Affirmation of Blessing

Genesis 26:23-25

23From there he went up to Beersheba. 24That night the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.” 25Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the Lord. There he pitched his tent, and there his servants dug a well.

Weighing Scale

Do you watch your weight? I do and resented it. Our weighing scale does not know how to lie about my weight ever. I was hoping that it malfunctions each time I check my weight so that I may be encouraged by some sort but it did not. Not once! Aren’t we yearning for a bit of encouragement sometimes?

How do you find encouragement? Many times, truth hurts feelings, ey?

When you lift weights, won’t you smile when someone say, “Oh, you’re growing muscles!” When you try to lose weight, won’t you be encouraged when someone say, “You’re getting slimmer?” Or, if you are particular with your hair or appearance, won’t you like it when someone tells you, “You look so beautiful or you’re handsome today!” We like appreciations beyond our natural appearance.

We also like it when others wish us betterment in life. Does exaggeration of the not-so-obvious things considered lie? Does exaggeration or lying help us grow mature spiritually? Does it not lead one to live in pretension?

When we hide lonely feelings inside us, we smile or laugh. This lifestyle of pretension has already infected believers’ lifestyle and the church. And, it makes relationship inside the church becomes much strange. It has become more challenging to know genuine believers and those who are pretending.

It is easier to make necessary adjustments if people don’t pretend, right?

When Isaac became very wealthy and powerful in Gerar, King Abimelek did not hide his displeasure. He told him to move away. Because he had many cattle and sheep to pasture, Isaac tried to settle in the valley but herders in Gerar quarreled with him. So, he relocated again. It says in Matthew 5:9, 9Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Theologians interpret that Isaac was a peacemaker. He avoided quarrels.

Sometime later, Isaac may have been more cautious that the herders of Gerar may follow and quarrel with him again. So, he just decided to return and relocate in Beersheba where his father Abraham used to live.

1. Relocate

23From there he went up to Beersheba. 

Should we interpret that when Isaac relocated to Beersheba, he just did not want confrontation? Did he move to Beersheba in the hope of finding peace, solace or relief from the troubles he had from the people of Gerar? God affirmed His promise to bless Isaac and his descendants in Beersheba. That’s significant!

The name Beershebais properly translated as “place of swearing by seven lambs. It is also a Hebrew term for “well of oath or well of covenant.”

Abimelek and Abraham had a “swearing of oath” to show kindness to each other in Beersheba. Abraham presented seven lambs to Abimelek in Beersheba.

He said in Genesis 21:29. 30“Accept these seven lambs from my hand as a witness that I dug this well.”

          After sometimes, when Isaac had established himself in Beersheba, King Abimelek visited him, and they made ‘swearing of oath’ to show kindness to each other also. The life story of Isaac has practical proofs of how to find more of God’s blessings and His will. Many times we miss God’s blessings because we become satisfied with our situations or when we easily solve our problems.

Labor Union

One challenging reality that believers may face at work places is the unfair labor practices. Salary, health and safety regulations, and overtime are common problem that employees may encounter. The Labor Union or labor movement was formed to address those concerns. Accordingly, having a union on your side makes your job and your workplace safer and fairer.

It sounds very promising and favorable to workers. When there’s problem at work, the ‘Labor Union’ is the savior. So, when should you rely upon Christ as Savior of your life and when should you rely upon labor unions to fight for your worker’s right? Do ‘Labor Unions’ encourage believers to practice faith?

Life at work gives us great opportunity to testify of the Lord’s work in our life.

If you prioritize your testimony as believer, remember what Jesus said in Matthew 10-22-23, 22You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.

And in John 15:21, 21They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.

Labor Union is beneficial but should not substitute our dependence upon the Lord. If each time you have problem at work and you run to Labor Unions for help, it would be hard for you to discern the plan and will of God to bless you.

When Isaac found water, the herders of Gerar quarreled with him and he relocated. If he had fought for his right of ownership, Isaac could have won easily because he had wealth and many servants. He could have easily hired more servants or even form a labor union to help him fight for his right of ownership.

Isaac did not rely upon “Labor Union” or others when the herders of Gerar quarreled with him. He just moved away to another place. God appeared and ratified or affirmed His promise to bless Isaac and his descendants.

2. Ratify

24That night the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.”

Previously, before he settled in Beersheba, Isaac found water in the valley of Gerar and nobody quarreled with him. So, why did Isaac decide to move and settle in Beersheba when nobody quarreled with him? What was he searching for that he decided to leave that place and go to Beersheba?

When there was famine, Isaac relocated to the city of Gerar. In Gerar, the Philistines were hostile to him but God appeared and told him to stay there for a while. So, Isaac stayed in Gerar and prospered. When King Abimelek observed that Isaac prospered, he told Isaac to move out of Gerar.

Isaac relocated in the valley of Gerar because he had many cattle and sheep but the herders of Gerar were also hostile to him, so, he kept on relocating. Then, he found water and nobody quarreled with him. Yet, he still decided, relocated and eventually, settled in Beersheba.

In Beersheba, the Lord appeared and ratified or affirmed His promised to bless Isaac and his descendants. And, Isaac lived in Beersheba a long time.

Observed that even when Isaac found water where no one quarreled with him, he kept on relocating. He decided to live in Beersheba after God appeared and affirmed His blessing to him and his descendants. He stayed at certain place not because of good situations or events. He settled in one place whether it was tough or peaceful because he experienced the presence of God.

The Philistines were hostile to him but he stayed in Gerar because God told him to stay there for while. In Beersheba, nobody quarrel with him and he settled there because it is where God ratified His promise. For Isaac, God’s presence and affirmation dictated his decision to stay or settle in one place.

