One of the reasons why feminists don’t like the Bible is the early practices and traditions of the Old Testament. Men were the ruler of each home and many females born are glossed over unless Moses points out a specific accomplishment or error in judgement. However, when it comes to Rebekah, her family lets her decide when she wants to leave home. Essentially, Rebekah is asked, “what do you want to do?”
Then they ate and drank, he and the men who were with him, and stayed there all night. And in the morning they arose, and he said. Send me away to my master. 55 But [Rebekah’s] brother and mother said, Let the girl stay with us a few days—at least ten; then she may go. 56 But [the servant] said to them, Do not hinder and delay me, seeing that the Lord has caused me to go prosperously on my way. Send me away, that I may go to my master, Genesis 24:54-56.
One author of the Bible uses an analogy to address this topic in Revelation 3:20. Freewill is compared to a unique door by one of Jesus’ former disciples. God doesn’t have a doorknob on his side. Subsequently, God may try to get your attention in life, but only you can let Him in. If you treat faith like a feeling, there will be days when you want to invite God into what you’re doing. Yet, there will be plenty when you simply want to be left alone.
And they said, We will call the girl and ask her [what is] her desire. 58 So they called Rebekah and said to her, Will you go with this man? And she said, I will go. 59 So they sent away Rebekah their sister and her nurse [Deborah] and Abraham’s servant and his men, Genesis 24:57-59.
In the case of Rebekah, her mother and uncle wanted to spend a few days with her before beginning a new life with Isaac. Rebekah’s mom suggests spending time with her girlfriends as well before leaving with Eliezer. While this sounds like a reasonable request, Rebekah’s parents leave the final decision up to her. If you read Romans 12:1-2 and Proverbs 3:5-6, hopefully what you want to do coincides with God’s will for your life. May your wants coincide with God’s plan for your life.
1. An Unswerving Belief that Jesus is the Son of God.
Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in Me? What I am telling you I do not say on My own authority and of My own accord; but the Father Who lives continually in Me does the ([a]His) works (His own miracles, deeds of power). 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me; or else believe Me for the sake of the [very] works themselves. [If you cannot trust Me, at least let these works that I do in My Father’s name convince you.] 12 I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, if anyone steadfastly believes in Me, he will himself be able to do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these, because I go to the Father, John 14:10-12.
Whenever Christians give the devil a foothold, Ephesians 4:26-28, spiritual faith can be stolen as revealed in the Parable of the Sower, Matthew 13:19-23. Jesus explains that belief is preserved by planting yourself in the right environment. Psalm 1:1-3 compares this to water that gives life or as the apostle Paul states in Romans 10:17, faith comes from hearing, reflecting upon and studying the Word of God, the Bible.
2. Seizing the Moment to Provide for the Needy with the Expectation God Will Provide.
Now the day began to decline, and the Twelve came and said to Him, Dismiss the crowds and send them away, so that they may go to the neighboring hamlets and villages and the surrounding country and find lodging and get a [b]supply of provisions, for we are here in an uninhabited (barren, solitary) place. 13 But He said to them, You [yourselves] give them [food] to eat. They said, We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all this crowd, 14 For there were about 5,000 men. And [Jesus] said to His disciples, Have them [sit down] reclining in table groups (companies) of about fifty each. 15 And they did so, and made them all recline. 16 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven and [praising God] gave thanks and asked Him to bless them [to their use]. Then He broke them and gave them to the disciples to place before the multitude. 17 And all the people ate and were satisfied. And they gathered up what remained over—twelve [[c]small hand] baskets of broken pieces, Luke 9:12-17.
Time is one of the biggest obstacles to living a radical spiritual life. Time is used like a crutch, a common excuse to fall back on when you don’t feel like doing something spiritually. Jesus’ disciples fell into this trap in the passage above, but Jesus was there to direct them in the direction of the Holy Spirit. Willing servants seize each moment that the Lord provides with the expectation God will provide everything that you need, 2 Peter 1:3-4.
3.Following the Example and Model for Overcoming Temptation, 1 Corinthians 10:13.
Inasmuch then as we have a great High Priest Who has [already] ascended and passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [of faith in Him]. 15 For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning. 16 Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it], Hebrews 4:14-16.
The author of Hebrews reveals that Christians have someone who can sympathize with our weaknesses. If you study the Passion Week beginning in John 12, Jesus leans on His heavenly father in the Garden of Gethsemane. Mark 1:35-36 provides Jesus’ spiritual routine to start every day. Whenever Christians begin to follow the example and model set by Jesus to look for the way out of temptation, they are keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25.
4.Follow the Way of Righteousness, Matthew 6:33.
