There isn't anything new in what I have to say, but I do see life from an unique perspective. As my body is shutting down, my soul is opening up to a greater and greater relationship with Christ. I am sharing the things I learn as I go through my trials so that those who read what I write will be encouraged in their own walks by how gracious God has been to me in mine. Ask me questiions, dispute my views and most of all pray for me.
Isaac and RebekahGe 24:1 Abraham was now old and well advanced in years, and the LORD had blessed him in every way. Ge 24:2 He said to the chief servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh. Ge 24:3 I want you to swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, Ge 24:4 but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.”
Ge 24:5 The servant asked him, “What if the woman is unwilling to come back with me to this land? Shall I then take your son back to the country you came from?”
Ge 24:6 “Make sure that you do not take my son back there,” Abraham said.
Ge 24:7 “The LORD, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father’s household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give this land’—he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there. Ge 24:8 If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there.” Ge 24:9 So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore an oath to him concerning this matter.
Ge 24:10 Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and left, taking with him all kinds of good things from his master. He set out for Aram Naharaim and made his way to the town of Nahor. Ge 24:11 He had the camels kneel down near the well outside the town; it was toward evening, the time the women go out to draw water.
Ge 24:12 Then he prayed, “O LORD, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. Ge 24:13 See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. Ge 24:14 May it be that when I say to a girl, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.”
Ge 24:15 Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah, who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor. Ge 24:16 The girl was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever lain with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again.
Ge 24:17 The servant hurried to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water from your jar.”
Ge 24:18 “Drink, my lord,” she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink.
Ge 24:19 After she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have finished drinking.” Ge 24:20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels. Ge 24:21 Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the LORD had made his journey successful.
Ge 24:22 When the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold nose ring weighing a beka and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels. Ge 24:23 Then he asked, “Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?”
Ge 24:24 She answered him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son that Milcah bore to Nahor.” Ge 24:25 And she added, “We have plenty of straw and fodder, as well as room for you to spend the night.”
Ge 24:26 Then the man bowed down and worshiped the LORD, Ge 24:27 saying, “Praise be to the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the LORD has led me on the journey to the house of my master’s relatives.”
Ge 24:28 The girl ran and told her mother’s household about these things. Ge 24:29 Now Rebekah had a brother named Laban, and he hurried out to the man at the spring. Ge 24:30 As soon as he had seen the nose ring, and the bracelets on his sister’s arms, and had heard Rebekah tell what the man said to her, he went out to the man and found him standing by the camels near the spring. Ge 24:31 “Come, you who are blessed by the LORD,” he said. “Why are you standing out here? I have prepared the house and a place for the camels.”
Ge 24:32 So the man went to the house, and the camels were unloaded. Straw and fodder were brought for the camels, and water for him and his men to wash their feet. Ge 24:33 Then food was set before him, but he said, “I will not eat until I have told you what I have to say.”
“Then tell us,” Laban said.
Ge 24:34 So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. Ge 24:35 The LORD has blessed my master abundantly, and he has become wealthy. He has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, menservants and maidservants, and camels and donkeys.
Ge 24:36 My master’s wife Sarah has borne him a son in her old age, and he has given him everything he owns. Ge 24:37 And my master made me swear an oath, and said, ‘You must not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live, Ge 24:38 but go to my father’s family and to my own clan, and get a wife for my son.’
Ge 24:39 “Then I asked my master, ‘What if the woman will not come back with me?’
Ge 24:40 “He replied, ‘The LORD, before whom I have walked, will send his angel with you and make your journey a success, so that you can get a wife for my son from my own clan and from my father’s family. Ge 24:41 Then, when you go to my clan, you will be released from my oath even if they refuse to give her to you—you will be released from my oath.’
Ge 24:42 “When I came to the spring today, I said, ‘O LORD, God of my master Abraham, if you will, please grant success to the journey on which I have come.
Ge 24:43 See, I am standing beside this spring; if a maiden comes out to draw water and I say to her, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar,”
Ge 24:44 and if she says to me, “Drink, and I’ll draw water for your camels too,” let her be the one the LORD has chosen for my master’s son.’
Ge 24:45 “Before I finished praying in my heart, Rebekah came out, with her jar on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water, and I said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’
Ge 24:46 “She quickly lowered her jar from her shoulder and said, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too.’ So I drank, and she watered the camels also.
Ge 24:47 “I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’
“She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel son of Nahor, whom Milcah bore to him.’
“Then I put the ring in her nose and the bracelets on her arms,
Ge 24:48 and I bowed down and worshiped the LORD. I praised the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right road to get the granddaughter of my master’s brother for his son. Ge 24:49 Now if you will show kindness and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so I may know which way to turn.”
