Tag Archives: actions

Take a Walk

In 2015, Gavin Adams did an amazing series called “The Good Life?” at Woodstock City Church (http://woodstockcity.org/messages/the-good-life/). He started with Abram and made an interesting point.

 

Abram was living in an idolatrous country with his family. They had succumbed to the culture around them and taken up idols in their home (Joshua 24:2). God saw Abram in the middle of that and had a BIG destiny waiting for him. It would never be God’s best where he was, so God comes to Him and says “go” (Genesis 12:1, Hebrews 11:8). Asks him to leave everything he knows and start walking. No plan. No direction. Just “go”. Just pack up and start walking.

 

But in going, God promised to go with Him.

 

And Gavin made the interesting point – what if God’s purpose started with that walk? What if God’s plan was activated with that first step?

 

Because Abram needed time to leave his old ways completely behind.

Because Abram needed time to change his thinking.

Because Abram needed time to develop his faith for the big miracles God was promising.

Because Abram needed time to learn to be patient and wait for God.

Because Abram needed time to trust God fully.

Because Abram needed time to get to really know who God is.

 

So he and God walked. For many, many years. And in all those years, Abram learned. Abram learned who God was. Abram learned to depend on God. Abram learned to wait for God’s best. Abram learned to believe God would provide. Abram learned to obey, no matter how difficult. Abram learned to dream big – and shared that dream with his son Isaac.

 

And it started with a walk.

Take a Walk.jpg

One step after another. Into the unknown. With God all the way. Holding onto a big promise from the God of the impossible.

 

Did Abram always get it right? No. He was persuaded to make things happen on his own, which is why Ishmael was born (Genesis 16). God forgave him and used those moments to grow Abram in ways maybe not possible before. And as Gavin said, God was with Abram in all these stops.

 

So with every right step, Abram grew with God. And with every wrong step, Abram grew with God. God wasted no opportunity in His time with Abram.

 

And the result?

Genesis 15:6 – Abraham believed God

Genesis 22:12 – now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son

Genesis 26:24 – My servant Abraham

Genesis 48:15 – God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked

Exodus 32:13 – [Moses to God] Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants

2 Chronicles 20:7 – Abraham Your friend forever

Nehemiah 9:8 – You found his heart faithful before You

Psalm 47:9 – The people of the God of Abraham

Isaiah 29:22 – the Lord, who redeemed Abraham

Isaiah 51:2 – For I [God] called him alone, And blessed him and increased him.

Matthew 1:1 – the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham

Romans 4:16 – to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all

 

And why? Because Abram took a walk. And while he walked, God worked. On his thinking. On his heart. On his perspective. On his dreams. On his faith.

 

And the result of his walking? Paul spells it out in Romans 4:

9 – For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness.

17 – Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did

18 – contrary to hope, in hope believed

19 – not being weak in faith

20 – He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God

21 – being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform

 

And God will walk with us the same way He walked with Abram.

 

Do you want to know who God is? Take a walk.

Are you holding onto a big dream? Take a walk.

Do you have a big decision to make? Take a walk.

Are you unsure of the right direction? Take a walk.

 

And as you walk, talk to God. Trust Him with your questions, your doubts, your fears, and your hesitations. And then allow God to talk to you, to comfort you, to guide you, to help you.

 

It starts with a step and turns into a lifetime of possibilities. So take a walk today.

 

Marie Fremin, 1/27-28/16

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Sacrifice Your Isaac

Sometimes God calls us to do crazy things. Things that don’t make any sense to us. Things that seem too radical or too far out left field.

 

Just ask Abraham.

 

This guy waited 25 years for his promised son Isaac. From the moment he was called away from his family (Genesis 12:1-3) through Sarah’s ill-conceived plan of his son Ishmael (Genesis 16) through the destruction of Sodom (Genesis 19) until finally, at age 100, Isaac is born (Genesis 21:1-7). He has now had the opportunity to watch him grow up. To enjoy the child God promised him.

 

And then God asks him to do something totally off the wall. Something no parent I know would even consider doing. God asks him to sacrifice his son in Genesis 22:2 – “Then He said, ‘Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’”

 

God knows Abraham loves the boy. God knows Abraham waited 25 years for the boy. God knows Abraham is a man of great faith, since he believed in the promise of the boy for a quarter of a century.