Who redeems your life from the pit and corruption, Who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercy; 5 Who satisfies your mouth [your necessity and desire at your personal age and situation] with good so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle’s [strong, overcoming, soaring]! 6 The Lord executes righteousness and justice [not for me only, but] for all who are oppressed. 7 He made known His ways [of righteousness and justice] to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel, Psalm 103:7.
The beginning of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount points to proper attitudes and motives that radical spiritual leaders adopt. The beatitudes set the tone for this famous speech which is reinforced in Matthew 6:33. As belief is solidified, and minds are convinced that God will provide, keeping in step with the Holy Spirit ushers in a radical spiritual life. The final step is merely your complete focus on hungering and thirsting for righteousness by discovering God’s will for your life, Romans 12:1-2.
When my son Daniel got engaged early this Spring, a sense of curiosity and excitement filled my heart. The curiosity was based upon where and when the wedding will take place. This was followed by the excitement of welcoming Anna into our family as well as looking forward to this special weekend in August. Unfortunately, most Christians don’t look at faith from the perspective of curiosity and excitement.
The girl related to her mother’s household what had happened. 29 Now Rebekah had a brother whose name was Laban, and Laban ran out to the man at the well, Genesis 24:28-29.
When Eliezer informed Rebekah’s family that he was searching for a spouse for his master’s son, a spirit of curiosity and excitement filled Rebekah’s house. Who is this Isaac? What does he look like? Where does he work and what does he like to do in his free time? These are just a few questions that family members ask before their relative gets married.
For when he saw the earring or nose ring, and the bracelets on his sister’s arms, and when he heard Rebekah his sister saying, The man said this to me, he went to the man and found him standing by the camels at the well. 31 He cried, Come in, you blessed of the Lord! Why do you stand outside? For I have made the house ready and have prepared a place for the camels, Genesis 24:30-31.
Rather than become curious and excitement for this upcoming weekend, what if Christians faced each day with a new mindset. Instead of going through the motions of a long work week, believers can start embracing each new day with an eager curiosity and passionate excitement. Perhaps, this is what Jesus meant to express in John 10:10. Living an abundant life that Jesus claims and promises to exist could become reality with a daily sense of curiosity and excitement.
Children tend to mimic their parents. As babies begin to talk, they will pick up certain words that they hear in songs, listen to in videos or repeat expressions overheard by eavesdropping. The language and words that you speak say something about what’s going on inside your heart and mind. If you don’t agree with me, look at Luke 6:43-45 to see Jesus’ teachings on where words are conceived.
And I said to my master, But suppose the woman will not follow me. 40 And he said to me, The Lord, in Whose presence I walk [habitually], will send His [e]Angel with you and prosper your way, and you will take a wife for my son from my kindred and from my father’s house, Genesis 24:39-40.
If anyone tracked your faith over the years on a flow chart, there will be plenty of highs and lows. The master in the above passage is Abraham who learned faith the hard way. However, near the end of his life, Abraham began to follow in the footsteps of Enoch, walking and talking with God daily. As Eliezer is sent by Abraham to find Isaac a wife, he describes his master as one who walks in the presence of the Lord.
Blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather. 2 But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night. 3 And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity], Psalm 1:1-3.
The Psalmist uses an analogy to highlight the blessings of walking in the presence of the Lord. In 1896 Reverend Charles Sheldon published In His Steps which went on to become a bestselling book. Sheldon is the first to record and verbalize the expression: What Would Jesus Do? If you want to learn how to walk in the Lord’s presence, this is the mindset you need to adopt. Meanwhile, when individuals begin to meditate upon and habitually study the Bible, you pick up direction, guidance and insights on walking in the Lord’s presence. As Jesus says at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, “put my words into practice.”
The lyrics of Should I Stay or Should I Go was written in 1981. However, this Clash hit song was released on a 45 record a year later with Should I Stay or Should I Go on Side A. Meanwhile, side B wasn’t as memorable: Straight to Hell. Co-founder of the Clash and co-writer of Should I Stay or Should I Go, Mick Jones was forced to leave this band in 1983. Subsequently, there is speculation that Mick may have been contemplating this for a while.
But [Rebekah’s] brother and mother said, Let the girl stay with us a few days—at least ten; then she may go. 56 But [the servant] said to them, Do not hinder and delay me, seeing that the Lord has caused me to go prosperously on my way. Send me away, that I may go to my master, Genesis 24:55-56.
From a spiritual perspective, one young woman of the Bible was forced to choose between her family or her future. Abraham is the first recorded father in the Bible to play an active role in selecting his son’s future wife. Abraham entrusted the manager of his estate, Eliezer, to fulfill this mission. After praying for God’s blessing on his search, Rebekah walks out toward him immediately following the conclusion of his prayer.