Ge 24:50 Laban and Bethuel answered, “This is from the LORD? we can say nothing to you one way or the other. Ge 24:51 Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master’s son, as the LORD has directed.”
Ge 24:52 When Abraham’s servant heard what they said, he bowed down to the ground before the LORD. Ge 24:53 Then the servant brought out gold and silver jewelry and articles of clothing and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave costly gifts to her brother and to her mother. Ge 24:54 Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night there.
When they got up the next morning, he said, “Send me on my way to my master.”
Ge 24:55 But her brother and her mother replied, “Let the girl remain with us ten days or so; then you may go.”
Ge 24:56 But he said to them, “Do not detain me, now that the LORD has granted success to my journey. Send me on my way so I may go to my master.”
Ge 24:57 Then they said, “Let’s call the girl and ask her about it.” Ge 24:58 So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?”
“I will go,” she said.
Ge 24:59 So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham’s servant and his men. Ge 24:60 And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, “Our sister, may you increase
to thousands upon thousands;
may your offspring possess
the gates of their enemies.”
Ge 24:61 Then Rebekah and her maids got ready and mounted their camels and went back with the man. So the servant took Rebekah and left. Ge 24:62 Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev. Ge 24:63 He went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. Ge 24:64 Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel Ge 24:65 and asked the servant, “Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?”
“He is my master,” the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself.
Ge 24:66 Then the servant told Isaac all he had done.
Ge 24:67 Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death. Genesis 24:1-67 NIV)
It is a shame that so many great books are no longer studied in school as they once were. The use of language and irony were so important to our growth and understanding as we approached life in general. One of the great examples of that is the story of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. It was one of my favorites until I would much later stumble upon C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia.
In Alice’s story she came to an icy fork in the road. Panic stung her as she stood frozen by indecision. She lifted her eyes toward heaven, looking for guidance. Her eyes did not find God, only the Cheshire cat leering at her from his perch in the tree above. "Which way should I go?" blurted Alice.
'That depends, . ."said the cat, fixing a strange smile on the confused girl.
"On what?" Alice managed to reply.
"On your destination. Where are you going?" queried the Cat.
"I don't know, . . . " stammered Alice.
"Then," said the cat, with a grin spreading wider, "it doesn't matter."
Many of us feel like Alice in Wonderland, we stand at some crossroads in our life and don't know which road to take. The difference between us and Alice however is that we DO know where we are going. We are children of the King and we are headed to eternal life in His presence. But, you see, that is part of the problem. It would be easier to look at the decisions of life and conclude that it didn't matter which way we choose. But because we belong to Him, it does matter. We know that when we live according to His will, we will know His blessing and experience His joy. Jesus says, "he who does the will of God is my brother and sister." (Matthew 12:50); Jesus also tells us to pray "Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven." (Matthew 6:10)
Some decisions in our life are major: where should we go to school? What job should we take? What home should we buy? Which person should we marry? What commitments should we accept and which should we decline? How does one discern God's will for our lives in these times?
In the scripture I quote at the beginning of this writing, we see a long story of the arranged marriage of Isaac and Rebekah. Abraham sends his trusted servant back to the homeland of his family in Haran to get a wife for Isaac. It is in this story that we find some principles for finding God's will for our lives.CHECK GOD'S WORD
Abraham based his request on God's promise to Him. He knew that God intended to give this land to his children. He knew that it was God's intention to judge the Canaanites. Certainly there were many beautiful women in that area. But Abraham knew that God had called the Jews as His special people. Isaac could not marry a Canaanite woman because it would lead to a compromise of faith. So, right at the beginning this servant had certain parameters to work with. He knew that he was looking for a woman that was from Abraham's family and one that would return to Canaan with him. God's promise had given the servant a good start.
The Bible is where we get our good start when it comes to finding God's will for our lives. In the Bible we find commands to direct our lives and principles to guide us. If you were driving on a road and a sign said "Speed Limit 55" that would be a command. If it said "Use Caution" that would be a principle. The Bible has both kinds of directions in the Bible. God gives us certain commands:(1 Thessalonians 4:3) "It is God's will that you should be sanctified and that you should avoid sexual immorality, that each of you should learn to control his own body."(1 Thessalonians 5:18) "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."(1 Peter 2:15) "It is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil, live as servants of God."
He tells us we shouldn't lie, we should respect our rulers, we should honor our parents, we should worship regularly, we should put God first. These commands and clear and are meant to be obeyed. They tell us specifically what to do in a given situation.
There are also principles that apply to all situations and circumstances such as: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength." We are told to be "kind, tenderhearted, forgiving, just as God in Christ has forgiven us." We are told that we are to honor the Lord with our lives.
The commands and principles of Scripture will point us toward God's will.
