No Problem

Genesis 25:1-11

1 Abraham had taken another wife, whose name was Keturah. 2 She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian,Ishbak and Shuah. 3 Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan; the descendants of Dedan were the Ashurites, the Letushites and the Leummites. 4 The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanok, Abida and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah.

5 Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. 6 But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east. 7 Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years.

8 Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people. 9 His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, 10 the field Abraham had bought from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah. 11 After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi.

Favorite Movie

What is your favorite movie or TV show? You can say that it’s your favorite show if you want to repeat watching that video again and again, and you also want to tell others about it or wish they watch it. Why was it that you like that movie? Does it inspire you? Do you wish to learn from it?

You watch videos for entertainment purposes or learning opportunities.

A great movie has some kind of problem, controversy, or concern that the main character has to overcome or find solution. Have you ever watched a movie that portrays the main characters with problem-free-kind-of-life?

Just imagine your favorite sports team keeps on winning games all the time. But if your favorite team is on the brink of elimination, and then suddenly, they found a new strategy to win games, and eventually become champion, you will love to watch every game. Problems make life more interesting.

After he survived the ultimate test of his faith, the latter part of Abraham’s life was not dramatic. Abraham’s faith in God had grown strong that God did not bother to test again. Abraham had overcome all his problems by God’s grace. The ultimate testing of his faith was when God told him to sacrifice Isaac.

When he sent his servant to find a wife for Isaac, Abraham’s faith was already stable. He trusted God to guide his servant. It was not written if he had problems with Keturah and her children. Children are fruitfulness to Hebrews.

1. Fruitfulness

1 Abraham had taken another wife, whose name was Keturah. 2 She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian,Ishbak and Shuah. 3 Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan; the descendants of Dedan were the Ashurites, the Letushites and the Leummites. 4 The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanok, Abida and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah.

After Isaac married Rebekah, they lived in Beer Lahai Roi (80 kms from Abraham). Abraham may have felt lonely and married Keturah. The name Keturah denotes perfume. Abraham may have been attracted by the perfume of Keturah. The Hebrew root word for ‘Keturah’ is ‘Qatar’ which means incense.

It’s possible that Keturah and her children went as far as the modern day Qatar. Their descendants spread throughout Arabia after Abraham sent them away to the land of the east. Sheba is the modern day Yemen.

Rebekah did not give birth until Isaac was 60-years-old. They were married for 20-years, and Abraham can’t wait to see his grandchildren. Perhaps, when Abraham married Keturah, it prompted Isaac to pray hard for Rebekah. And when Rebekah gave birth to their twins Esau and Jacob—that might have signaled Abraham and sent the children of his concubines away.

Did God ordain it for Abraham to marry Keturah? It was not mentioned but it’s open to interpretation. What God allowed to be written in the Bible are things that can be helpful to growth of our faith of Him. Indeed, God blessed Abraham to be fruitful. What can we learn from Abraham’s fruitfulness? God wants us fruitful.

No Fruit

It stated in Matthew 21:18-19, 18 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.

Our Creator wants us to be fruitful. Blessing from God produces fruit. As Christ’s disciples, we are expected to make disciples. Disciples are the fruit of disciples. Making disciples is the practical proof of the empowerment of Christ. Keep asking God for empowerment until making disciples become a lifestyle.

Jesus teaches in Luke 3:8-9, 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Before we can receive the gift of eternal life, we need to repent of our sin. Repentance testifies that we acknowledge the need of Savior. Christ implies that fruitfulness determines the measure of sincerity of our repentance.

Fruitfulness or having disciples makes us more certain that we are Christ’s disciples. It adds to our testimony that the Spirit of Christ prevails in us. To be very sure that Christ’s Spirit lives in us is to be sure that we received eternal life. And when Christ’s Spirit is active in our life, we also experience fullness of life.

2. Fullness

5Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. 6But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east. 7Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years.

Experts advise to have a written ‘Last Will and Testament.’ Normally, ‘Last Will and Testament’ is executed after the death of one who made. For Abraham, he arranged everything and executed them even while he was still alive. He made it sure that Isaac remained in the Promise Land while the rest of his children move eastward away from where Isaac lived.

Abraham lived until he was 175 years old, and His wife Sarah died when she was 127-years old. Therefore, Sarah cherished her son Isaac for 37 years. Isaac married Rebekah when he was 40-years old, that’s 3-years after his mother’s death. Abraham was 140 years old when Isaac married Rebekah.

Rebekah gave birth to twins Esau and Jacob when Isaac was 60, about 20 years after their marriage. Abraham was already 160 years old when Esau and Jacob his grandchildren were born. He observed them grow for 15 years before he died. God blessed Abraham and he was indeed fruitful.

After his wife Sarah died, Abraham did not choose to be inactive or idle. He did not travel here and there to see the world.  He got married and had other children. He took care of them until they were strong before he sent them away.

Many among us look forward to retirement when they grow old. Why?

Some want to stop working from the job they hated but forced to earn to pay their bills. Some retire because they cannot perform physically or mentally. Some were forced to retire because the management wants the next generation manpower or new innovation. Still some want to retire to have holidays on any given day. Others want to retire because they want to become the boss of their selves and so, they can choose to do things the way they want it done.

One thing for sure that does not need retirement is our service to God.

The more we grow old, the more we grow nearer to the grave and hope to be with God, and the more we want to earn our treasures in heaven. Our question:

How would you like to be remembered, when it’s time to meet your Savior?

