Expect Blessing

Genesis 26:1-6

Introduction

The word ‘bless’ is mentioned more or less 400 times in the Bible. Can we interpret it that we can expect at least one blessing from God each day? Do you receive blessing each time you obey the Lord? Safety, good health, provisions, favorable situations are things that we normally consider as blessing.

To be blessed is to have supreme happiness in totality. Blessing does not mean absence of problems or difficulties. The best blessings we can have are actually hidden behind difficult circumstances. Consider the challenge of locating precious stones! Blessing might be hidden behind your struggle at this moment.

Let’s learn from Isaac’s personal experiences of expecting blessing amidst of severe famine or lack of food. Isaac had abundant food supply while his father Abraham was still alive. He inherited everything that Abraham had accumulated, and he also had servants serving him. And then, his faith in God was tested.

1Now there was a famine in the land—besides the previous famine in Abraham’s time—and Isaac went to Abimelek king of the Philistines in Gerar. 

When Abraham came to Canaan, his faith was first tested with famine. There’s hunger. Isaac’s first major testing of his faith in God was also famine.

Material needs or lack of food has been God’s instrument to test faith even in this generation. If we trust God for our eternal life, can we trust Him that He will provide for our practical needs or for things we need to testify of His goodness?

It was not mentioned if Isaac prayed before he decided to leave Beer Lahai Roi and relocate to Gerar. Isaac went to King Abimelek. Perhaps, he asked for help or advice. Previously, Abraham and King Abimelek had peace pact, and they may have invited each other during special occasions.

Isaac may have been acquainted to King Abimelek personally. Remember that Abimelek was attracted to Sarah and tried to take her as his wife. He may have heard that Sarah gave birth to Isaac. Because of that, Isaac had confidence in seeking help from King Abimelek, but God cautioned him not to go to Egypt.

1. Caution

2 The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. 3a Stay in this land for a while… 

God let Isaac to relocate his residence in Gerar but why did God warn him not to go down south to Egypt? Why did God caution him to stay in Gerar for a while? Did Isaac contemplate of moving to Egypt? Did Isaac observe that traders from Gerar had business transactions with Egyptians?

Did Isaac observe Egyptian merchants selling merchandize in Gerar?

Or, did Isaac observe that people in Gerar were not very friendly?

Later, after Isaac decided to stay in Gerar, he lied about his marital relationship with his wife because he was scared that they might kill him because of her.

There were many difficult circumstances that may have caused Isaac to move to Egypt. God may have also given him understanding that going to Egypt does not guarantee better situation than what he experienced in Beer Lahai Roi or Gerar. By faith, he stayed in Gerar just as God had cautioned him.

Elijah

Prophet Elijah predicted that there will be no rain for 3 years, and it happened just as he prophesied it. For 3 years without rain, there was no farming. There’s shortage of food both for humans and animals in Israel.

Yet, in such difficult situation, Elijah experienced God’s provision.

It says in 1 Kings 17:2-6, 2 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah:  3“Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan.  4You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.” 5So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. 6The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.

That dramatic experience of Elijah may not be repeated again but it teaches us that difficult situations are moments when God tests the level of our faith in Him. Elijah obeyed the Lord and stayed at the place God intended to supply his needs. What does it teach us about practical and spiritual life?

Does God designate where He provides? It’s commonly observed that when things are not great at places of employment, employees would search employment somewhere else. When things are not great in the church, churchgoers would go to another church. Moving to another place does not guarantee better situation unless God has ordained that one should move on.

Storms of life, difficulties or problems could confuse believers so that they may seek refuge somewhere else. When there was famine in the time of Isaac, he might have been confused, too. Yet, he listened and obeyed when God cautioned him not to go to Egypt but stay in Gerar where God want him to stay.

Problems or difficulties that Isaac had in Gerar were not mentioned, why? Was it because God’s commitment to bless him was more important?

2. Commitment

3bI will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham.I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed…

God promised Isaac to be with him and to bless him if he would stay where he was at that time. Not just a commitment to bless him but God promised also to give Isaac and his descendants the land that He previously promised to his father Abraham. The same promise that God gave to Abraham, He gave to Isaac.

Although Isaac did not see that fulfillment of God promise for him to take over the Land of Canaan, Isaac lived peacefully in Canaan all his life. He stayed and not left Canaan until he died. His life was not as dramatic as the life of his father Abraham but similarly, he experienced God’s gracious provision all his life.

Abundance or scarcity of material needs do not dictate us to live righteous lifestyle. By faith in Christ, we can live a righteous lifestyle that God wants us to have. Christ came for believers to live life to its fullness. Righteous lifestyle is life to its fullness which happens only when we allow Christ be the Lord of our life.

It says in 2 Peter 1:2-4, 2Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.  3His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

What did it say? Abundance of grace and peace come hand and hand as we grow in our knowledge of God and of Jesus as Lord. When we allow Christ to perform His Lordship over our life, subsequently, we’ve more grace and peace.