We find someone we are interested in but they are not believers and we fret over whether this could be the right person for us. But the Bible tells us that we should only get involved with believers. (1 Corinthians 7:39-40)
We wonder whether we should declare all our income on our tax forms. The Bible is clear, "give to Caesar what is Caesar's"
We question whether we should do what God says or whether we should obey our employer when we are asked to do something illegal or immoral. The Apostles answered that in the Book of Acts, "We must obey God rather than men."
Our marriage is struggling and we meet someone that "seems to care for us" and we feel drawn to that person and don't know whether it is right. It's not! The Bible says "do not commit adultery".
It is essential that we read the Bible in it's proper context and not make it say what it does not say. When God's Word speaks, we must follow that guidance. But what if the guidance we get is still not enough?ASK FOR GUIDANCE
Sometimes the simple principles are the most profound. Look at the servant praying:
Then he prayed, “O LORD, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. May it be that when I say to a girl, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.” [12-14]
If we want God's guidance we have to seek God's guidance. James tells us if "anyone lacks wisdom he should ask of God who gives to all men liberally". But we must be asking sincerely.
Let’s take a minute for some direct honesty. Most of the time when we ask God to show us what to do, we are really saying "let me know that what I want to do is O.K." If we truly want to find God's will we have to keep all options open. Before we can find God's will we have to trust that God's will is the best. We must understand that what God chooses (even if it is not the choice we would have made) is always the right choice. We must be willing for God to change our direction, or to say "no", or "not yet". We must trust that a closed door is not designed to defeat us or discourage us, it is meant to move us in a better direction. God will answer if we ask sincerely. It is certainly true that we will never be open to God's direction until we can pray with Jesus, "not my will, but yours be done."WEIGH YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES
The servant watched what was happening. One of the best things that the servant did is found in verse 21, "Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the LORD had made his journey successful." Consider the circumstances that the servant watched:
would she offer to bring water for the camels ?
would she be a relative of Abraham ?
would she go with the servant ?
If any of these circumstances had gone a different direction, the servant would have concluded that he had not found the right woman.
Sometimes God directs us by a closed door. I remember when we were looking at several different churches to attend I asked God to close all the doors except the one that He wanted us to pursue. If none of the churches were His choice then He should close all the doors. Guess which door remained open? The one I found here at Sylvan Oaks Christian Church remained open because it’s Pastor, Mike Cook, refused to deviate from the Word in any way while we were talking. That he was the only one who found himself capable of that is both the saddest and most gratifying statement I can make about that journey.
Sometimes God directs by giving us a great opportunity (but we must always check it by the Word and prayer); Sometimes there is a sense of peace (again, check this out carefully. It is possible to have peace because your conscience has become deadened which isn’t really peace but rather insensitivity).
One of the best aides God gives to us is our Christian brothers and sisters. Sometimes what seems cloudy to us is crystal clear to the one we are talking to. But again there is a caution: you should check things out with someone you feel has the spirit of God in them. We want someone who is committed to Christ as we are, and who is also being objective. It is too easy to find people who agree with us. We're not looking for agreement but guidance.
This servant asked God for a specific sign. Is it appropriate to ask God for a sign? Throughout the Bible we see Biblical characters discerning God's way in many different fashions.
Some had God speak directly to them in a dream or vision
Others cast lots (even the disciples in Acts 1)
Some asked for other signs (Gideon and the fleece in Judges 6:37-40; Moses was given a special miracle (Ex. 4); Hezekiah and his shadow in 2 Kings 20:9)
But before we start demanding that God give us a sign we need to keep a couple of things straight, First, these Biblical Characters did not have the advantage of God's Word or God's Spirit to guide them. Today we can check God's Word for guidance and we have God's Spirit living within us to guide us into all truth. Asking for a sign when God has spoken clearly is an act of sin, not faith. That is like the young couple who ask God for a sign that it would be alright for them to “start early” on their marriage activity. That is simply asking God to make it alright for you to sin.
Second, we must beware of signs that are set up to get what we want. For example, we know that we should visit a person but we don't want to. So, we pray, "Lord, if you want me to talk to this person make me run into them as I walk to the Post Office." Sometimes we will ask for an extreme sign before we are willing to do what we believe God is calling us to do. This too is sin. You should also be ready for what you will say to that person at the Post Office!
Third, we must choose the sign carefully. Sometimes people will say, "Lord, if you want me to do this, have the light stay green until I get through the intersection" or something of that nature. That is superstition, not faith. Look at how carefully the servant chose his sign.