What made you decide to stay where you are? Generally in Canada, peace and order, employment benefits or lifestyle is far better than many Asian countries but still many Canadians are not satisfied. They continue to complain about many things why? True contentment comes from God alone.

Persecution in Corinth

The Book of Acts tells about tough mission experiences of Paul. His team was persecuted and they moved to another place and spread the gospel.

Paul had a very rough and tough experience in Corinth. In Acts 18:6ff,

6But when they opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”

9One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” 11So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.

In Corinth, Paul struggled with both Jewish and non-Jewish people.

Nonetheless, he stayed in Corinth because he experienced much of God’s grace. Amidst problems surrounding his ministry, Paul testified that God’s grace sustained him in 2 Corinthians 12:9. 9He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Problems or no-problem does not dictate God’s will. We can experience God’s presence with or without problem. For sure, God is Omnipresent. Omni is a Latin word for “all.” He is everywhere but is it easy to feel His presence? When He reveals His plan and will, God affirms that His grace is really sufficient for us.

Most often, we rely upon human effort or ability to solve our problems, instead of seeking God’s grace. We only seek God’s help when our efforts fail. Do you agree that with God, everything works for the good of all who love Him?

Our love of God is more practically display in our obedience to His words.

It says in Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Our natural tendency is to assume that if everything is okay, it’s God’s will.

With or without problem, Isaac’s faith in God became more apparent when he did not hesitate to relocate from one place to another. In Gerar, the Philistines were hostile to him but he stayed there, why? God told him to live there for a while. When King Abimelek told him to move out, Isaac did not insist on staying even without any instruction from the Lord. Why? Isaac obeyed authorities.

When God told him to stay in Gerar, he obeyed and did not pay attention to the Philistines’ hostility. But, when King Abimelek told him to move away, he obeyed even without God’s word. His obedience to authorities was consistent.

At work, if your officemates are hostile to you, will you resign? What if you see a better opportunity? If you receive high salary in your company but the boss decided to terminate your contract, should you go to the ‘labor union’ to save you from being laid off? Would you trust that God wants you to relocate somewhere?

It teaches us Proverbs 16:9, 9In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

God has been faithful to Isaac and may have guided him in his decision.

God appeared whenever decisions were not relevant to His plan for Isaac. When God affirmed His promise in Beersheba, Isaac responded with worship.

3. Respond

25Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the Lord. There he pitched his tent, and there his servants dug a well.

When he built an altar and called on the name of the Lord, it’s commonly interpreted that Isaac worshipped that Lord as his response when God affirmed His promise to bless him and his descendants. When he pitched his tent, Isaac decided to settle in Beersheba and his servant searched for water supply.

When God appeared to Isaac at night, did God appear in his dream? When he built an altar and called on the name of Lord, did Isaac inquire of the Lord if he would settle in the place where God appeared to him?

It was not mentioned if God instructed him settle there but nothing was told that he should relocate again. Isaac may have interpreted that God wanted him to settle in the place where God affirmed His promise of blessing.

We observe that when God promised to bless Isaac, He also affirmed it, why? Did Isaac doubt about it? Did Isaac forget the promise of God?

Truly, we memorize and claim God’s promises. We hear them often but for whatever reason, we tend to forget God’s promises each time we face difficult challenges in life, right? And, we miss the sufficiency of His grace and blessings.

It says in 2 Corinthians 9:8-11, 8And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” 10Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

The word “abundantly” is properly interpreted as “to exceed or surpass the ordinary” sufficiency of all things. Not just one particular aspect of life. God can bless us not just enough, not just adequate but abundance of all things.

Such abundance of God’s blessing includes practical and spiritual things, and the totality of our life experiences in the Lord is the fullness of life.

This, abundance in all things, is a paraphrase of what the Lord Jesus said in John 10:10, 10I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

This fullness of life comes only from the Lord, the author of life. To trust Jesus as Lord is to trust Him to provide for our needs in all aspects of life.

Christ is our Creator. He designed the fullness of life. He certainly knows the best life we can ever experience on earth and in heaven. What does it imply?

We may plan for things we assume that may give us the best lifestyle. But, human plan is limited and will always be insufficient, not enough, not satisfying. We will always find ourselves searching for contentment.

We should pray and ask the Lord and make it very clear of His will and plan, for us to find the best lifestyle we can ever experience.

It teaches us in Proverbs 16:3, 3Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

The word “establish” is properly interpreted as “to make it firm, stable, set up, or fixed” as compared to shaky and doubtful. “To commit, entrust or present to the Lord” whatever we do is “to ask His help and wait for affirmation.”

Isaac settled in one place once he heard God’s affirmation.

Isaac did not hear from God during the famine. It was necessary for him to go to Gerar to find food for his household, and God let him relocated.

But when the Philistines were hostile to him, Isaac may have planned to go to Egypt but God warned him not to go to Egypt. When Isaac decided to settle in Beersheba, God did not prevent him, so he pitched his tent and settle there.

Don’t pretend that you are satisfied with your situation if you are not.

Ask the Lord and know how and where He wants you to testify about Christ.

If you are still searching for contentment in life, settle where you experience more of God’s presence and grace for you to have practical proof of His grace.

Our immediate concern is this: God has called us to testify but where—in this city, somewhere in Canada, or beyond the borders of Canada?

As we celebrate the Lord Supper, we remember the Lord’s promise of His return to take us to His heaven. But, while we are waiting for His coming again, keep in mind, that, we are mandated to proclaim His death and resurrection.

<‘)))>< ltsii/2018 ><(((‘>


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