 

And now they are at a time in Isaac’s life for them to have a relationship and have fun. When God steps in and asks Abraham to give it all up. To take his promised son and offer him to God. To lead him to a place where he must be tied to the altar and burned.

 

God asks him to give up everything he waited for.

 

And what’s even crazier to our human mind is that Abraham does it! He doesn’t hesitate but spends the afternoon preparing. “So Abraham rose early in the morning” (Genesis 22:3a), being obedient promptly to God’s request. He takes Isaac up onto the mountain, journeying three days to God’s chosen place. What happened in those three days? Did Abraham tell Isaac what was going to happen? How often did he pray for a different outcome?

 

The last three days with his son. Journeying toward this precious boy’s death. God almost seems cruel in these moments, doesn’t He?

 

But He isn’t. God always has a plan.

 

So Abraham builds the altar and ties Isaac to it (Genesis 22:9). He has the knife poised to plunge into his son’s body (Genesis 22:10). The whole time he has been confessing that God is good and God will provide another way (Genesis 22:8 – “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering”). But now it looks bleak. He starts to move the knife.

Sacrifice Your Isaac.jpg

And God shows up. An angel appears and stops Abraham. He has proven he loves God more than anything else, and God honors his faith by giving him back his beloved son (Genesis 22:12-13).

 

His faith was more radical then actions. And because of that, God comes through for him.

 

So the story has a happy ending. But we have to wonder – Why did God ask him to do something so outrageous? Did Isaac become more important to Abraham that God was? Or was God wondering if Abraham was still totally sold out to Him? On so many levels it just doesn’t make sense.

 

But God calls us to do the same thing.  He asks us to take that thing that’s most important to us, our Isaac, and lay it down at his feet. To surrender it to Him to use for His purposes. To give up something we cherish just because He asks us to. And it won’t be something easy or forgettable. It won’t be something we just have laying around. It will be something valuable to us. Something precious to us. Something we love or appreciate greatly.

 

Because if we won’t give it up to Him, how can we live fully sold out for Him? Because if we won’t lay it down at His feet, how can we truly worship Him? Because if we won’t surrender it to Him, how can we sincerely love Him?

 

For it is our Isaac that will stand between us and a wholehearted relationship with God. Isaac keeps us from fully experiencing the promises of God. Isaac keeps us from walking completely in the plans of God. Isaac keeps us from growing and changing as God wants us to. Isaac prevents us from fully surrendering to God and His will.

 

It is our love of our Isaac that interferes with our love for God. And that is why God commands us to lay our Isaac on the altar, just as He did to Abraham. Because God knows that only when we are willing to let go completely of our Isaac, to turn it over and possibly burn it up, that we show our devotion to Him. Because God isn’t satisfied with part of our heart – He wants it all. So we have to relocate and reassign our Isaac to give God room to invade us fully. And in doing so, He will bless us just as He blessed Abraham – and He may even give us our Isaac back.

 

Marie Fremin, 1/18/16

At the Edge

Israel had just made a massive and miraculous escape from Egypt after 430 years of being slaves. Through God’s providence and Moses’ obedience, Israel’s slavery ends in one night. Pharaoh and his people “urged the Israelites to hurry and leave” (Exodus 12:33) and gave them “articles of silver and gold and clothing” (Exodus 12:35) on their way out.

 

Now Israel is finally free of their Egyptian slavery and are headed toward the Promised Land – the land God first promised to their forefather Abraham. The land they have been waiting for, “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 13:5) that was more than able to hold them and sustain them.

 

There is only one more obstacle standing between them and their future – the Red Sea.

 

The place where God will seal once and for all that “the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord” (Exodus 14:4). The place where Israel has to decide whether to turn back to their bitter past or walk boldly toward their bright future. The place where Israel had to decide if God was really real and faithful. The place where their past came back to meet them and challenge their forward progress. The place where boldness is either extinguished or empowered.

 

The testing ground of your faith. The battle ground for your future. The proving ground for your heart.

