Thirsty Thursday: Post 8

This week, I’ve had a lot of momentum to write. Perhaps it’s the excitement of the new site, or maybe it’s because the Spirit’s moving that much inside of me. Oh how I hope pray that it’s the latter.

I’m here again with a thirsty thursday post. Last week we discussed the name changes of Abram and Sarai. We know them better as Abraham and Sarah because of what we discussed in this post.

This week we are going to go through the first half of chapter 18. The second half is the start to another story, so we’ll cover that and another chapter or two next time.

The first thing we read is about the Lord appearing to Abraham in the form of three visitors. As far as I can tell the only way that we know it’s the Lord is because we are told that it is. My first thought was…”how in the world does Abraham instinctively know who it is coming to him.”

As soon as he reaches the guests, he asks them to join him for a meal. Abraham’s primary reaction wasn’t what can I do for you, what chore are you on, or even what am I supposed to do. His reaction was to be a host, to do to them better than what he would want done for himself.

During the meal preparation, the men begin to ask Abraham about his wife, Sarah. It is then that they tell Abraham that Sarah will have a child come a year from then. Little did Abraham know, Sarah was right outside the door and heard the whole thing.

Sarah’s reaction? Laughter, she found it comical. I mean, wouldn’t you? To be nearly one hundred and to be told that you are going to have a child. I know I’d have a hard time stifling the laugh as well. When Sarah was asked why she laughed, she denied it. She should have known that these guests were Bigger than she. Yet something did not click in her mind. So she  did the only thing she knew to do, she lied.

All the guests said to was, “yes you did laugh.” Then they left it at that. Letting the course of events over the next year do all the talking.

Those are the events we’ll discuss next week.

How about you? If you were in Sarah’s spot, what would your reaction had been?

Thirsty Thursday: Post 7

So…I’ve decided that I cannot start these with week __. Primarily because I rarely have the time to actually write them every week. So I’m going to call them post __ and try my hardest to write one each week, but not repeatedly kick myself over not posting it.

Today, we’re going to discover God’s plan to redeem his people. Since the original plan didn’t work out, we knew that He had to have another plan. So let’s take a look at Genesis 17 and see what God wants to reveal to us today.

Chapter 17 starts with God appearing to Abram. God immediately give him a command. He said to Abram,

“Walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.” (Vs 1-2)

Notice God doesn’t say try to be blameless, he just says do it. Those two words are probably most hated in our society. We always want to ask the whys, the hows, the is it possibles? We often fail to realize that when we’re told to do it, it means simply that. Do. If we are faithful to follow, He is faithful and will uphold His end of it.

Abram knows well enough that when God speaks, you react. Abram chose to fall down in reverence to God. It was at this point that God takes the opportunity to change Abram’s name…Sarai’s too.

Abram is defined as exalted father. His new name Abraham means father of many. God explains to Abraham that his new name will be fully lived up to. Now, at the age of 99, Abram found himself laughing at the thought. I mean, really, would your reaction be any different?

He was also informed that his wife’s name would no longer be Sarai. Her name would then be Sarah. For she would be the mother of nations.

These new names were to serve as a personal symbol of God’s promise to make them parents of a great nation, the parents of all mankind from then forward. The external/visible sign was to be circumcision.

Verse 23 shows Abraham’s immediate response. The very SAME day he took all the males in his household and had them circumcised–including himself. I can feel all the men reading this wince simultaneously.

While Abraham still had his doubts about the idea of having a child at his age, his faith in God to keep his promises was strong enough that it compelled him into action when God made a request.

The challenge for us in all of this is to show similar faith as Abraham does here. Even if the call doesn’t make sense to us, we should find our faith and trust in God strong enough that we take the step anyway.

How about you? What would faith like Abraham’s look like in your life? Are you willing to put that faith into action? If not, what might be stopping you, would you share that we might pray with you?

It’s BACK! Thirsty Thursday Week 6

Hello friends! It’s that time again. I am SOOO excited to get back to Thirsty Thursdays. Today’s post will be shorter then the others, but it still has a lot of good stuff in it. I’m extremely excited that you’re joining me on this journey to allow God to quench the thirst we all have by getting to know Him more intimately through the stories composed in His word. (We’re still in Genesis).

When we left off last time we had discussed the original design that God had for us and the fall that quickly followed. Then we saw the direct consequence to the choice we made to stray from God in the story of Cain and Able. The same week I wrote that, my family got some news and this post was eerily accurate to the situation. After that was the story of the flood and God’s desired response from us. Week four was about our own strivings to “make a name for ourselves“. Then, right before my hiadus from my normally scheduled posts to participate in a little thing called Gab-fest, we left off with the very beginning of Abram‘s story. This is where I want to pick up.