And they said, We will call the girl and ask her [what is] her desire. 58 So they called Rebekah and said to her, Will you go with this man? And she said, I will go, Genesis 24:57-58.
The context of today’s passage is just before a family feast. Eliezer shares his encounter with Rebekah as well as the events leading up to this God instance. After Rebekah’s family grants Eliezer’s requests for her to become Isaac’s husband, she must choose between her family and her future. Rather than deciding for her, Rebekah is asked to decide if she wants to stay a few days to be with her girlfriends or leave immediately. Rebekah chooses the future, eager to begin a new life with a man she’s never met of seen before. This is true faith.
Foreshadowing is a term my high school English teacher ingrained within my head. Whether our class was reading Canterbury Tales or Romeo and Juliet, she would always urge students to think about the foreshadowing of a scene. In the passage below, Moses points to the foreshadowing of Jesus, initially mentioned in Genesis 3:15 following original sin, Adam and Eve’s fall from grace in the Garden of Eden.
Then Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on [the shoulders of] Isaac his son, and he took the fire (the firepot) in his own hand, and a knife; and the two of them went on together. 7 And Isaac said to Abraham, My father! And he said, Here I am, my son. [Isaac] said, See, here are the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt sacrifice? – Genesis 22:6-7
As God puts Abraham’s faith to an unbelievable test, Bible scholars believe that the concept of a resurrection was conceived within Abraham’s mind. This is one of the few explanations that makes sense for a guy who had a tendency to rely on his own instincts rather than fully trust God. If this is true, Isaac’s hypothetical resurrection is a foreshadowing of Jesus coming back to life on Easter Sunday.
[Urged on] by faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went forth to a place which he was destined to receive as an inheritance; and he went, although he did not know or trouble his mind about where he was to go. 9 [Prompted] by faith he dwelt as a temporary resident in the land which was designated in the promise [of God, though he was like a stranger] in a strange country, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was [waiting expectantly and confidently] looking forward to the city which has fixed and firm foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God, Hebrews 11:8-10.
All Christian’s hope that their life will leave behind some sort of legacy, to inspire others to elevate and take their own faith to new heights. The author of Hebrews nominates Abraham for the Bible’s Hall of Faith in the passage above. God’s initial promise to Abraham while residing in the land of Uz is a foreshadowing of the birth of a great nation, Israel. However, even Abraham struggled to believe in this promise until Isaac was finally born. As you read and study the Bible, may the Holy Spirit open your eyes to other foreshadowing’s found in this book.
If you have ever struggled with confidence in your life, what was once comfortable and easy brings doubt to your mind. If confidence is the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something, doubt is like a cancer that can deteriorate and erode your faith in God and yourself. The more doubt creeps into your mind, James 1:6, reaching your full potential in life becomes less likely.
Then Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on [the shoulders of] Isaac his son, and he took the fire (the firepot) in his own hand, and a knife; and the two of them went on together. 7 And Isaac said to Abraham, My father! And he said, Here I am, my son. [Isaac] said, See, here are the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt sacrifice? 8 Abraham said, My son, [b]God Himself will provide a lamb for the burnt offering. So the two went on together, Genesis 22:6-8.
According to one of Jesus’ disciples, 1 Peter 1:6-7, faith is tested through fire in the form of hardships, failures and trials in life. Jesus’ earthly brother suggests that this life cycle is necessary to develop and mature, James 1:2-4. Michael W. Smith sings about this in his hit song, Live and Learn. The lyrics provide a brief summary from the Garden of Eden to Paul’s confession in Romans 7:15-18.
When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there; then he laid the wood in order and [c]bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar on the wood. 10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand and took hold of the knife to slay his son. 11 But the [d]Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, Abraham, Abraham! He answered, Here I am. 12 And He said, Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear and revere God, since you have not held back from Me or begrudged giving Me your son, your only son. 13 Then Abraham looked up and glanced around, and behold, behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up for a burnt offering and an ascending sacrifice instead of his son! – Genesis 22:9-13
Before you can reach a level of faith without a doubt, you have to learn from your past mistakes, 1 Corinthians 10:1-6. If you don’t learn from history, you’ll repeat the errors, mistakes and transgressions of your past. Overcoming addictions, bad habits and unwholesome cravings isn’t easy, Colossians 3:5-9. However, when God puts you into a difficult situation like Abraham, trusting God with all your heart, soul and mind opens the door to reaching a level of faith without a doubt.