 

So there Israel stood, the intimidating Egyptian army behind them and the mighty Red Sea in front of them. And no safe ground. No hiding place. No escape.

 

You’re probably in the same place now in some way. You are standing at your Red Sea – the shore of your dreams, destiny, and purpose. Your past is vigilantly chasing you, wanting to stop you and chain you down. It is relentless and ruthless in staring you down and trying to intimidate you into giving up.

 

In front of you is the future, the hope of something bright and new. That opportunity you’ve been waiting for. That relationship you’ve been dreaming about. That dream you’ve hoped would come to pass.

 

And you have a decision to make. You have to take a step.

 

So do you step into the waters toward all God has promised you and into freedom? Or do you turn back and allow the past to swallow you up and steal your future?

 

Do you walk toward God and His grace? Or do you run away from His goodness back into your hurt and shame?

 

The choice is yours. You are standing at the water’s edge with a big decision to make.

At the Edge

God has parted the raging waters and made a safe path for you to walk toward Him. He is on the other side, waiting for you with open arms.

 

What will you do?

 

Don’t give into fear as Israel did (Exodus 14:10-12). Don’t be persuaded or moved by the physical things you see.

 

Because God is in control.

Because God has a plan for your good and His glory.

Because God wants better for you than your past.

Because “the Lord will fight for you” (Exodus 14:14) and help you overcome your past.

 

Because God controls the waters in front you and will part them to make passage for you (Exodus 14:21-22) and overflow them onto the past that is chasing you (Exodus 14:27-28).

 

Because God loves you.

 

So your toes are at the water’s edge and the waves are lapping at your feet. Do you turn back to embrace the past or walk toward God and pursue His good plans? Do you choose the pain of the past or the hope of the future?

 

The choice is yours. Make it a good one.

 

Marie Fremin, 1/3/16

Make It Count

Make it count. An interesting phrase. I read it in this great article about prayer[i]. Bronwyn Lea talks about praying “God, make it count” instead of “God, make it better”.

 

Make what count?

 

Make my experiences count.

Make my waiting count.

Make my pain count.

Make my tears count.

Make my impatience count.

Make my anger count.

 

Make all those moments in between my prayers, when I am dealing with real life, count for something. Make all those emotions when I had to decide whether to doubt You or trust You, when I could have gone either way, count for something. Make all the pain of living in a broken world, when I both hurt and am hurt, count for something. Make all my bad reactions count for something. Make all the craziness, chaos, and confusion count for something. Make all the emotional upheavals, uncertainty, and shaken faith count. Make all the surety and confidence count. Make it all count for something in the grand scope of life and Your plans.

 

It’s so easy to pray “God, make it better.” That would be the easiest thing for us. But there is no real change, sacrifice, or growth in it for us.

 

What if it isn’t God’s best for us to just make it better? What if God is building resiliency, dependency, and consistency in us? What if God has a more eternal plan in mind? What if God is polishing and shaping us so His light shines more brightly and clearly through us?

 

So that His grace is more evident.

So that His forgiveness is more obvious.

So that His love is more visible.

 

He counts every emotion, every thought, every experience, and every action. And He will redeem them all, both good and bad, to produce His life in you and promote His grace through you.

Do you want your life to count? Do you want your prayers to count? Trust Him in all moments, at all times, and in all things. And He will make it count.

Make It Count.jpg

[i] http://bronlea.com/2013/08/06/one-little-word-that-radically-changed-my-prayers/

 

Marie Fremin, 1/3/16

My Ishmael vs. God’s Isaac

Ishmael. Those things we do ourselves because we think we are smarter and know better than God.

 

Ishmael is a child of Genesis that comes into being because of Sarai’s arrogance and impatience.

 

I started thinking about him yesterday when reading day 1 of Mark Batterson’s “Draw the Circle” prayer challenge. Mark uses Moses as an example of getting ahead of God and as a warning – “don’t try to manufacture your own miracles. Don’t try to answer your own prayers. Don’t try to do God’s job for Him.” (Batterson 20)[i]

 

But I don’t think Moses is the best example. I think Sarai is. Abram’s wife knows the repeated promise of God to bless them abundantly, including descendants (“And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered.” (Genesis 13:16)). But the couple is still childless after eleven years, and Sarai is beyond her childbearing years. So how is God going to accomplish this?

