Posted By Nan

Exodus 1:1-14, 2:1-10, 23-25, 3:1-22, 12:1-13, 13:1-16, Numbers 14, Malachi
As God had promised Abraham, he was making him into a mighty nation. As God had told Abraham, his descendants were captive in Egypt and growing into a mighty nation. 400 years they suffered and waited for God to free them. I am sure they all heard the story of Abraham and God’s promise to him and I am sure they wondered if God had forgotten them. Meanwhile they grew into a mighty nation. Finally, God heard their call. He prompted a Levite woman to hide her son from Pharaoh’s soldiers because she could see that he was fair in the sight of God. For 40 years that child lived in Pharaoh’s palace before he apparently realised he was an Israelite. Then for 40 years he lived in the desert until God summoned him to the burning bush and sent him back to Egypt to lead the mighty nation of Abraham out of Egypt into the promised land. We all know the story. The people rebelled against God and God forbade any of that generation to enter the promised land. So Moses led the people in the wilderness for 40 years until they all died. Then he led the next generation to the borders of the promised land and he died as well.
The people waited 400 years for God to lead them out of Egypt. The people waited 40 years in the desert before God led them into the promised land. We wait for God’s promises and sometimes we wait impatiently. The Israelites waited 400 years but could not wait 40 years in the desert despite all that God had done for them, even supplying them with food and water. The first consequence of becoming impatient is sin. And that leads to separation from God.
If you look at the Jewish people at the time of Jesus, they had been waiting about 400 years from the words of Malachi to the Jewish people promising the arrival in time of the promised Messiah. As you can see also from Malachi, the Israelites had remained a rebellious people and had eventually lost the promised land and were stuck in a small corner of the Persian Empire. Yet Malachi promised the faithful remnant who had not turned away from God the joy of the promised Messiah and, preceding him, his servant Elijah.
Waiting is hard and we are no better than the Jewish people. We don’t wait well either. This week of Advent I am focusing on the difficulty of waiting for God’s promises. The difficulty of trusting when things look so hopeless. The difficulty of resisting impatience and the inevitable sin that flows from that. And the importance of waiting patiently.
 

 
Posted By Nan

Genesis 12:1-8, 13:14-18, 15:1:7, 16:15-16, 17:1-22, 21:1-7
When Abraham was 75 years old, God told him to leave his country, his people and his father’s household and go to the land God would show him. Quite a big ask. God also promised He would make Abraham into a great nation.
Abraham was a righteous man, so he did as God had commanded. At 75 years old he must have expected God to give him children soon. After all, he had to be made into a great nation and that can’t happen without children.
So he travelled to Canaan and wandered around the land for many years. He still did not have any children. But God encouraged him. Again, God showed him the land that he would give to Abraham’s descendants.
Many more years passed and Abraham still had no children. God again came to him, reminding him that He was Abraham’s King. By this stage Abraham was getting a little downhearted. He asked God what God could give him when he still had no children. Without children there would be no descendants to fulfil God’s promise of Abraham becoming a great nation who would occupy the land of Canaan as their own. God repeated His promise to Abraham but this time made it more specific. Abraham would indeed give him an heir. A son coming from his own body and his descendants would be more numerous than the stars in the night sky.
And Abraham believed God.
But Sarah did not. It had been over ten years since God had first promised Abraham a nation of descendants. She grew impatient because she was his only wife and had borne him no children. She asked Abraham to have children to her maidservant so she could have children through her. That was not what God had intended.
At 99 years of age, 24 years after God’s promise. God again gave Abraham His promise of a nation of descendants through Sarah. The son she would bear would be born to her at the age of 90, long after hope of her fertility had departed. Abraham would be 100.
And God gave Abraham and Sarah a son as He had promised.
The story of Abraham and Sarah is a deeply personal story. It is the story of one man and his wife. It is the story of an impossible promise and Abraham’s wait for that promise to be fulfilled.
Abraham grew tired of waiting at times. He argued with God about the nonappearance of children but was reassured by God’s reiterated promise. He allowed his wife to talk him into forcing God’s hand by giving him a child to her maidservant. Eventually he received the son 25 years after God had promised him.
Abraham was credited as righteous and God rewarded him for his righteousness. But even he faltered sometimes in his faith. It is hard to hold on to faith when the promise takes so long. We long for an answer quickly. In hours, days, weeks. And sometimes God answers us that quickly. But more often He answers us in years. Sometimes that answer takes centuries. We cannot rush God. His answer will come at exactly the right time. Any attempt on our part to rush the answer along will lead to trouble. I am sure that every time Abraham tried to take matters into his own hands He repented and God forgave him. It is comforting to know that in our time of waiting, when our impatience causes us to doubt God or even attempt to pre-empt Him, He will still forgive us.
As we wait for the celebration of Jesus’ birth, may we not grow weary of waiting.
As we wait for God’s answers in our lives may we not grow weary of waiting. Look to the Bible. God’s answers sometimes take an incredibly long time to come, yet they always come.
May God keep you strong in Him during your time of waiting.
 