Living a godly life is our goal. Godly life is proof of God’s grace. As we grow in our knowledge of His calling for us, we also ignore destructive worldly lifestyle. Living a righteous lifestyle is our personal proof that we share in God’s divine nature as we testify how Christ changed us from worldly to godly people.

Godly lifestyle is never easy task. Many believers update their social media accounts with things that are considered worldly lifestyle. Why would believers can’t help but compete in promoting worldly standards and lifestyle?

Paul reminds us in Galatians 5:16-17, 16So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.

We need to evaluate ourselves regularly, for us to be aware of our spiritual status. It’s easy to say but it’s not readily carried out. Why? To be aware or to be mindful of our spiritual status is simply a practice of faith. It is the work of Christ’s Spirit in our life to be concerned of our spiritual progress. Just as worldliness is associated with the world, we can’t separate spiritual lifestyle with the Holy Spirit.

The Lord Jesus declared in Matthew 16:25, 25For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

We heard, memorized and recite this declaration of Christ but we cannot easily put it into practice, why? To believe and obey Christ’s instructions proves that we practice faith in Him. By faith, we trust that Christ’s purpose for us is to bless us. By faith, we trust His declaration to be true and accurate.

King Solomon had experienced all the luxuries a person can have in this world but he has proven and teaches us in Ecclesiastes 5:19, 19When God  gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God.

If you’re enjoying your job, or your properties, it’s God’s gift. Wealth cannot make us happy. You want proof? Most luxury cars owners are angry drivers!

Blessed or happy life does not depend upon abundance of wealth. It is the gift of God. Although, to have more is better than to be short in everything, but to enjoy what we have, much or less, we still need God’s blessing.

Lava

In split moment, material abundance can turn into nightmare or horrible situation. Have you ever dreamt of living in Hawaii? If you were aware of it, you may have read or heard that an entire neighborhood in Hawaii was destroyed. It was covered with lava and molten rocks. And recently, a tourist destination in Guatemala was also totally destroyed when a volcano erupted.

Those horrible circumstances are reminders that we just cannot rely upon material things to enjoy our life. Whatever situation we are in, God may allow material abundance, but we have to depend upon Him always to enjoy life.

Isaac had abundance in many things but during famine, it proved his faith in God when he stayed in Gerar instead of going to Egypt for supplies. He trusted God’s commitment to bless him. When the Lord promised to bless Isaac, God took into consideration the obedience of Abraham. Why? Let’s find out!

3. Consideration

      5because Abraham obeyed me and did everything I required of him, keeping my commands, my decrees and my instructions.” 6 So Isaac stayed in Gerar.

When the term “because” is used, it requires reasons. God promised to bless Isaac and his descendants, and He also mentioned Abraham’s obedience as the reason of giving blessings to Isaac. Why? Was Isaac’s obedience not enough for the Lord to bless him?

God has proven that Isaac trusted Him when Isaac stayed where God told him to live. When God mentioned the obedience of Abraham, He was teaching Isaac to imitate Abraham’s lifestyle. Abraham obeyed God by doing what God required of him and keeping His commands, decrees and instructions.

So, God blessed Isaac just as He blessed Abraham because Isaac obeyed God in the manner his father Abraham obeyed God. Faith in God is best expressed in our obedience to God’s commands, decrees, and instructions.

When things seem wrong, when circumstances are unpleasant, we need to seek God’s guidance to understand why He allows difficulties to happen.

Our tendency when we have problems is to solve it right away. Our instinct is: “I should do this. I should do that!” We don’t readily ponder about God’s plan.

Jesus Arrested

On the night Jesus was arrested, it says in Matthew 26:50-54, 50Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

52“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

The Lord Jesus said that He can easily call angels to fight for His right.

The disciple reacted instinctively and tried to save the Savior. Instead of praising the disciple who tried to defend Him, Jesus used that moment to teach that unpleasant circumstances are also part of His plan to accomplish His purposes.

Normally, we don’t consider the totality of God’s plan in the midst of problems. It’s by faith we trust everything, pleasant or unpleasant situations that God allows, He uses it for the good of those who love Him.

It reminds us in Romans 8:28, 28In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

What is God’s purpose of calling us into His kingdom and let us live on earth for the time being? Why does God not bring us to heaven now?

Personally, God wants to learn and practice obedience the way His Son Jesus Christ obeyed Him even unto His death on the cross. Obedience to God progresses according to our spiritual growth.

As we grow in our faith, we also grow in our obedience to God.

As we grow in our obedience to the Lord, we earn more eternal treasures.

While earning eternal treasures, we testify. Our lifestyle becomes exhibits or proofs of His grace and what it means to be citizens of heaven.

By faith, we trust that God’s plan is for our betterment which may include pleasant and unpleasant situations. This is why God allows difficulties to test our faith for us to be aware of our spiritual status. Make it your ambition to grow in your faith in God. No matter what circumstances you are in, trust God.

<‘)))>< ltsii/2018 ><(((‘>

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