 

This must be something Sarai asked herself daily. She must have repeated it to herself so many times that she started to doubt God would come through. After all, it had been 11 years. It didn’t matter that God had just repeated the promise to Abram (Genesis 15:5) and assured them that they would have a child, despite their age (Genesis 15:4). Sarai had somehow convinced herself that God didn’t really mean it and maybe she could make it happen.

 

So Sarai decided she was smarter than God and pushed Abram to have a baby with her maidservant Hagar (Genesis 16:1-4a). Yes, Abram went along with her crazy plan and took Hagar as another wife. Hagar did get pregnant, so Sarai got exactly what she wanted. But she didn’t get it the easy way she expected. For Hagar thinks she is the true and superior woman, as “her mistress became despised in her eyes” (Genesis 16:4-5), and she lords her pregnancy over Sarai. She must have treated Sarai rather obnoxiously, since “Sarai dealt harshly with her” (Genesis 16:6b) and Hagar flees. Hagar wandered alone and scared until God met her in the wilderness and sent her back to Sarai.

 

So after eleven years, there is finally a son in the camp. Ishmael. Son of Abram and Hagar. Not the promised son of Abram and Sarai, the heir to God’s promises and provision.

 

Sarai got the son she was promised, but it wasn’t in God’s timing or way. And she had to deal with both mother and child in her house until after the promised son Isaac was born. Who knows what their relationship looked like when Hagar returned, but the damage was done and feelings hurt. It doesn’t say that she did, but I am sure Sarai realized the seriousness of her quick decision and did some serious repenting with God. Because she had to face the consequences of her decision every day – in the face of a son who wasn’t biologically hers.

 

Because she assumed she could produce the promise as well as – if not better than – God. As a result, she and Abram were responsible to take care of Ishmael. The son whose existence was based solely on an irrational, hasty, and irresponsible decision of Sarai and Abram.

 

So what can we learn from Sarai? In those moments we are hasty, impulsive, irrational, and unthinking. In those moments we think we know better than God. Things blow up in our face. Things get difficult. We get exactly what we want without the grace of God to make it enjoyable. And we have the responsibility to take care of those things we brought to life.

 

So do you want the burden of being of your own god? Or do you want the blessing of walking in the grace of God’s plans? Do you want to make your own way and cut your own path? Or do you want to walk side-by-side with God, who will illuminate the right path for you? Do you want to foolishly think you know better and are smarter than God? Or do you want to surrender to His plans and His timing with patience, endurance, and fortitude?

 

It’s a simple difference. My pride verses God’s grace. My selfishness verses God’s goodness. My impatience verses His perfect timing. My imperfection verses God’s perfection.

 

So what do you want? To take care of your Ishmael or to enjoy the blessing of His Isaac? The choice is yours!

 

God, help me not to birth any Ishmael’s. Help me to not run ahead of you because I think You aren’t working on my behalf. Help me to curb any impatience and frustration because I can’t see the bigger picture. Correct me when I try to go my own way and rely on my own warped thinking. Redirect me when I start to go my own way. Thank You for loving me enough to want the best for me, even when I am too stubborn to realize it. God, I don’t want my plans to succeed and prosper, because there are no godly roots in them; therefore I will have to strive and struggle to make them work. I want to walk in Your plans, where there is peace and grace and success. Ishmael is my insistence on being right, which leads to pain, hurt, and failure. I want an Isaac, the fulfillment of Your promises that comes with Your grace and blessing. Help me Lord to wait on the perfect timing of Your Isaac instead of charging ahead to create my Ishmael. I want to be fruitful instead of frustrated, and I can only get there by trusting You to bring the best things for me in Your timing. Help me to pause and pray before plowing ahead with my plans. In Jesus’s all-powerful name. AMEN!

 

[i] Batterson, Mark. “Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge.” Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012.

 

Marie Fremin, 1/1-2/16

Give Your All

I heard several pastors recently include Mark 12:30 in their sermons. This verse tell us that the greatest command is that “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength”.