The Book of Revelation mentioned two contrasting churches—Philadelphia and Laodicea. The Lord said the church of Philadelphia in Revelation 3:8-10, 8I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 10Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.

Enduring patiently is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our life. It’s not human strength. In contrast, the Lord said the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:15-19,

15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 

God loves us. He wants the best for us. He warns us of consequences if we ignore His instructions. He wants to build our character and be like Christ.

The last 35 years in the life of Abraham may not be a problem-free kind of life but for sure his actions were in accordance to his faith in God. His life ended but his story continued. God’s blessing to him did not finish at his death.

3. Finish

8 Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people. 9 His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, 10 the field Abraham had bought from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah. 11 After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi.

God’s blessing to Isaac was the aftereffect of Abraham’s obedience to God. The fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham was not finish after his death. It continued to the next generation, even after the death of his son Isaac.

Ishmael was present during the burial of Abraham. Ishmael lived some hundreds of miles south from where Isaac lived. The servants might search him when Abraham was nearing death. Ishmael and Isaac buried their father but Keturah’s children were not mentioned. They may have traveled far to the land eastward, and Abraham’s servant may not have bothered to find them.

Abraham’s life is described to have full of years not because he lived long years but because God blessed him in everything. God’s blessing is gladness. Abraham gave all his wealth to Isaac but God blessed Isaac also. Abraham’s life exemplifies how we may experience blessed life as we grow in our faith like his.

It says in Hebrews 11:8, 8By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

Abraham received his blessing from God after he obeyed God not before. God’s commands are instructions for us to receive His blessing. To receive His blessing, we have to obey God. Obedience proves that we have faith in Him. Blessing received is God’s way to say that He approves our obedience.

In Hebrews 11:17-19, 17By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

Faith in God helps us understand that it is right and proper to obey Him. The reason we hesitate to obey God is because we have not received enough faith to trust that His commands are favorable to us. God doesn’t force us to obey Him. He desires willingness. Keep asking God to give you faith to obey Him.

For sure, all of us wish to have a blessed life. A blessed life is not without problem. One can be blessed but still have problems in this earth. God allows problems not to prevent us from trusting Him but to measure the development or growth of our faith in Christ. We can learn from Abraham on how to practice faith.

The latter part of the life of Abraham did no t mention about Abraham’s problems. For sure, he had problems when he sent away the children of his concubines. It was not because he did not care for them. It was because he was not controlled by problems. He trusted that his decisions were pleasant to God.

After he sacrificed Isaac it says in Genesis 15:18, 18On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land…”

Abraham interpreted that the descendants of his son Isaac were the main recipients or heirs of the Promised Land. He did not worry what life his wife Keturah and her children had after he sent them away. He believed that God will take care of them just as God took care of Ishmael.

The Lord said in Genesis 21:12-13, 12But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. 13I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”

Indeed God made Ishmael into many nations. Abraham understood that God blessed him including all who were precious to him. So, he believed that if God took care of Ishmael, God will take care of the children of Keturah also.

So, Abraham did not hesitate to send away the children of his concubines. Such precedent made Abraham to expect God to bless Isaac and not to worry what life Isaac would have after he has gone. He may have also remembered that if God saved Isaac when he offered him as sacrifice, God would also save Isaac from any trouble of life that he may encounter.

Apostle Paul testifies in Philippians 3:12-14, 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Winnipeg Jets

There was a group talking about the game of Winnipeg Jets. Then someone said, “So, what happened? Did the Jets win?” The person who started the conversation about the game said, “Of all people, you are left behind!” He expected that Winnipeggers are all curious about the game.

Have you watched the games of Winnipeg Jets? Have you enjoyed it!

Who do you think would be the champion? The team that the Jets defeated was supposed to be the best team in the league. That being said, the Jets have good chances to be the champion.

Personally, do you have any hope of winning the prize that Christ has prepared for His faithful servants? Don’t allow yourself to be left behind. Make sure you would receive your reward that the Lord has prepared for you. If there’s gladness of cheering for your favorite team when they win, how much gladness would you experience when you receive your reward from Christ?

The stronger faith you have, the more you would understand and desire to receive the crown and reward Christ has prepared for us. The more we practice our faith, our family and all who are precious to us would benefit from God’s blessings. God knows our gladness to see Him bless our love ones, right?

We can learn from Abraham. Abraham lived a lifestyle practicing his faith in the Lord that he did not worry about the children he sent away. He did not worry about the future of Isaac. He trusted that the blessing that God has promised him will not stop at his death. God’s blessing continues to the next generation of his descendants and that includes us believers.

It says in Ephesians 6:4, 4Parents, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Isaac’s life testified that he learned how to practice faith from his father Abraham. Abraham’s servant trusted that God gives him success in his journey because he saw how Abraham practiced his faith in the Lord.

Well, it does not guarantee that when we train our children, they would grow up the way we expect them to be. Many children of spiritual leaders, missionaries and pastors grow spiritually and exceptionally well but there are those who did not follow the footsteps of their parents. If we do our part as parents we would not be attacked by guilty feeling if ever things come to worst.

In conclusion, Abraham’s life was full of challenges. It was not a problem-free kind of life but he certainly enjoyed it because he trusted in the Lord. By faith in Christ, we are considered Abraham’s children. Expect God’s blessing as we keep practicing faith in Him.

It says in Galatians 3:14, 14He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is the guarantor that we share in the blessed life of Abraham. Keep asking God to be filled and empowered by the Spirit of Christ.

<‘)))>< ltsii/2018 ><(((‘>

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