 
Posted By Nan

I had hoped by now I would be finished my Masters degree and be able to devote more time to my blog. But God has had other plans. So I am waiting.
I am waiting to be finished with my degree, which will happen shortly before Christmas.
I am waiting for the extra time I long for to do all those things I have put off over the past three years.
I am waiting for a new home, one that we can own after so many years of being at the mercy of landlords.
I am waiting for life to unfold in the New Year.
I am waiting for God.
Waiting isn’t always easy. It is often hard, particularly when I don’t know when the waiting period will end or if it will even be something positive.
Today I read a blog by Lisa-Jo Baker and she spoke of waiting as boring, hurting, confusing. Of how waiting can make you feel small and worthless and defeated.
That is so true.
We live in a time when we are waiting for Jesus to return. The people of the Old Testament waited for the time when Jesus would come for the first time.
I am sure they were bored. I am sure they hurt. I am sure they were confused.
As the Roman’s invaded their homeland and imposed Roman rule on it, yet another power denying them the right to their own home, I am sure they felt small, worthless and defeated.
There were some who waited in that defeat. They were so caught up in it they didn’t recognise Jesus when He came.
Others waited with delight and expectation. In Luke 2:21-40 we read about Simeon and Anna.
Simeon loved God. He sought God constantly in prayer. He sought to live a righteous life. He waited for the ‘consolation of Israel’ (v25 NIV). That time when the smallness, worthlessness and defeat would be swept away as the promised Messiah arrived as a comforter for God’s people. Simeon had been waiting a long time and was very old. Simeon loved God so much he had been given the power of the Holy Spirit to recognise the Messiah when He came. What was more God had promised him he would not die before he had seen the Messiah. What joy filled Simeon’s life! I imagine he waited not in defeat and worthlessness but the excitement of a woman waiting for a child to be born or the excitement of a child waiting for Christmas Day. He knew a blessed event would happen in the future. His waiting had hope. One day, the Holy Spirit told him to go to the Temple in Jerusalem. As he entered the temple courts he saw the eight day old baby being carried by his parents. His delight was great. He took the child in his arms and proclaimed his joy at seeing God’s salvation. His joy was complete. He was ready to spend eternity with God. He was at peace.
Anna also loved God. She was a prophet. She also was very old. She was so devoted to God that she never left the temple. She prayed and fasted and worshipped God day and night. Imagine her delight when she also recognised the child being carried into the temple. She also gave thanks to God and proclaimed throughout the Temple the arrival of the Messiah.
Simeon and Anna waited. I am sure there were times when they were tired and wondered if the Messiah would ever come. But they waited and continued to seek God and worship Him.
In this time of Advent I want to focus on that waiting and on what to do during that waiting. I will post blogs definitely for every Sunday of Advent. God willing I will also post others that may come up.
In this time of Advent I am delighted that God demonstrates that He keeps His promises. That all waiting comes to an end. And the end is worth the wait even when it feels like a defeat.
 

 
Posted By Nan

29:2
When the righteous thrive the people rejoice. The righteous. Those who love God. Those who seek to submit to Him. To be all about Him. To service Him. To put self aside in order to allow God to increase in them. To love their neighbour. Those people who seek to be nice because they are strong people who don’t need to put others down to feel good about themselves. Who genuinely see others as beautiful people that God loves. That person who seeks to understand, love and support is someone that is easy to be with. Their beautiful, gentle energy is encouraging and affirming to others. Small wonder then that when the righteous are present in an environment then others in that environment feel safe and happy. What better cause for rejoicing? This is a glimpse of God’s love.
But when the wicked are the ones in power people groan under the weight of their negativity. The wicked. Those who hate God. Those who seek to use their power over others. Those who are all about themselves. Those who serve self. Those who put themselves ahead of everyone else. Those who abuse their power to put others down. Those who seek to control, to isolate, to manipulate others. These people love self not God. They don’t want to understand, love or support anyone else. They want to control and dominate. Their negative energy crushes and brings others down. There is no rejoicing in the presence of such people, just a search for the nearest exit.
Which person do you seek to be?
 

 
Posted By Nan

29:1
Are you stubborn? Do you refuse to accept the help God offers you? Are you so busy ‘enjoying’ your miserable circumstances that you refuse to listen to God’s gift of a solution to your problem? So you remain in your misery because it gives you attention you crave, or meets your needs, even though God is calling you out?
If you answered yes, then this verse is for you.
If you refuse God’s directive then destruction will come swiftly and without warning.
There are many ways we are stubborn before God:
There is the obvious one where we are doing something contrary to His directive and we ignore His admonition to stop. Think of Jonah, who preferred to flee to the other side of the known world to avoid carrying out God’s directive to give the people of Ninevah a message. Even when he finally did what God asked of him, he walked through the town whispering so the people couldn’t hear him. But they did hear and he was not happy.
Then there are other ways we are stubborn. For example, there is the hurting person who does everything possible to avoid healing because the payback of remaining unhealed is greater than the blessing of healing. Remember Jesus asking the man at the well if he wanted to get better? So often we don’t. It is easier to remain in the hole we find ourselves in than take the risk of trusting God and climb out.
These are examples of stubbornness before God. And all these will lead to a sudden and unexpected destruction.
We need to let go of our desire for retribution and go to Ninevah when God directs us. We need to trust God and let go of our fear and hand ourselves to Him for healing.
Only then can we say we are not stubborn. That we trust and honour God and surrender to Him.
It is not easy, but it is rewarding.
Can you do it? Can you let go of self? Can you avoid sudden destruction and trust God?
 

 

 

 
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Nan
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