 

And God has really been speaking to me about this verse. We all understand the concept of loving God and trying to love people in the same unconditional way He does. We all think we grasp the extent of God’s love and can possibly mimic it to some degree.

 

But do you realize what the most important word in that verse is? It is “all”. How many of us understand the vital importance of surrendering everything we are to Him?

 

What is our all?

 

Every emotion.

Every thought.

Every attitude.

Every intention.

Every word.

Every action.

Every decision.

Every ambition.

Every reaction.

Every hurt.

Every condition/rule.

Every judgment.

Every prejudice.

Every stereotype.

 

Give Him your all. It starts from the innermost, most secret places within you.  Where darkness desires to enter and take root to turn godly fruit into selfish pursuits. Where sin creeps its way in inch by inch to invade all these areas.

 

So how do we combat it? How do we give Him our all?

 

By forgiving (every wrong, regardless of an apology).

By letting go (completely, without strings or conditions).

By reconciling (sincerely, out of a repentant heart).

By praying (continuously for guidance).

By pausing (before acting and reacting).

By loving (all people at all times, no exceptions).

By obeying (without hesitation).

By serving (giving of yourself to others).

By giving mercy (as often as you can).

By promoting grace (in all situations and for all behavior).

By trusting Him (no matter what you are going through and struggling with).

 

By living your life in a way that confesses that you don’t have all the answers and can’t do it by yourself. By being open and honest with your strengths (gifts) and your weaknesses (struggles). By going to God with anything and everything about your life, asking for His strength and guidance. By glowing His love whenever and wherever you can. By knowing you were not created to be perfect but to be growing and changing. By accepting you are a sinful creature with a perfect Savior who has already made a way for you to live victoriously in today. By knowing you are a work in progress and the goal of each day to is do a little better than yesterday.

Give Your All

So are you ready to give Him your all? He will fill all your empty spaces, overwrite all your pain, cleanse all your sin, uplift all your weaknesses, bless all your talents, redeem all your tears, replace all your fears, overcome all your doubts, rename all your shame, and tame all your pride. In other words, He will love you into wholeness so your all becomes a force for His goodness and grace.

 

Marie Fremin, 12/28/15

Rebekah and her devilish influence

The Bible is about an amazing collection of people and their stories. When you read it, you read about people just like you – people who have fears, doubts, insecurities, and failures. You read about people who lie, cheat, steal, and deceive.

 

Rebekah is one of these people. She loved her younger son Jacob so much she was willing to do whatever it took to make sure he received the blessing of his father Isaac. She encouraged and pushed Jacob through the process of deception. There are several things that Rebekah does in Genesis 27 that point us to tricks the enemy uses on us to persuade us away from God and His truth.

 

  1. He looks for and finds an area of weakness. In Genesis 27:1a, he uses Isaac’s increasing age and dimming eyesight to set the scene for Rebekah. Isaac is limited in the senses that still work, so it is the perfect open door to manipulate him.

 

What’s an area of weakness for you? Are you emotionally driven? Do you like to talk, gossip, or complain? Are you stingy with your money? Are you holding onto hurts from the past that cause you to be cold and distant around people? Examine yourself and search your heart to find areas where the devil can easily overtake you. Give each area to God.

 

  1. He waits for an opportunity or open door. Isaac had asked his older son Esau to fetch some game and make him some stew. In Genesis 27:5a, Rebekah overhears him send Esau away, and her mind begins to turn with a plan to trick her husband. She quickly approaches her son Jacob, her favored son. And so her plan begins to form.

 

There was already trouble brewing, since each parent had a favorite child. In verse 5 it says “…Isaac spoke to Esau his son” and verse 6 says “Rebekah spoke to Jacob her son”. There was already tension and possibly animosity among the family because of this idea of the favored child. With one parent visually challenged and one child away hunting, what a perfect opportunity for the other parent to step in and push her favorite child toward God’s blessing. It wasn’t his fault he was born second, so why should he be deprived?