Last time we discussed God’s covenant with Abram. So we find ourselves in Chapter 16. After waiting many, many years (literally a life-time in today’s world) for a child, Sarai began to get extremely impatient and decided to take matters into her own hands.

Enter Sarai’s maidservant Hagar. Since it seemed like all was hopeless for Sarai to have a child, she decided it was time for her to find a an alternative route. She gave her maidservant (after all maidservants were more like possessions than human beings during that time) to lay with her husband. Kind of like today’s surrogate mother.

Once Sarai learned of Hagar’s pregnancy, she became extremely jealous.So much so that Hagar felt it better to flee than to remain under the mistreatment she was suffering at the hand of her master, Sarai.

While in the midst of running, Hagar heard her Creator calling out to her. She, possibly for the first time, heard the voice of the One who’s heart broke for the pain she was feeling. He said to her:

“…[Hagar] where have you come from, and where are you going?”
Can you imagine hearing the sweetness, tenderness, concern and compassion in His voice
Keep in mind, God didn’t have to ask because He already knew. He asked to share His concern with her. As soon as she hears his question, she answers. After their conversation Hagar responds in gratefulness. Then she immediately obeys.
Have you felt the beckoning of your creator? It’s amazing isn’t it? If you haven’t heard it, can I encourage you ask Him to reveal himself to you? It may not happen quickly, it may not happen right where you are right now.
I want to encourage you to go to a quiet place. Put your heart through a check for anything that may be keeping you from hearing His voice. Cut out any all of the distractions from around you (yes this means music, phone, computer and TV). Then wait in expectation.
Not too sure about this whole God guy? Want some honest conversation on why I believe the way I do? Please feel free to ask. I want to encourage you to continue on this journey with me. He is sure to do great things. 

Thirsty Thursdays Week Five

At the very end of Genesis eleven, we are introduced to a man named Abram. Chapters twelve to twenty-five tell us the story of his life. This is the first in depth story of someone’s life so far. 

So, lets begin to dive into the story of Abram. Don’t worry, we’re not going to try to cover Abram’s entire life in this one post. That would be an injustice into God’s work. There wouldn’t be enough room within the entirety of the world wide web to do God’s work justice.

Anyway, on to Abram. As we begin to read his story, the first thing we encounter is a blessing. Not just any blessing, but the promise that the ENTIRE human race, both then and now, would be blessed because of him. Can you feel the pressure? I sure can.

Now our thirst as a Christian is typically to have it be said of us as it was of Abram:

“Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Galatians 3:6 

The real question we typically ask is, “how can I be like Abraham?” Our hearts desire, our thirst, out of our life is to glorify God in all we do. Or, rather, that should be our goal in life.

So, how do we begin to quench our thirst for that deep, abiding relationship with God that Abram had? Let’s look into the steps we can take. 

After the blessing, Abram begins his journey. Twice in the first eleven verses we see Abram’s first display of dedication, the practice of building an altar to God. The first time was after God appeared to him. The second was when he pitched his tent to begin settling in.

So what can we take away from his example? It’s simple. We need to begin the discipline of building altars to glorify God in our own lives. How do we do that? What does an altar look like in today’s society?

An alter is defined to be an elevated place or structure, as a mound or platform, at which religious rites are performed or on which sacrifices areoffered to gods, ancestors, etc. I know altars aren’t used in today’s culture like they did in Abram’s time. That doesn’t mean that we can’t, or shouldn’t, apply this to our lives in order to quench our ever present thirst for God.

An altar in today’s world could be as simple as the space in which we have our quiet time with God. It could also be the place He knocks us to our knees. It could also be our reaction to a big event in our life, or even our reaction to something new in our life.

Often times, when we look around, our altars are every where. Many days, we are either too distracted, or too blind to recognize them. Maybe we need to take some time to sit down and look over our life and see what altars we can sacrifice our own priorities on.

What do your alters look like in your life? What can you do to build an altar in your life?

Thirsty Thursday Week Four

Have you ever wanted to make yourself known so badly that you would do absolutely anything? I know that I have. It could be absolutely anything from results to a test that you’d so anxiously been waiting for, to a phase of life that you’ve been waiting for to begin, or even a material object that you’ve been longing for.

Genesis chapter eleven starts off with the all too familiar story of the tower of Babel. If you’ve been in a church for any length of time, chances are you’ve probably heard the story at least referenced. If not, then please read it here.

Most hear this story told that humans decided to build the tower because they wanted constant communion with God. That, however, isn’t the way I read it. Verse four states that we wanted to build the tower to “…make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the earth.” Little did they know that their plan would backfire.

In attempt to remain on nation and to make a name for ourselves we caused the very thing we were trying to prevent. Division, separation and confusion. How often does this happen in today’s world? Far too often, if we’re honest.

