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Friday, January 22, 2016

Fear By Default, Faith By Testing

Isaac struggles with faith. His birth was the fruit of Abraham's belief in the promise of God. Isaac cannot piggy-back his father's faith but must develop his own. God gives him ample opportunity to do so.

The Lord interrupts Isaacs’ escape from famine in the land as he moves eastward to the land of the Philistines, “Do not go down to Egypt.” He confirms the Abrahamic covenant with Isaac and promises His presence and blessing, “I will be with you and will bless you. . . .” (Genesis 26:3-5) 

Adverse circumstances immediately tests Isaac’s faith. Fearful for his own life Isaac asks Rebekah to pretend to be his sister. Seriously. How on earth will God fulfill the Abrahamic covenant through Isaac’s death? Instead of trusting God to protect him— just as He promised―Isaac asks Rebekah to pretend to be his sister. Hmm. Where have we seen this before? Every generation must learn to appropriate God’s promises for himself.  
Since the Fall man struggles to reconcile what he sees and feels with faith in the promises of God. Adverse circumstances always tests a man’s faith in God. The natural man defaults to fear while the spiritual man appropriates God’s word. God patiently taught Abraham to trust Him and now He takes Abraham’s son under His wing of instruction.  
God enriches Isaac during his stay in Gerar and Abimelech has him deported. He slowly makes his way back to Beersheba where God again speaks to him; there he builds an altar to the Lord. 
Several truths emerge from this story:
  • God tests those in whom He invests His promises. Understanding that testing accompanies the promises from God prepares a man to face that test. 
  • The appropriation of the promises of God eclipse adverse circumstances (what is seen by the eye and feared in the heart). Sadly, many allow adverse circumstances to shape their faith in God instead of the other way around. 
  • Every man must posses his own faith in God. It cannot be inherited from another. 
If living by faith were easy, everyone would be doing it. 
Older Post
With or Without?
"Now there was a famine in the land…Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and bless you…Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold because the Lord blessed Him. The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy" (Genesis 26:1,3,12-13; emphasis added).

Isaac had two choices. He could:
  • Dwell in a land of plenty without the promises of God nor the manifest presence of God
  • Dwell in a land of famine with the promises of God
To have the promise of provision from God is to have the supply. The manifest presence of God depends not upon the conditions of the geographic location but on the promises of God. To be in the will of God with the manifest presence of God in a land of famine is oh so much more important than living in a land of plenty. To have and to appropriate the promises of God is to experience His manifest presence in the midst of trials and unpleasant circumstances (like famine). 

The temptation today may not be to move to a new land but to look for the world's ways to beat the economic downturn. God's people have to be willing to look to God and His promises in the midst of economic famine and so believe the promises of God that we don't panic but rather reflect God's glory and God's power to a watching world. 

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Genesis 25:1-26:35; 1 Chronicles 1:32-34
  • How long does Isaac pray for a child before Rebekah becomes pregnant?
  • What has he learned from his parents about barrenness, the promises of God and how God works?
  • Review Isaiah 64:4 (great verse to memorize).
  • To whom does God speak regarding the pregnancy, and what does He say? What does this tell you about God?
  • Why does God command Isaac to remain in Canaan during the famine, and what does He promise Isaac?
  • What do others recognize about Isaac?
  • How is Esau described in chapters 25 and 26?
Turning truth into prayer
When God gives a promise it is as good as receiving its fulfillment. The Bible is full of promises to His children. Ask the Lord to highlight one of His promises to you and then help you to appropriate the promise today.