 

So why not sneak around? Why not eavesdrop on your husband? It seems like a pretty dysfunctional marriage, where they have drawn a line and chosen favorites. Did they ever sit down and talk? Were they ever on the same team and wavelength? Perhaps not, since they are living by extremes at this point. Extremes which become evident by Rebekah’s sneaky behavior.

 

What behavior do you have in your life that is extreme? That is too far out there? That hurts people? That isn’t right? Are you emotionally driven and tend to overreact? Are you vocally silly and tend to tease too much? Are you always angry? Are you critical of everyone and everything? Any of these areas you can identify are just the invitation the devil needs to invade your life – to effect your thinking, your moods, your words, and your actions. He’s waiting for any open door and any foothold you give him.

 

  1. He makes himself appear like God and supersedes God’s word as your authority. As soon as Rebekah has overheard Isaac send Esau away, her mind begins to scheme. She immediately gets busy putting her plan into action. And it starts with getting her son Jacob on board. To do so, she needs to convince him to “obey my voice according to what I command you” (Genesis 27:8) instead of listening to his common sense or the leading of God.

 

How easy it is for us to try to ignore or override the voice of God. Don’t we all want to go our own way and do what makes us feel good? And don’t we do a great job justifying why it’s OK? Rebekah didn’t hesitate to make herself THE voice in Jacob’s life, drowning out the discerning voice of God he may have heard. She may have talked herself blue in the face to make sure Jacob heard only her.

 

But God tells us in John 10:27 that any follower of His knows His voice (“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me”). They know what He has declared to be right and wrong and carefully consider their actions before moving. They don’t try to justify their behavior or qualify their actions. Because they know better than to make themselves their own god (Romans 1:18-23). It doesn’t work. It won’t make them happy. It will have unpleasant consequences.

 

So in what area are you listening to your emotions instead of God? In what area are you allowing yourself to make the final decisions instead of asking God the better way? Stop allowing yourself to supersede God’s authority in your life.

 

  1. He plants his lies in our heart and mind. Once he has a foothold, he will push and shove and wiggle his way until he takes up all the space that should belong to God. He starts with a seed of doubt or deceit and grows it quickly and effectively. Once Rebekah knew she had Jacob listening, she was quick to put her plan into action. She knows she has convinced Jacob almost completely to go along with her, so now she pushes him to move. In Genesis 27:9-10, she tells Jacob to bring her two goats that she will prepare for him to bring into his father. Now Jacob has to get physically involved in the deceit, and to his credit he does at least pause for a moment.

 

Half truths and untruths are constantly hurled at us. They come at us from every direction and at every opportunity. And every one of them is a lie the devil wants us to swallow and accept without question. He wants us to believe things about ourselves that don’t line up with God’s truth. He wants us to believe we deserve less than God’s best and will never be worthy of God’s grace. When God says just the opposite.

 

So these wrong messages are constantly attacking us and trying to penetrate our truths. All these need is one crack, one doubt, one second of disbelief to get in and take hold. And then become the weed that spreads quickly and with abandon in our soul, choking out the truth. So what do you do to combat these things?

 

  1. He rejects any objections and doubts you have. Jacob does pause for a moment when he hears his mother’s plan to send him in as his brother Esau. Why? Because Esau was a hairy man, and Jacob was not (Genesis 27:11). Apparently not because of any moral compass or godly intervention. But because he was scared of getting busted – “Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be a deceiver to him; and I shall bring a curse on myself and not a blessing.” (Genesis 27:12). So Rebekah steps up again and silences Jacob’s objections. She tells him “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, get them for me” (Genesis 27:13).

 

The devil is quick to silence your doubts and smother your questions. He doesn’t want you to linger you very long on your hesitations, as that gives you time to consider the truth and use it to overwrite his lies.

 

Because he wants us to be like Jacob. He wants us to just consider how we can get away with it without getting caught. He wants us to think only of ourselves and our happiness. He doesn’t want us to consider right and wrong and other people. So he is our Rebekah, standing there telling us everything will be alright if we just follow his leading and trust him.

 

But that doubt is there for a reason. That doubt is the Spirit of God trying to guide you in the right direction. Trying to tell you the way God prefers you go. So how do you deal with doubt? What is your normal first reaction? Do you do what Paul commands in Ephesians 6:13, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand”?