How often do we work our tails off for a promotion, for it only to be given to someone else? Or worse, we end up being let go from the company? How about putting as much heart as possible into a piece of yourself  (art, writing, ect.) only to have it thrown in your face, degraded or even rejected? Then there’s also putting your all and working hard at a relationship to have it crumble.

Can you envision your life’s work being destroyed? Your life’s work coming back around to do the opposite of what you wanted to happen? I’m in one of those phases right now, if I’m honest.

Most of my life I have felt the pull to work with the special needs. Now that I am doing so, I’m not too sure that I am where I’m supposed to be. I’m not sure sure that this is what I am supposed to be doing. I am feeling God saying that it’s supposed to look differently.

Like mankind in Genesis eleven, we are all built with a longing to be the next big name in whatever task we are undertaking. The world then wanted to build the highest tower possible, one all the way to heaven. In today’s world the objective is to become the person with the most toys or the biggest bank account.

This isn’t the way it should be, is it? There shouldn’t be this thirst for the biggest bank account, the most well known name, or even the thirst for more. Our thirst should be for the things that please our heavenly Father.

Is our desire for the American Dream or for our Father’s dream? Is our primary goal to build earthly wealth or heavenly wealth? Are our priorities focused on things we desire? Or are they focused on what He would have for us?

For me, as much as I wish I could honestly answer each of these questions with the latter, I am not able to. Sure, I could convince people that it’s true. Build up a good “godly” name in the eyes of everyone around me, but it would be a false mask.

Living a life for God isn’t about being perfect. It’s about being imperfect, admitting to it and striving to become perfect in Him. After all, His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

Honestly answer these to yourself: has my life been about making my name great or about pointing others to the greatness of our God? Is my thirst to become known because of my own works or is my thirst to bring glory to my Creator?

I want to encourage and challenge us to ask each of these questions to challenge our motives often. By doing so, we may find that our priorities change and our focus shifts from our plans to God’s plan. After all, we were initially created to do His will, not our own.

Let us go about our days looking to glorify Him rather then ourselves. Let us examine our hearts and realign our thirsts, longings, and desires with His. I challenge us to see every situation in a new light, as a way to show someone God. Let us not be like the people in this story, if we desire to build something, let it be the kingdom of God rather than our own kingdom.

Thirsty Thursdays—Week Three

As I read over the story of the flood this week, One thing jumped out at me. The story of the flood isn’t about a thirst we have, it’s all about a thirst our Creator has. So this week’s post is going to look a little different then the past few weeks. Instead of focusing on our thirst, I am going to be focusing on God’s thirst.

 Wait, you mean…God thirsts? How is that possible? God has no needs, so how could He thirst for anything? I know it sounds strange, trust me. The argument, however, can be made that we were created because He had a thirst. God desired to have a companion on earth, and because he couldn’t find a proper companion in any of the creations He had made, He decided to make us. He made humans out of a thirst for companionship.

That being the case, God created us for companionship. How did we repay Him for giving us life? By doing what man kind has done best since the fall, we rebel. We turn away from Him, forgetting all He gave us, and go off and do our own thing.

We can only imagine how painful it was for him to sit in Heaven and watch His creation, the fruit of His work, rebel against Him. Not only did we rebel once, but thousands of times. Again, I know the argument can be made that He knew when He made us that we were going to fall to Satan’s schemes. While this is a very true, very real point, we cannot overlook the fact that He chose to make us despite knowing we were going to fall. He still desired companionship, He wants it so bad that he was willing to create us knowing we would turn away. Now, if that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.

After just a few generations, the rebellion got so bad that God acknowledged that His immortal spirit and human’s mortal spirit would not live together in harmony very well, if at all. Due to this, God decided to limit the years of His creation. Can you imagine having to limit the number of days your own child would live because of it’s sinful nature? I know I couldn’t, and I’ll bet this decision wasn’t an easy one for God to make either.

After this God saw exactly how evil human nature was and He regretted His decision to create us. This regret was so great that it lead him to wipe the face of the earth, killing every living thing He had created just a short while before this. Almost as though God was giving Him a fresh start. A do over with life on earth.

Sounds brutal, doesn’t it? Not like the God we know, or the God we envision. This is where His all surpassing grace enters the story. God has decided to wipe out His creation, He decides this because of the ache in His heart caused by humans. This is when God remembers His faithful servant. God remembers Noah, a faithful, God-fearing man. God then decides that Noah and his family are the only humans who will have the privilege of being saved from the ultimate destruction.

God delighted in Noah because he continued to seek God’s heart despite what everyone around him was doing. Noah was, as far as we can tell, the most consistent human quenching God’s thirst for companionship. For this reason, God decided to show his mercy on mankind and give them a new start as well. All through this man named Noah.