I was a big fan of Bryan Adams growing up. When you consider that I was born in August of 1969, Adams song the Summer of 69 cemented my appreciation for this Canadian born artist. Adam’s most famous piece, the theme song for the new Robinhood movie at the time, Everything I Do (I Do For You) is a moving ballad. However, when I sing the lyrics, I replace a temporary relationship on earth with God.
At that time Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his army said to Abraham, God is with you in everything you do. 23 So now, swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me or with my son or with my posterity; but as I have dealt with you kindly, you will do the same with me and with the land in which you have sojourned, Genesis 21:22-23.
If you’re a critical person like me, it’s hard to believe that God is with me in everything I do. However, I have met individuals in college and beyond who were truly blessed by God. This is the observation that King Abimelech makes about Abraham based upon his initial interactions. While Abraham definitely wasn’t perfect with his tendency to lie, he must have matured and grown closer to the Lord at this point in his life.
I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want. 13 I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who [g]infuses inner strength into me; I am [h]self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency], Philippians 4:12-13.
While writing a letter to the Church at Philippi, the apostle Paul explains the secret to having God with you in everything you do. Paul provides a similar illustration in 2 Corinthians 12:7-12 as the weaker human beings become, it opens the door for God to become strong. From a New Testament perspective, the deeper your faith and trust in God become, the better your chances are for God to be with you in everything you do.
When I first began my faith journey on December 4th, 1983, my prayer life can be best described as babbling out loud to God. Whenever anyone lives for themselves for the first 14 years of their lives, it takes time to learn how to live according to a new set of rules. Subsequently, praying to an invisible God felt like I was talking to myself. It wasn’t until college as I matured spiritually when I believed and sensed that God heard my cries for help.
When the water in the bottle was all gone, Hagar caused the youth to lie down under one of the shrubs. 16 Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about a bowshot, for she said, Let me not see the death of the lad. And as she sat down opposite him, [d]he lifted up his voice and wept and she raised her voice and wept. 17 And God heard the voice of the youth, and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven and said to her, What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the youth where he is, Genesis 21:15-17.
Unfortunately, human nature and concepts like rugged individualism leads many people to trust in their own abilities. God is usually placed on the back burner until desperation results in calling out to the Lord as a last resort. This is the context of the passage above as Hagar comes to the conclusion that her baby boy is going to die. Homeless, dehydrated and left to fend for themselves in the middle of a desert, Hagar weeps in prayer.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. 17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their distress and troubles. 18 The Lord is close to those who are of a broken heart and saves such as are crushed with sorrow for sin and are humbly and thoroughly penitent, Psalm 34:16-18.
Hagar’s answered prayer reminds me of God’s promise in the passage above. As for the righteous part from the Psalmist, Isaiah 1:15-20 uses snow in connection with confession. Those who fully repent of their mistakes to God are forgiven like the righteous. Therefore, whenever anyone pours out their heart in prayer like Hagar, can be assured that God does hear your voice.
As someone who was raised in the Roman Catholic Church, Lent was one of those seasons in life where I was asked to give up some sort of bad habit for 40 days. As a former athlete, setting goals was a weekly occurrence, driven to reach new heights. However, depending upon what I gave up for Lent, an internal wrestling match began inside of me, Galatians 5:16-18. This spiritual test revealed if my faith way bent or broken.
For those who are according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and[d]pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and[e]seek those things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit. 6 Now the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that [f]comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever]. 7 [That is] because the mind of the flesh [with its carnal thoughts and purposes] is hostile to God, for it does not submit itself to God’s Law; indeed it cannot, Romans 8:5-7.
In the middle of a letter to the Church in The Rome, the apostle Paul opens up about a similar struggle going on inside of him, Romans 7. While Paul was a former religious zealot who fought against the formation of Jesus’ first century church, knowing right from wrong and doing the right thing is hard. Although Paul had good intentions, he reached a point in his life where temptation was winning.
So then those who are living the life of the flesh [catering to the appetites and impulses of their carnal nature] cannot please or satisfy God, or be acceptable to Him. 9 But you are not living the life of the flesh, you are living the life of the Spirit, if the [Holy] Spirit of God [really] dwells within you [directs and controls you]. But if anyone does not possess the [Holy] Spirit of Christ, he is none of His [he does not belong to Christ, is not truly a child of God], Romans 8:8-9.
Subsequently Paul sets out in chapter 8 to highlight why this is going on inside of him. Whenever anyone attempts to change their life for the better, the sinful nature seeks to regain control. This is why changing your eating and exercise habits is so difficult. If this is your current reality this season of Lent, pray that the Holy Spirit enables you bend your faith back into shape.