 

  1. He covers the truth of God with his lies. If there is any kernel of the truth left in your consciousness, the devil will be quick to cover it and squash it. He doesn’t want it growing into anything that will contradict the plans he has to destroy your life. Rebekah does this in Genesis 27:15-16 by covering Jacob in Esau’s clothing and the hides of goats. The tent-dwelling cook has now physically been transformed into the hunter. Enough to bypass the limited sensibility his father has. Because if he touches or smells his clothing, hands, or neck, Jacob is Esau. Then she sends Jacob in to meet his father as his brother Esau. Will the deception be successful?

 

Jacob appears to have no hesitation at this point to be included in the deception. After all, he’ll come out pretty well if he succeeds. It doesn’t matter that it won’t be honest, right, or natural. Because Jacob will benefit. At least I assume this is how he justified it.

 

How do you normally respond to the pressure to conform? Do you allow yourself to be a fully willing participant? What “clothing” are you putting on to cover up the sin in your life? There should always be a piece of your soul that reminds you that those sinful choices aren’t the best option for you because they don’t fit who you are as a child of God.

 

  1. He replaces the truth of God with his lies. So Jacob is adorned as Esau, and he enters his father Isaac’s tent. He presents himself as Esau in Genesis 27:19. He even has a response for when Isaac questions how quickly he returned – “Because the Lord your God brought it to me” (Genesis 27:20). So now Jacob is all in. The lies have started, and he is fully involved in the deceit. Could he still back out at this point? Sure. It would be the right thing to do. But he has now become the lie, and it appears he intends to follow through.

 

How quick are you to say “Lord Your God” instead of “Lord My God”? Because if we own Him and admit relationship with Him then we have to follow Him, obey Him, and seek Him. Jacob didn’t have a relationship with God, and he made it clear to his father that his God wasn’t his God. Do you distance yourself from God because you know you would have to act differently? Think differently? Take responsibility?

 

How have you distorted God’s Word to suit your desires? How have you made your own way right around His truth? Was it successful?

 

  1. He distorts (confuses) your perspective so you see what he wants you to see. Jacob is now fully involved and standing the tent. He is saying “I am Esau” to his blind and aged father, hoping he is physically disabled enough to believe him. Despite his failing health, Isaac has one sense that still works and should give him clarity – his hearing. When talking to Jacob, Isaac realizes that “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau” (Genesis 27:22). But he allows his other lesser functioning senses to convince him.

 

At this point in the story, we want to ground Jacob, send Rebekah to therapy, and shake Isaac. He has indicators of the truth, but he doesn’t stop to consult God or ask for His guidance. He allows his overwhelmed senses to be his guide, and because they are confused by conflicting information, the evidence of truth is distorted. Isaac wants to be with Esau, so he slowly convinces himself that he is with Esau. Despite the voice he hears that belongs to Jacob. If I could intervene at this point, I would tell Isaac to STOP and pray. To listen to that voice of dissidence that is contradicting what he feels.

 

But don’t we sometimes want the truth to be the lie? Don’t we sometimes readily allow ourselves to believe the distorted and deceptive “truth” presented to us because it is want we want? But that’s not how God wants us to respond. We need to have a plan and a strategy to deal with conflicting information in our lives. We need to be able to silence all the voices except the whisper of God and discern His truth.

 

  1. He assures and reassures you so you believe his lies. Isaac still had one shred of lingering doubt, so he asks a second time “Are you really my son Esau?” to Jacob (Genesis 27:24). He probably ran through all his questions while he ate of the stew. He might have wrestled with God or prayed about whether he was being silly and overreacting. He might have argued with himself that his hearing was failing just as his other senses were. Who knows what went through Isaac’s mind as he was eating and drinking. But he was definitely considering his options, to assure himself that Jacob was really Esau.

 

Yet despite any assurance he had, there was still that one remaining seed of doubt. Surely Esau couldn’t project Jacob’s voice, so maybe, just maybe, it was Jacob pretending to be Esau. But how could he find out without being obvious? And then it hit Isaac – “Come near now and kiss me, my son” (Genesis 27:26) he asks. Because he knew in kissing him he would be close to his sensitive neck area. Jacob wouldn’t have been smart enough to mask that area, right?