Noah followed God’s requests to a T, he cut no corners, nor did he try to use it for his own benefit. He built the ark exactly as specified, he loaded the animals as God instructed, and he waited, trusting God’s word would come to completion. He did so without argument.

What does this mean for us? For me, this story serves as a reminder. To remind us that God is faithful to those who are faithful to Him. It also tells me that He never forgets those who love, trust and rely on Him and only Him.

Does God still desire companionship? Absolutely. Now more than ever, I believe. In this age, wehre there are SO many options for people, I believe He is waiting anxiously for people. Displaying His love to them, to show He still cares, He still longs for them, He thirsts for even an ounce of their attention. However, due to his unfailing mercy, He’ll sit and wait because He wants it to be our choice, His ultimate desire is for us to willingly love Him. After all, love that is forced, is not love at all.

What if we’re never asked to do anything like this? My honest answer and opinion…so what? Just because He doesn’t call you into something like this, He has still called you. He has called each and every one of us to be His and serve Him with our whole heart. We are called to thirst for His love as much as He thirsts for us to follow Him. That calling, for me anyway, is far better than any world changing task because His calling me did change something. It changed my world and that’s enough for me.

So what about you? What does this story mean for you? When you read the story of the flood, what connections can be made from it to your own life? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thirsty Thursday — week 2

Last week I talked about Adam and Eve’s thirst for what they couldn’t have, if you missed it, catch up with us here. This week I’m going to be talking about their sons.

“…on Cain and his offering He [God] did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry and his face was downcast.” Genesis 4:5

Nothing drives someone more than jealousy. Whether it’s the good ‘ole and all too familiar sibling rivalry, or something else. In almost every family you’ll find some kind of jealousy: child-child, parent-parent, child-parent, or even parent-child. Whether it’s the out-going, active, sports enthusiast child against the intellectual, band geek, or if it’s the slacker against the suck up. If you’re in a family chances are that you’ve experienced such rivalry.

What exactly drives one to feel the need to compete with others? Is it our own selfish desire for attention? Or what about the thirst for attention? Or could it be both? I think so.

If you’ve ever read the story of Cain and Able, you’ve heard the first-ever recorded instant in which sibling rivalry took place. You’ve read about the first time jealousy overwhelmed someone to the point of hurting another person. If you haven’t read it, I’d encourage you to do so, you can read it here. After reading this passage, think about it, what would you had done if you would have been in Cain’s shoes?

Cain takes his fleshly thirst for favor and acceptance into his own hands. I can see him thinking, or perhaps even saying, “I’l show that goody-too-shoes brother of mine what happens when you cross your brother like that…” Jealousy so deep that it leads to anger. Anger so great that it leads to rage. Rage that became so overwhelming that he gave into his urge to “take care” of his problem.

But why? Why doesn’t Cain just use this as a chance to get better? To put his entire heart into it next time? Why doesn’t Cain just walk away and give himself time to cool off? It doesn’t seem like it would be so hard. My guess is that this was a reqeated scenerio. That this situation was the one that pushed Cain over the edge.

So, do you have a relationship that brings about a jealousy or rivalry that leads you to war with that person? Boy, I have. Not only do I have just one sibling, I have four. Three of which are sisters. My ENTIRE life has been spent comparing my actions/possessions/accomplishments against theirs. If it wasn’t comparing our lives it was warring over which was better, who was the better child, who deserved this or that more.

How about with your brothers and sisters in Christ? Have you ever found yourself competing, fighting, and begging for God’s favor over someone you feel is a threat in your spiritual life? If I’m guilty of this offense too.

So What can we do? How can we keep ourselves from repeating Cain’s mistake of allowing his thirst of favor to prevent us from allowing our jealousy to over come us in the way his did? How can we decide to allow these differences to shape us rather than drive us?

My idea would be to begin my praying and thanking God for that challenging relationship. Thank Him for our differences and ask Him to help us see what we can learn from them, rather than trying to one up their actions. Secondly, instead of looking for ways that we don’t measure up to others, why not look for our own God-given strengths and gifts and start to use them? Lastly, find a friend to confide in, or even a journal and the days you’re feeling like you’re slipping down the slippery slope, write, write your heart out and write out a prayer about it too. You’d be amazed at how much this helps.

I know, I know. Some of you may be thinking, “but Amy, I wouldn’t ever dream of killing so and so…” This may be true but don’t forget in Matthew we are told that if we pass judgement, or ridicule on one of our siblings, biological or spiritual, then we are just as guilty as Cain.

So this week, rather than doing things to earn favor or one up those around us in efforts to earn God’s attention and approval, why don’t we try to love those siblings that it’s oh so easy to despise. Why do this? The better question is probably why not do this? If we do this we are extending the same love and grace the God extends to us everyday. Then, maybe our little piece of the world will be just a little sweeter.

Blessings, love and grace over this next week!