How could the servant determine quickly which of the girls that would soon be arriving would have the qualities necessary for Isaac? It would be necessary for him to make the first approach toward conversation, and the obvious thing would be for him to ask her for a drink of water from her pitcher. However, almost any girl, out of common courtesy, would agree to such a request as that, so that act alone would not be sufficient. If, however, she would then, on her own initiative, offer to help in some further way, going a second mile as it were, this would definitely be a good sign. Perhaps the most severe test would be whether she was willing not only to give him some water, and perhaps even his attendants, but also his ten camels. Surely, if she would do this, without grumbling, it would go far toward proving that she was the kind of wife Abraham was seeking for his son and that she was also the one God was providing for him.
Drawing enough water to satisfy the thirst of ten large and tired camels would be a hard and wearisome task, to say the least. Each camel could need as much as twenty to twenty-five gallons of water each to fill itself, depending on how long it had been since they had last been watered. He couldn't really ask a girl to do such a thing. Nevertheless, if she would do it voluntarily, it would be a strong indication that she was the right one.
There are other times when we "sense" God speaking to us. We have an "impression from God." When God gives an impression He almost always also gives some verification. All impressions must be evaluated carefully by the clear and authoritative teaching of Scripture. Like in the game rock, paper, scissors . . . paper wins over rock, scissors wins over paper, and rock wins over scissors. In this case -- Scripture wins over feelings. If Scripture does not speak to the issue we should check with godly friends.WALK IN FAITH
When all is said and done we must walk by faith. The servant of Abraham went to Haran trusting that God would lead the way. He asked God for direction and when it was given, he acted. When he got to Rebekah's home he didn't even pause to have dinner. He wanted to find out if Rebekah was the one first. He continued to walk by the light God provided.
God generally guides one step at a time. Before we can see the second step we must take the first one. Let's not forget that God has given us His Spirit to guide us. He has given us minds to think and to weigh options. Sometimes we have to trust our "sanctified common sense". Sometimes we have to trust the brains and the Spirit God has given us and make the best decision possible. We must walk by faith that God will send his angels ahead of us just as He did Abraham's servant.
As a result of this servant's faithfulness, Isaac married Rebekah. Two children were born to that union and they named them "Jacob" and "Esau". Jacob's name was later changed to "Israel". This faithful servant played a key role in God's plan of redemption.
Our decisions won't affect the plan of redemption but they are significant. We should strive in our lives to implement these simple steps
check God's Word
seek God's Help
pay attention to your circumstances
walk faithfully each step God reveals
Two final issues that have pressed forward: I mentioned that God reveals things one step at a time. For some of you, the first step may be to take that initial step of faith. Maybe the reason you feel outside of God's will is because you are outside of His grace. God guarantees guidance to all those who are His children. You can be faithful in church attendance and still not be one of His children. You can be a leader in the church and community and still not be one of His children. You can be trying your very best in life, and still not be one of His children. I don’t often mention these things on the website and I think I should do so more often Too often I have developed relationships with people I assumed to be Christians only to discover that they had never made that most important step.
A person becomes a child of God when they have admitted that they have lived as enemies of God. They have disobeyed His commands, they have ignored His importance, they have only been concerned about themselves. In other words, you must first admit that you have sinned.
They acknowledge that there is nothing they can do to rectify this situation. All their good works, all their best actions are tainted with selfish motives. And even if we were able to do some things that are truly good . . . it would never be enough to "pay for" the sin.
They recognize that Jesus Christ is God become man who died as an innocent man, for our sin. He literally came back from the dead making it possible that anyone who really trusts Him to be forgiven and to live beyond the grave.
They make a commitment to trust what they have come to believe is true. Lot's of people see that Jesus is good. Many could tell you He died for sin. But it is only when we place our hope in Him, only when we are willing to bet our life on Him and orient our life toward Him that we can truly be said to be a child of God.
If you have never taken this first step. Stop right now. Close you eyes. Talk to God. Tell Him that you are willing to trust Jesus Christ to save you from your sin and from yourself. Tell Him that you believe and receive His promise. Ask Him to take control of your life. And then thank Him, because He has promised that anyone who comes to Him will NOT be rejected. Once you have settled this ultimate issue the others will come easier.
One final thing about finding God's will for your life. God loves us so much, that even if we make a wrong choice, He can get us back on course. He may have to shut a door, or place obstacles in our path, but He will lead us in the way that we should go. He promises to lead us home and He will do so even if He has to go and get us after we make a wrong turn. Live boldly and faithfully in the confidence that God will direct your paths,. just as He promised.
If you have made a decision to be Christ’s and to serve God with your whole heart, soul and mind – then let me know by leaving a comment here so I can get in touch with you. I will pray for you and provide you with some information that will help you get started on this new, life changing journey.
In the meantime, until we speak again, pray for me that I will always do as God wills in my life and that I will always make myself available to His use for His glorification. For we need always to remind ourselves that is not now nor has it ever been about me. It is now and always has been about God glorified and honored by His creations.