 

Are you listening to that one last shred of doubt? Are you stopping to ask God the right way to go? Or are you giving in and allowing that doubt to overshadow everything else?

 

  1. You finally believe the lie without question because all lingering doubts have been laid to rest. One shred of doubt, and Isaac ignored it. He has Jacob come near again, and he sense of smell convinces him once and for all that he is dealing with Esau. Genesis 27:27 says “he smelled the smell of his clothing, and blessed him”.

 

The thing Jacob wanted he got. And it only took deceiving his father and betraying his brother to do it. For in Genesis 27:28-29 he gets the provision and providence of God’s blessing, the same blessing given to his grandfather Abraham in Genesis 12:3. What’s truly significant – and perhaps points to one last lingering shred of doubt – is that Isaac never mentions Esau by name in the blessing. He does not call out a personal name at any time.

 

So the question for Jacob at this point would be “was it worth it?”. He deceives his father, who is heartbroken when he finds out. He deceives his brother, who is angry and swears his death when he comes back. And as a result, he has to flee to his mother’s family and leave everything he knows. And then we would turn to Rebekah and ask her “was it worth it?”. Because now her family is torn apart, her husband and elder son will be furious with her, and she has lost her favored son.

 

Because no one hesitated. Because no one heeded that warning voice of God in their spirit. Because no one stopped to pray. Because everyone was self involved and self focused.

 

Yes, God’s sovereignty was at work, since the blessing was technically Jacob’s anyway at this point (Hebrews 12:17). God had a plan for Jacob, a big plan with a providential future. God planned to take the cheater and turn him into a sold-out believer. But it didn’t have to play out like this, with deceit and lies. It didn’t have to destroy a family. It wasn’t supposed to be in Rebekah’s timing.

 

It all started with sin. God warned Cain (and us) that sin wants to control us (Genesis 4:6-7).

 

Once you are willing to do a little wrong, the door is open and the enemy is ready to charge through. He’s waiting for any opportunity to pierce your armor and take control of your thoughts, your emotions, your actions, and your love walk. He won’t miss a beat, and he’s watching and waiting for you to open the door.

 

It only takes one. One moment of disobedience. One moment of doubt. One moment of self involvement. One moment of self importance. One moment of anger. One moment of hesitation. One moment of not praying. One moment of over-questioning. One moment of not questioning. One moment of not seeing God’s goodness. One moment of focusing on the bad and the wrong.

 

So now we ask a few hard questions:

  • How far are you willing to go to get your way?
  • How easily can you convince others to go along with your plans?
  • How quickly are you obedient to follow God?
  • Does your obedience have conditions or limits?
  • How easily are you distracted from seeking God?
  • Do you have a dim or limited vision of God’s goodness?
  • How is your sin giving the devil an opportunity in your life? How does it effect your thinking, your attitude, and your emotions?
  • Are you always looking out for yourself, even if it means hurting someone else?
  • How often do you think you know better than God? How does that turn out?
  • How often do you try to trick or deceive God? How does that turn out?

 

Jesus warns us in Matthew 26:41 to “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

 

So we should be on constant guard for ourselves and because of ourselves. We don’t always have our best interest at heart, and we can unintentionally hurt people in our pursuit of the good life.

 

Because we don’t want to be a Rebekah. We don’t want to cheat, lie, and steal to get the better deal. We don’t want to lead people down the path of destruction to make ourselves happy.

 

Because we don’t want to be an Isaac. We don’t want to be easily manipulated and deceived. We don’t want to be an easy target for people’s whims. We don’t want to ignore that one element of truth screaming at us to listen.

 

Because we don’t want to be a Jacob. We don’t want to be the pawn in someone else’s games and schemes. Because we shouldn’t be easily persuaded to do something that pricks our conscience. Because we don’t want to live only in the moment without faith for the future.

 

We want to be people who passionately, personally, and regularly pursue God and His will for our lives. Without our manipulation, our help, and our input. Because doesn’t our Father know best?

 

Marie Fremin.   4/8/15, 12/27/15