children of Israel out from under the bondage of the Egyptians and back toward the land of God's promise.

Friday, July 19, 2013


Yesterday, I went looking for raspberries and found many arching boughs of those little red gems. They are so pretty when still attached to the plant. It doesn't take long however that, once they are collected,  
they start to look different, not having the sustenance of the plant. Some of the more invisible creatures (mold, bacteria etc) of this world start to take over and they don't last long.

The word 'fruitful' appears 15 times in Genesis. As I started reading in Exodus, I noticed in the 7th verse of chapter one, the word 'fruitful' again in reference to the children of Israel after the Joseph generation had died off. They abounded even when the pressure was on. The more they were pressured, the more they multiplied and grew (Exodus 1:12). 
And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them. Exodus 1:7
In Genesis 1:28, Adam and Eve are told to be fruitful, to multiply, to replenish (fill), to subdue (must have had some things to subdue), and to have dominion over the earth. They enjoyed fellowship with God and life was great. Then they were seduced by another entity away from trusting in God and in doing so transferred authority to  God's adversary. Things did a 180• turn. They lost their connection to God and became subject to a problematic world with all the pressures of evil. They then needed more help with subduing things and having dominion.

Having lost the connection of spirit with God, God only could communicate to those whom had the spirit upon them (Check out numbers 11! for some interesting examples) The spirit mostly came upon those who were to speak for God to others.  Joseph was a great example in Genesis as he walked with God and became the fruitful bough of Jacob's family. It is interesting to read about Abimelech in Genesis 20 who spoke reproving words to Abraham because of a conversation he had with God. If he hadn't had that conversation would Abraham have eventually obtained the  fulfillment of God's promise of fruitfulness in Genesis 17:6? Take a look at Noah (Genesis 9:1) and Jacob (Genesis 35:11).

The world is still full of pressures and downright evil. There is no change in that. However in this day, the spirit of God is poured forth to everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ and his resurrection from the dead after having the full thrust of evil put on his shoulders. We have the gift of holy spirit. We are connected to the branch and we have all the benefits of his sustenance.
Colossians 1:10-13That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: